The ever-growing concern about drugs in sports and the frequency in which athletes are being caught continue to raise the question as to why so many sports are affected.
According to Patient.co.uk, sportspersons may take drugs for three purposes:
*As a medication for an illness, for example, Maria Sharapova indicated taking meldonium for 10 years
*Performance enhancement which provides an unfair advantage over other athletes
*Recreational uses such as marijuana
Athletes and doctors have to be aware of diuretics (especially athletes who have to meet certain weight standards), stimulants and anabolic steroids.
WADA Education Guidelines to Prevent Doping in Sport presents a good framework through which sporting organisations can implement the national anti-doping programme. The framework allows for the development of anti-doping programmes where all athletes from the junior level upwards can be apprised about doping, its risks and consequences. The five features are:
*Short-Term Goals- all goals must be SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. According to WADA, at the end of every programme there should be:
*100% of all top athletes shall have been informed of their rights and responsibilities by the end of the activity session
*Long-Term Goals- according to WADA, the purpose of long-term goals have benefits for both athletes and their support personnel. These include:
*All Athletes in the Registered Testing Pool (RTP) shall be knowledgeable of the Prohibited List, Doping Controls, health consequences of doping Use, Consequences of Anti-Doping Rule Violations and the rights and responsibilities of Athletes.
*All athlete support personnel must also be aware of the requirements of athletes.
*A Timeframe- the time timeframe for these education programmes will depend on institutional capacity as well as the availability of funding. Although funding may be an issue in the current economic climate, the lack of funding for anti-doping education programmes is inexcusable.
*Target Groups- athletes, athlete support personnel, coaches, medical team and administrators of sports. In cases of junior athletes, it may be even wise to apprise parents, guardians and schools to recognise the importance of their role in preventing any possible doping incident.
*Key Messages- the keys messages should become etched in the minds of all stakeholders. These are:
*All Athletes need to be clean and stay clean
*Doping is using any substance or method on the Prohibited List
*Doping is against the spirit of sport
WADA's guidelines and the Prohibited List should be an integral part of the overall development of athletes from the junior level onwards. Such an approach along with requisite monitoring and evaluation minimizes the possibility of athletes running afoul of WADA's rules and regulations.
"I don't feel it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning." Michel Foucault