Do drug cheats deserve a second chance?
Much has been written and said about Maria Sharapovas return to the tour. Many fellow pros have called for her to be banned from competitive tennis for life others have been less critical. wada found that Sharapova did not dope intentionally but her return to the game and tournament organisers clambering to offer her a wildcard has left a bad taste with many.
In terms of doping offences , this Sharapova is at the lesser end of the scale and a fifteen month ban seems appropriate for such a misdemeanour. Others in tennis and other sports have been guilty of more serious offences and of course have been punished substantially. Consider for a moment other sports, basketball, track and field and cycling for example. Why not check out the NBA app? With the rewards for success being as big as they are it comes as no surprise the lengths athletes are going to go to get that competitive edge against their opponents.
Doping is not a new problem but scandals such as the Russian state sponsored doping and Lance Armstrongs make many wonder just if what they are seeing is really true. Is doping and drug taking so widespread in sport that clean athletes would be in the minority? It really is hard to tell but it is possible. Do dopers deserve lifetime bans? Let’s consider such athletes such as Richard Gasquet, Marin Cilic, Asafa Powell and others. All of which have failed tests for various substances. All of which were able to argue their case and receive a more lenient sentence.
Are there ever cases in which an athlete who fails a drug test does not appeal? Almost all have a story of the substance got into their system and appeal their conviction. This creates an enormous amount of case law for the court system and delays in cases being heard by the authorities. So as the drugs get more sophisticated and the drugs takers develop ways of masking their acts do we really have any hope of seeing clean sport?
It is a massive task that faces WADA. It has been suggested that the penalties facing drug cheats should really hit the individual hard. The standard ban for a failure of a drugs test is 4 years. Is this really enough given that so many athletes are still taking drugs and clearly not put off by such sanctions. Financial sanctions and sponsorship sanctions could actually hit athletes harder.
Do athletes deserve a second chance?
In life as in sport we often are afforded a second chance. Rarely does life mean life. Offenders are offered the possibility of rehabilitation back into society. Should drug takers also be given a second chance? Surely the answer to this must be yes. Of course I can understand the anger of fellow athletes when a convicted doper returns to their sport but surely we should be open to rehabilitation.
Maria Sharapova will continue to build on her comeback at the Porsche Gran Prix and continue her recovery at the various hard court events in the summer. Check out app sport for the latest results. Sadly her career will always be in some way tarnished by the meldonium test failure. For sports fans it seems far off that one day we may see clean sport but other than consistent bans and making examples of offenders what else can be done. It’s in human nature to always seek that competitive advantage.