Doping scandals: lessons learnt?

Ben Johnson, BALCO, Festina: sport often learns the wrong lessons from doping scandals. It learnt that coming clean about your doping when caught screws you and leaves others just as dirty to win; that if you have the right drugs and advice you will only get caught if someone gives you up; and that all sporting entities learn from a scandal is that a repetition must be avoided at all costs.

What will we learn from the USADA case against Armstrong and associates? I fear we will learn that doping is about individuals and their personalities: about Armstrong, Hamilton, Landis, McQuaid and so on. Rather than questioning the structures of sport we will believe that if only the ‘right’ people are involved (Tygart, Novitsky, Bassons, Schenk, Pooley) everything will come good.

It isn’t that simple, and I hope the role of institutions in tolerating and facilitating will be questioned as heavily as the individual players’ personal flaws or strengths.

4 thoughts on “Doping scandals: lessons learnt?

  1. You learn that the Omerta wins everytime, no matter how bad the new scandal may look to overthrow the bad guys the Omerta is still in control and running the show.

    No matter the sport, no matter they year, no matter the evidence, it is still going to happen. I’ve learned to take it in as part of sport in general and to enjoy the show and then enjoy the disaster to follow, expecting a clean playing field is like expecting no crime to ever be committed due to a new law or even a really tough law.

    Just enjoy it and live it.

  2. Yes, individual flaws have always been a convenienent scapegoat for institutional evil. When will we recognize that the situations of the flawed individuals comprise the ‘institution?’

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