Poor Sir Bradley Wiggins. Guilty of having asthma. It’s tough, but he’ll have to be executed. Presumably this will be the logical outcome of the insane witch hunt being stirred up by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee report on doping. It trots out the usual ill thought out morass of prejudice, mud slinging and refutation of natural justice that typifies the ‘anti-doping’ crusade.
The DCMS said it is “not in a position” to state what was in the ‘jiffy bag’ delivered to Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, but went on to say there was no “reliable evidence” to back up Team Sky’s claim the medical package contained a legal decongestant.
So because this is a Select Committee report under Parliamentary Privilege it is able to slander a knight of the realm, ignore the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and indulge in the sort of moronic tabloid mudslinging that other Select Committees have rightly castigated.
This is jumping on a bandwagon, for what PR purposes one can only guess at, of a high order.
Athletes are apparently now officially guilty until they can prove themselves innocent. An almost impossible task and an inversion of the normal presumptions of English Law.
And it gets worse.
Now strident voices are calling for ‘doping’ to be made a criminal offence. The history of the criminalisation of heroin, cannabis, cocaine etc should give legislators pause for thought unless they actually want to encourage organised crime further into the sporting world. The situation with betting gangs is bad enough, now we are planning on making it worth the while of illegal drug gangs getting involved in providing cold medication to athletes.
The whole panoply of WADA and its national sub groups including UKAD, are forcing the pace on building their regulatory empire. We currently have the laughable situation where if you take a decongestant like pseudoephedrine, found in cold remedies, before playing rugby at minor club level, you can get banned. Next you will have a criminal record for taking a cold cure.
It’s time to take a step back and look at what is being peddled by a group of people who have turned kids’ games into a money spinning milch cow They are terrified the public will stop anteing up the cash if their heroes are tainted by accusations of ‘doping’. So rather than take a sensible pragmatic approach, they believe any bit of research that suggests a substance may confer a benefit, however miniscule, in sporting performance and ban it. The list of banned substances is huge with catch all clauses and it alters each year, with compounds coming on and off the list of prohibited substances as new research replaces old.
And who would bother being an elite athlete with the intrusion of continual surveillance and having to say where you will be every hour of every day for a year in advance?
It’s time to say it’s only a game. Sporting heroes are not moral role models, They are people who practice kicking a ball more accurately, throwing a javelin further or pedalling a bicycle faster than other people. None of those things make you a moral exemplar. If people want to invest so much in watching people do these things, fine. Shouldn’t they get the best performance money can buy? You don’t watch athletes run on grass in bare feet do you? The spikes, shoe technology, track science and materials not to mention nutritional science and monitoring are all unnatural aids. Obviously there are limits but we have gone into the weeds of attempting to micromanage sportspeople’s lives to the point where the tail is wagging the dog. Let people play games at school, town and club level for fun and let the elites do whatever they need to without criminalising half of society for having a cold and running a cross country at the same time.