Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

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The Anti-Doping Campaign – A Waste of Money and Time?

By C. McGuire & R. Bennett

Since the beginning of sport, athletes have been using methods to gain an unfair advantage. The athlete diet is no longer limited to your standard food groups, as many plates are being served with blood transfusions, steroids, stimulants, masking agents, and the list goes on. In 1999, the World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA), was developed to instill strict policies, rules and regulations on anti-doping; however, almost twenty years later, this problem is still in full force. As the 2018 Winter Olympic Games are among us, Kei Saito, a Japanese short track speed skater tested positive for the banned masking agent acetalozamide on February 13th. This reiterates the never-ending cycle of drug companies developing substances, athletes using them and the IOC and WADA trying to keep up to detect them. While WADA’s core foundations and the Code look great on paper, it is evident that the implementation of these policies is not working. Yes athletes are getting caught; yet, how many are not?

WADA and the IOC have started to use stricter punishments as seen in the most recent Olympics. Russia, after being accused of running a pro-doping lab, has been banned from competition. 169 athletes can compete who have proven they are clean; however, the Russian anthem will not play at medal ceremonies and they will compete as “Olympic Athletes of Russia.” Even with these strict punishments, athletes are still doping. A couple of days after the Japanese athlete tested positive, Russian curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, losing his bronze medal.


Therefore, where do we go from here if athletes are continuing to risk their health for the sake of winning a medal? One point of view is that doping should be allowed, let all athletes compete using performance enhancing aids so no one is at a disadvantage. However, this is neglecting the health risks these aids are imposing on the athletes such as testicular atrophy, abnormal menstrual cycles, liver damage, and reduced memory and attention (WADA, 2009).

While trying to eliminate doping seems nearly impossible, educating athletes on the side effects of doping and the negative consequences at a young age could potentially prevent the future use of drugs. Preventative measures such as educating coaches, athletes and stakeholders in the sporting environment to be doping-aware is integral for the future of sport. Drug testing is also poorly implemented in the high school and university systems. Developing more technologically advanced systems to catch young dopers could prevent long-term health risks if the drug usage is discontinued at a young age. It is important to remember we all play a part in this issue. Promoting fair play, sportsmanship and clean sport is just the tip of the iceberg, and with more research devoted to doping in sport, we can hope to provide optimal sporting environments for our future athletes.


Athletes and the Hall of Fame: Cheaters Allowed?

Within one of our classes, the discussion of PED’s within sports came up. No topic seems to be as hotly debated with regards to PED’s then the concept of the Baseball Hall of Fame. For those who don’t know, from the late 1980’s to the early 2000’s, baseball had a notorious problem with steroids as many of the most popular players, from Roger Clemens to Barry Bonds to Mark McGwire, were using steroids. Now, many of these players are long retired and are being refused entry into the Hall of Fame by baseball writers who used to write and promote these players are now leaving them off the hall of fame ballot.

The debate then becomes should these players be allowed into the hall of fame? Some would argue that leaving them out would ignore how many of them hold career and single season records in a variety of categories and therefore, baseball is ignoring this part of it’s history. As well, many would argue that is not up to the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) to police morality in baseball. On the other side, many argue that many of the records broken by the players would not have been done with steroids. As well, morality might not be the issue here as it is important that the so-called “sanctity” of baseball is maintained.

Here is an argument for the inclusion for alleged steroid users:

Here is an explanation of why a writer within the BBWAA did not vote for these steroid users:

With the HOF ceremony over for this year, once again many steroid users have once again been not voted into the HOF. In fact, there were a few players who were never proven to have taken steroids that were not voted in simply because the suspicion of using PED’s exist.

So what do you think? Should these so-called cheaters be let into to the hall? Or should they be kept out forever? Only time will tell if baseball writers become more lenient with their votes.

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Two engaging presentations on the future of athletic performance

The issue of performance enhancement was the focus of a recent KIN 6300 discussion. As a precursor to the group discussion, the class watched the following two videos:
David Epstein is an investigative journalist that focuses on issues relating to Sports Science.  In this TED talk, Epstein discusses the timeline of athletic performance; where we were, and where we are now, and where we are going.
Using a number of different sports, Epstein shows the progression of athletic performance, and the difference that innovation, genetics, and a changing mindset have on the sports world.
Epstein does an excellent job in showing how athletic performance has advanced throughout the years, and how sport is adapting to these performances.
Next, is a presentation by Hugh Herr, an MIT Professor who looks into Bionics and robotic prosthetics.  While he looks at helping those who have lost limbs or are unable to perform as they would like, he also discusses  those who are able-bodied, and what prosthetic limbs can do for them.
Many discussion question arose in KIN 6300 from these videos:
If these limbs for able-bodied athletes are ever perfected, do you think they should be allowed in sport? 
If this became the norm amongst athletic competition, where athletes are improving themselves by technological modification, what do you think the sporting leagues do? 
Would the NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB ban athletes who wish to undergo these sorts of advancements?  What would be the concerns for allowing this? (This would be a massive blog post if I got into this)
I believe one day we will see a separate technologically advanced league.  There will someday be the Paralympics, Olympics, and a Transolympics for those who have and wish to transcend the human biology.  As a fan of the entertainment sport offers, I believe technology could only further that excitement.
-Joe Todd, November 2015