Positive Improvements

With the latest news for Jamaica, that during sprinter Sherone Simpson’s hearing, she blamed her coach for being allowed her to consume a supplement that she claims contained a banned substance (although no trace of that substance has been found in the product), continues to raise questions about the validity of many Olympic track & field medals from London.

Why Strict Liability?

We can speculate all we like, but nobody can deny the facts in cases such as this, that the athlete’s body did in fact contain a banned substance. I’ll not go into the manner in which that banned substance could have arrived there, that’s for a hearing to decide & to provide a suitable punishment if it’s required. What is more important to anybody who has a genuine interest in sport, is whether or not the presence of that banned substance affected the results of the event. Guilty or not, we can safely assume that substances are on the list due to their performance enhancing abilities (or their ability to mask the presence of other substances). So we can also assume that the presence of the substance had an effect on the outcome of the sporting event where the athlete had the substance present in their body.

Take Scotland’s own Alain Baxter as an example, he was banned & stripped of a 2002 Winter Olympic bronze medal for apparently taking a Vic’s inhaler, which in the UK contains no banned substances, but in the US it contains methamphetamine, which at the time was banned. Whether or not you believe it was in his body with his knowledge, his performance on the day was the finest he had ever achieved & he never reached the level again where he could take an Olympic medal. It could be argued that the difference in his performance was down to the presence of that stimulant, it also could have been the pinnacle of his career, but to some extent the methamphetamine had some performance effect on Baxter. It would have been unfair on the other competitors to allow him to keep his medal, as his performance was affected by the presence of the drug, whether or not he deliberately ingested it. Baxter’s time was 1:42.32, while Benjamin Raich, who was later awarded the bronze medal recorded a time of 1:42.41, that’s a tiny margin of 0.09 seconds & it could very likely have been as a result of the methamphetamine. The same applies to any other accidental presence of banned substances, they can affect results, so whether or not they were put there deliberately the results have to be amended.

The Gist Of It

I agree with the strict liability rulings. It may seem unfair to the athlete concerned if it’s proven that they accidentally consumed a banned substance, but it’s also incredibly unfair to the other athletes who may have been at a disadvantage from an unknowingly doped athlete. The only individual who can be held responsible for it is the athlete in question, which is why the strict liability rules exist, it’s about fairness, but may seem incredibly harsh on some occasions. If the strict liability rules were relaxed we could see some significant loopholes open up, with products appearing on the market, being tainted & then athletes getting away with it, while knowingly doping. This can’t be allowed to happen, hopefully no court case destroys ‘strict liability’ & athletes take more care about what they put in their bodies. The big question is, do they really need that many obscure supplements, whatever happened to a healthy diet?

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