Doping in sport
In this post, Dr Susan Backhouse discusses the backlash in the sporting world after sprinters Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay failed a drugs tests.
Twitter, and other social media sites, are awash with comments as details have emerged that two of the world's leading sprinters have failed a drugs test. If B samples confirm they have breached doping regulations, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay will be added to a growing list of doped athletes. If these tests are substantiated, five of the top 10 fastest male sprinters will be on that list.
In a World Championship year, where the Russian and Turkish systems are being probed for programmed doping, these revelations have saddened most people who are interested in sport. Consequently, calls have been renewed for introducing tougher sanctions - such as a life ban - for those who breach doping rules. Many feel the current 2-year ban does not present a sufficient deterrent for those who think that the risks of being caught are outweighed by the benefits of being a global sporting success.
The question on many people's lips is will we ever clean up sport or are we fighting a losing battle? The honest answer is that there will always be individuals who are willing to cheat, across many aspects of life not just sport. However, we have a responsibility to the next generation of athletes to put programmes in place to help prevent this behaviour before it occurs. While these latest revelations expose the sport, they also send a strong message that dopers are being caught. Further, Twitter traffic suggests that this exposure ignites a passion in those who do compete clean and are committed to clean sport.
We need to harness this passion in our prevention programmes; it is important to empower this community so that each participant plays an important part in preventing doping. Researchers in the Institute of Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure at Leeds Metropolitan are committed to furthering our understanding of doping in sport in order to help drive this prevention agenda.
Sue is the Director of Research for Sport and Exercise Science, Leisure and Tourism, leading our REF2021 submission. Sue is an interdisciplinary academic serving as a Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Nutrition in the Carnegie School of Sport.