Doping is a big deal in professional sports. To keep the playing field level, most athletic organisations have developed rules and regulation to prevent their athletes from wanting to cheat. In an individual sport like swimming, doping can make a big difference in the number of wins and losses and since big wins equate to big money, swimmers are easily tempted to dope to get ahead of the pack.
Whose job is it to speak out against doping? Should elite swimmers like Lilly King and Michael Phelps do this? Or should someone else get involved in talking to the media about the problems with doping? Now that the Olympics are over but still on people’s minds, the elite swimmers are getting the job done.
Spotlight on Lilly King
Young 19-year-old Lilly King made a name for herself not only by her gold medal in the 100 breaststroke, but by calling out her Russian competition, Yulia Efimova. King beat her and pointed out Efimova’s drug history. The Russian swimmer has tested positive twice for drug use. But, despite her doping history, she was beaten by a swimmer who has always tested clean. This finger wave that King gave to Efimova proved that swimmers do not need performance enhancing drugs (PED’s)to be successful.
Michael Phelps Encourages Natural Training
Michael Phelps also spoke out about doping. His complaint was about how swimmers who use PEDs hurt the sport and what it means. His words make sense, because competitive sports are about athletic ability, not about using a drug to get better. Cheating reduces the quality of the sport all the way around. Olympic competition should be clean. No ifs, ands, or buts.
The best voices to speak out against using PEDs are the elite athletes. These are the faces of the sport, so they are recognizable by people all over the world. Instead of men and women in suits, those who actually participate in the sport should speak out to keep their sport real. Of course, the elite athletes should be supported by those who wear the suits and make the policy, but the athletes will get the message across the best.
Social Media Can Bring the Message to the Local Level
Since today’s world is dominated by social media, even the amateur swimmers can speak out against doping. Swimmers in high school and college could actually face opponents who use PEDs. Those users harm the sport just as much as professional athletes who dope harm the sport. When amateur swimmers see their idols like Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky speaking out and creating buzz about doping, those amateur swimmers will be more comfortable talking about doping with their coaches and teammates. They will also be more confident to train without using PEDs.
This is how the ethics of sports changes at the local level. And as the local level changes, the larger levels of the sport will change, too.
Banning Athletes Who Dope
Unfortunately, some athletes will always feel the pressure to do everything they can to survive the competition. This is why some nations continue to support their athletes who prefer to use PEDs rather than train naturally. The international organizations that support the competitions need to get serious about keeping the doping swimmers out of the pool, no matter what and in every situation. Sponsors need to stay away from these athletes and the clean athletes should feel free to expose them.
Doping actually weakens the foundation of sport which is why fighting it is vital to continued success. Elite swimmers and elite athletes in other sports should be the voice that encourages young, amateur athletes and their fellow professional athletes to stay away from the performance enhancing drugs that create an unfair advantage.
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