Doping is a major problem in the sports world and now with the confessions of Lance Armstrong the topic is into the picture again. The question is whether, when we speak about the drug problem, is the drug itself the problem, or are the forces behind the drug keeping it in motion. Literally keeping in motion, because the big business which the the doping industry is, has an interest in maintaining doping within sports, in addition to the fact that sports has become an industry where it’s all about money. Outstanding achievements are expressed in monetary terms, because it isn’t anymore about giving your body the necessary exercise, or about letting your blood circulate in a healthy way and whether you didn’t pushed through limits in order to get a high from your own body hormones. Top sports has become an addiction to money and stimulants.
The drug problem within top sports can’t be tackled simply by linear approaches that emphasize on the athlete as the offender. It is important to first look at what drugs actually do when it comes to performance enhancement in sports. It has become some sort of a legend that doping will transform you into a superman. It is said that an athlete that uses stimulants can deliver a supernatural sport performance and that would be unfair towards it’s rivals and top sports in general. But when we have a look into the research work of Bram Brouwer (Dutch sports coach and psychologist), we see him saying the following, in an interview with Dutch cyclist Rini Wagtman in ‘Managementissues.com’, about doping.
In his thesis “doping as fallacy’, Bram Brouwer highlights doping from an different angle. He looked at it, not only from a medical point of view, but he also included the rules and the physiology of exercise. “Doping doesn’t work”, concludes Bram. Even the wonder drug EPO (erythropoietin), which stimulates the production of red blood cells and thereby stimulates the oxygen transport within the body, has according to Bram little or no performing enhancing effects in cyclists. “I certainly couldn’t find any evidence”, he says. “I’m not saying doping doesn’t work”. It works primarily in the mind. It adds a placebo-effect. I think riders are going to cycle faster, because they think they can go faster. There are riders who lose, because they think the others are using doping and therefore cycle faster. So they already lost in advance.
So when we look at the positive performance increase by the use of doping, then according to Bram Brouwer, there is no significant evidence that the body of an athlete performs any better. It’s the illusion created by the stimulants which makes the athlete think he can perform above his own abilities. That way we can state that a sugar pill is sufficient enough for an athlete to give his best for his sponsors. This equalizes doping to most other drugs, which just like doping, does not protrudes above a sugar pill when it comes to the positive effects on the athlete or the patient. Only a small portion of the active compound combined with the illusion that’s a super agent will then, together after filtering this information in the mind of the user, generate a predictable outcome. The money that can be made from top sports and disease is so extensive, that the persuasion from the part of the pharmaceutical industry and it’s henchmen is huge.
This doping problem isn’t an isolated problem and is created by other accepted problems in our society such as: making money on minimal working medical drugs, making a million business out of sports, marketing sports into a competitive game, let viewers lean on to supernatural performances of athletes which they also like to perform themselves and that way enhancing ratings and stadiums full of people, and making the citizens believe that it’s okay to use stimulants and make money from it while athletes push themselves beyond physical safety by the placebo-effect.
It’s no secret nowadays that money is made on minimal working drugs, but most of us have peace with the idea that this is the way the game is played. This way we respond to the ‘being special’ feeling as a human, with the result of better performances and better abilities to heal ourselves by using special medication. The principle of making lots of money and lots of profit at the costs of other people’s bodies, is the value that we’ve adopted as the norm, as most people do not ask questions, because everybody has to make a living.
Sports over the years has become a million business, the athletes are the pawns of the people in the background with power and money, while the athletes are made into idols, which everybody wants to be due to the money that’s involved. When athletes would earn an average salary and no huge sums of money were pumped into the sports clubs, the hype around sports would no longer exists. Who needs an electrician as an idol? Or the girl from the cheese department in the supermarket?
Sports is not about exercise, but to compete with others. The principle of winning as the highest good and being a loser when you lose, has seeped into our daily life where ‘the winner takes it all’ principle rules. Sports is no longer about taking care of your body, but is now based on pushing the boundaries of the body as much as possible into superman performances. In the absence of sufficient supernatural performances, the athlete considers the use of stimulants as a next step to become the winner and being able to let the money roll for his sponsors.
We as the viewers of sports, are considering sports more or less from a starting point of jealousy, we actually had wanted to perform in such ways. We would actually want a boyfriend with such a body. Nevertheless, for the masses this will only be hoping an desiring, that makes them forget what’s the other side of this ‘body consuming’ sport and therefore we massively watch and spend money on looking at an athlete who’s taking his own body for granted by taking stimulants and puts money above his own body or life.
We occasionally get excited when doping comes to light in the sports world, but that’s more a feel bad experience, seeing that your sports idol is performing better on doping then he would normally do, which makes extolling your idol suddenly into a nasty taste in your mouth. Then you suddenly see that your hero is no different than anyone else and is tempted by doping to win and make more money. Or your idol has to contest against athletes that do take stimulants, which makes it into an unfair game. Where do we draw the line and is doping permitted even when the placebo-effect is bigger than its working substances? Because either way, when the athlete believes he’s performing better on drugs or does he believes that he can push himself beyond physical safety without doping, sports is no longer in favor of the body, but in the interest of money.
On a global level it’s good to ask ourselves what are we actually doing as independent countries, when we send athletes to sports events under the influence of stimulants, who against all odds have to perform better than they self would consider possible. Isn’t sports this way, equal to war, to determine who’s the best and who’s the winner? When we take the competition out off sports, doping is no longer needed. Big sports events, where countries put more money in the events than they do for the survival of their own population, are totally unnecessary. As with war, where the battle is often conducted on obtaining natural resources for energy and minerals, sports goes with the struggle to get hold of the gold medals and cups. In both the common denominator is money, in both a lot of money is involved if we look at all the parties that want a piece of the action.
What if no longer big amounts of money would be earned in sports, would the pharmaceutical industry still be interested in athletes? What if there would no longer be big sports events, would big sponsors still be interested in the sports teams or athletes? In other words, when we eliminate and exclude money from sports we do no longer have a doping problem. What if we took competition out of sports and sports just becomes a physical activity, where you measure yourself with your own acquired data of yourself?
This is a 180 degree reversal of what we think that sports should be, but what we should ask ourselves is the following: is my definition I have of sports and doping my own perspective or is it a belief that I adopted throughout my life as my own through media and education fitted?
How can we ever work together on an global scale when competition is between us, where we use foul play and tolerate doping within a sports world where we depict athletes engaging themselves in achieving or maintaining a healthy body.
Even on an individual level the solution lies in the approach of sports, where once the winner-effect is taken out, the competition disappears and thus no longer a monetary reward or feeling better than the other exists. That brings sports back to base, simply physical activity. Which automatically makes sports no longer suitable for doping, when the winner-effect is gone.
It’s definitely comparing apples to oranges when we compete with others in sports. Our physiology is different, our approach is different, our materials are different, it’s about out smarting each other, so it’s never two equal people competing with each other. So what does the outcome of such a bike race, judo tournament or a football game say? How often do you hear, my bike wasn’t doing okay, we had some people with injuries within the team or I wasn’t totally fit for this match? This will be discarded as excuses by the media, and yes, these are excuses seen through the eyes of our current definition of sports. But it does show us the realty of an unbalanced battle where only our ego has gotten boosted with monetary rewards and a better life?
The reward for a world without drugs, stimulants, which returns sports to the basic of exercise or body movement, is regaining respect for the body. Will an athlete really be happy with all these substances and stimuli in his body? It might be that the athlete doesn’t want to have a look at his behavior now, because he is blinded by big money, but eventually these people will realize that there might be negative aspects to the use of doping. Although doping largely has a placebo-effect according to Bram Brouwer, the little acting compound in it, may also cause damage or dependency to the drug.
So the reward of no doping is mainly:
* respect for your own body.
* not pushing through the boundaries of the physical body.
* being able to enjoy the physical activity without labeling yourself as a winner or a loser.
* not being pushed by others through money to deliver top achievements which are not okay for the body.
* not having to walk the adverse effects of doping.
* using the money made with these doping million businesses to improve life in general.
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