Testing Runs Wild

Testing Runs Wild
Posted by FoM on August 22, 1999 at 07:28:15 PT
By Don Wilcox -- Ottawa Sun
Source: Ottawa Sun
The recent rash of drug suspensions to hit track and field has rejuvenated a long-running debate about just how pervasive is the use of performance-enhancing drugs. 
Surprisingly, it has failed to raise another -- that of testing athletes for the use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and other non-performance enhancing substances. Testing for these drugs is a sticky wicket. Or if it's not, it should be. No one can argue that smoking cannabis, using cocaine or any of these types of drugs aids an athlete's performance. In fact, it hurts their ability to compete, due to the chemical effects on the brain, nervous system, muscles and other major body functions. In North America, even police officers cannot order tests for these drugs without just cause. An officer making a traffic stop needs evidence that will stand up in court before testing a driver. They must have similar evidence before making a search of a person's body, car or home. Yet a sports governing body can order an athlete to pee into a bottle at any time, with no cause or warning, then test them for whatever it desires. Cuban high jumper Javier Sotomayor is a case in point. He has been convicted of no crime. No one believes cocaine helped him set a world record, or played a role in his jumping one millimetre higher. Yet he is vilified around the world for something the public had no legal right -- or need -- to know. Yes, such drugs are illegal. But there is a legal system in place to deal with this. For an athletic organization to have the right to make such tests, and to release them to the public without any recourse by the athlete, is a gross violation of a person's privacy. It's no different than an employer forcing workers to submit to such tests, a practice being foisted on more and more people. Or peeking into windows at night to ensure that sex is conducted according to community norms. The cause is noble, but the means is unjust. It's an insidious Big Brother tactic, and we should not allow it. Ottawa SunPubdate: August 22, 1999
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