On Dec. 31, Forbes published an article where contributing writer Roomy Khan argued that athletes who took steroids, hormones, and other banned substances, only did so to “level the playing field.” In the “Doping In Sports – Cheating Or Leveling Of The Playing Field?” piece, she asserts that athletes who use these drugs are no different than those who adhere to advanced training regimens. Khan further suggests that athletes who had to compete against those with genetic advantages, like swimmers with large feet, needed the drugs to help level the playing field.
Her comments came at the end of a year full of doping allegations. Star athletes like Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong and Ukraine’s Olesya Povkh and Olha Zemlyakand, among others, come to mind following their 2017 suspensions. Then, who could forget about the ongoing scandal involving a string of Russian athletes who’ve been banned for life by the International Olympic Committee from all Olympic games?
There is obviously a serious problem with doping in sports, and it’s being fueled by outrageous narratives like Khan’s. Doping is cheating and it is dangerous to the athletes who use them. The notion that athletes are justified in doping in order to stay relevant or to balance the odds is inconceivable. The whole idea of competing is to vie for the top position. The only way to become the best is through practice, dedication and skill. If you lose at something, you’re obviously, not the top player. There is no going home for a magic concoction that can give you an edge, when you’re complaining that someone else has one naturally. Sometimes you just have to “hold that ‘L’.”
Let’s also not forget that there are sports champions who have real limitations who are still excelling in their respective areas. These athletes prove that it isn’t easy to achieve greatness, but that it is not impossible. Are we then supposed to give the Bethany Hamilton-s, Anthony Robles-s, and Jason Lester-s a double dosage of these drugs to help “level the playing field”? How about those athletes that come from disadvantaged neighborhoods and broken families? How will the playing field be leveled for them?
Instead of reaching for an injectable, pill or another vacuous, half-cooked theory, perhaps we should be reaching out to those star athletes, congratulating them and asking for some training pointers. Unless of course, we’d just prefer to live in a reality where the athletes are mere pawns and the real battle relies on who has the best doctor.