Despite the existence of global anti-doping policies, anti-doping organisations all over the world and increasingly tough punishments, doping still persists to be a major issue in the sporting industry. So what is it going to take to end this?
It is often said that prevention is the best medicine, so could this apply here? There are many different reasons and motives for partaking in doping and we don’t know exactly why each individual does, so perhaps interception and prevention from the very beginning, before athletes even enter the competitive ring, could form part of the solution we’re looking for.
We are starting to see an increasing emphasis on clean sport education around the globe; The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya is partnering with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to incorporate anti-doping education into the school curriculum. Similarly, UK Anti-Doping runs a prevention programme, including education strategies and its Clean Sport curriculum to support all athletes and support personnel. These programmes are certainly a step in the right direction.
Instilling a culture of clean sport
The aim is for doping in sport to cease to exist because people value clean sport and integrity, rather than just fearing the negative impacts of doping. Teaching young athletes about why fair and clean sport is so important, as well as the potential implications it could have, could help to encourage young athletes to stay clean, and even become anti-doping advocates.
Emphasising the wider and longer-term consequences of doping is also important, such as the detrimental impact it has on fellow athletes, to the reputation of their sports and, of course, the affect it can have on one’s career and individual repute; ensuring the next generation of athletes are aware of this from the start may prevent them from even considering doping in the future.
Spreading awareness of a cause is often an effective method for progression.
Making potential athletes aware of doping and integrating clean sport education into schools could help to stress the severity of the issue and its implications, as well as helping them to spot any signs of potential doping or pressures they could incur.
Providing support and guidance
The anti-doping testing process can be complicated and daunting for young athletes. Providing a thorough education on anti-doping, its importance and how it works will help to guide them through the day-to-day testing processes and activities. Offering the guidance and support required to help young athletes’ confidence grow will help to empower them and make anti-doping less daunting and establish it as an ordinary part of life in the sporting world.
At the end of the day, doping often carries with it potentially devastating health implications, as well as damaging affects on careers and reputations, making it crucial that young athletes are protected and can participate in sports safely and fairly. Early prevention and raising athletes with good and strong ethics, emphasising the value of sport, could encourage them to practise and encourage clean sport from the very start.