Sports and athletic competitions can be overwhelming and stressful, which can lead to unsportsmanlike behaviour. The use of banned athletic-performance-enhancing drugs — commonly referred to as doping — is an example of one such behaviour. The use of these substances is considered unethical and is prohibited by most international sports organizations.
Not only can athletes harm themselves but also their competitors who competed clean for a fair win. Doping in sports is becoming more complex and harder to deal with, especially when these banned drugs are becoming more available to young athletes.
Following the 2018 Canada West Women’s Wrestling Championship and the 2018 U Sports Wrestling Championship, competition results have been altered to account for an ethical violation involving the use of banned substances.
A positive doping test from Fraser Valley athlete Karla Godinez Gonzalez changed the women’s 55 kg results, along with the Canada West and U Sports team standings. These changes and the implications of this ethical violation were announced following the championships by Canada West and U Sports alongside the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports.
The new standings place University of Saskatchewan athlete Laryssa Barry as the Canada West Women’s champion in the 55 kg division and as a bronze medalist in the U Sports women’s 55 kg division. Laryssa Barry was elevated to this new standing, and as part of these updates to the standings, the entire Huskies women’s team was also moved up to fifth in the U Sports team standings.
Aside from how this has impacted the Huskies, there have also been other shifts in the standings — as is the norm in situations such as these. However, standings are not the only aspect to be impacted by these infractions, as the reputations and perceptions of athletes even outside of the infraction can be affected.
There are several hard-to-detect drugs that can bring a variety of outcomes for athletes. These include steroids, stimulants and human growth hormones. Anabolic steroids are natural or synthetic substances for building muscle mass, enabling hard training and quicker recovery. However, an excess of these substances can damage the health of the body.
Other substances can improve the body’s natural processes — for example, by carrying more oxygen to your muscles. The practice of removing blood from the body and injecting it back in later to boost oxygen levels is known as blood doping. These forms of doping are hard to detect by out-of-competition blood tests and other specific tests currently used.
In order to have fair and healthy sports competitions globally, we must take action to educate students and young athletes about the consequences and harmful repercussions of doping.
That’s why there are organizations and programs that push to raise awareness within the community and educate athletes about the health risks of doping — such as the Canadian Anti-Doping Program, the national anti-doping program run by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.
The Canadian Anti-Doping Program aims to protect the integrity of sports and the rights of clean athletes. The program is a set of rules adopted by international sports organizations. Athletes, athlete-support personnel, organizations and coaches have accepted these rules as conditions to compete.
Doping might give you a slight advantage when competing with other players, but it comes with risking your health and body as well as potentially harming your team. Being part of a sports organization is not just about winning or placing well — it is about appreciating the extraordinary and praising talented and gifted athletes for earning what they truly deserve.
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor