Drug Testing in Sport is allegedly there to stop people seeking an unfair advantage against other clean athletes. What is strange however, is if this is the case, why recreational drugs are included. As a Chelsea fan I recall Adiran Mutu and Mark Bosnich been sacked for using recreational drugs, where there was no evidence of gaining any advantage from their use. In fact the oppostie could be said to be the case as both players could not get in the team when they offended.
The argument about fairness in sport is a strange one. If we take cycling as an example; The bike is all important, as is the training facilities, which is one main reason why Britain has done well. If we want a fair race should it not be the case that all cyclists in competitions should use the same cycle.
The fairness issue is acute in British sport, and what is shown is that those who go to Private Schools have a huge advantge over the rest of the population because of facilities. In the London Olympics more than a third of our medal winners went to Private School, when only 7% of the population goes to such instititions. 11 out of 12 cycling medals were Privately educated athletes. The stats will only get worse, as we see further cuts to sports facilities in state schools and local authorities budget cuts that are not sufficient to maintain leisure facilities.
So, Why Are We So Concerned About Drugs?
The reality is drugs enable people to pry into the private habits of people. Of course it is first the drug user and then we will see who is next as our human rights are eroded. Already we see government wanting to control our use of the internet, we have campaigns such as one targetted at pregnant women saying what they should eat or drink during pregnancy. We wear smart watches which tell us and anyone else what we are doing recreationary or even what we eat. Shops have all our retail habits, as we blindly sign up to their loyalty cards where data can often be shared with others. Big brother has never been as massive.
The question for drug users is their rights to privacy. Why are they subject to regular testing for their use? Their word of course is not sufficient, we are told. Naturally when someone has an issue with a substance it is helpful to know how they are managing this, but if their treatment is threatened by such tests where are their human rights? In the same way in the workplace, work drug testing is more prevalent and of course with some occupations there is serious risk to them or others because precision is essential. In the same way drink driving is not just an issue for the driver, the fundamental concern is their threat to others by their use. The reality however, is that drug use over the weekend has little or no impact on peoples working life so in many incidences it is used to discriminate against certain people. Drugs should be managed in the same way as alcohol.
As we look at these issues the prime concern must always be Human Rights; strangely the present Government seem to have problems with this idea as enshrined in Law presently. One of the essential elements of Human Rights is about your right to Privacy:
Your Private Life
The right to a private life means that you have the right to carry on your life privately, without government interference, as long as you also respect the rights of other people.
The courts have interpreted the concept of ‘private life’ in a very broad way. It covers things like your right to choose your sexual identity, your lifestyle, and the way you look and dress.
It also includes your right to control who sees and touches your body. For example, this means that public authorities cannot do things like leave you undressed in a busy ward, or take a blood sample without your permission.
The concept of private life also covers your right to develop your personality and to develop friendships and other relationships. This includes a right to participate in essential economic, social, cultural and recreational activities of the community.
In some circumstances, public authorities may need to take steps to support you to realise your right to a private life, including your ability to participate in society.
The right to private life means that the media and others can be prevented from interfering in your life.
It also means that personal information about you (including official records, photographs, letters, diaries and medical records) should be kept securely and not shared without your permission, except in certain circumstances.
In an age where there are greater opportunities to force people to conform to a norm we must never move away from these principles. Yet when it comes to drug use we seem to suspend these rights.
In my view drug or alcohol use is a private matter and thus I cannot support a system where people are punished for their lifestyle choices. I do however recognise many people have problems with their use and my mission is to help such people either abstain or manage their use in a safe way.
In society there are many actions that people do that damage themselves. I see people over eating which means they become unhealthy and this may impact on their work. I see others who rarely exercise, while others drink coffee to a harmful level. I see people involved in unsafe sports, how can it be safe to ride a horse or to go on a ski holiday? As an employer do I not have the right to question peoples activities that could cause absence. That relationship that my staff member has just started could lead to a messy divorce in years to come which clealry will impact on their performance; Could I not introduce calorie counting watches so I can measure what they are doing to themselves?
Thank goodness I cannot because people who work for Kaleidoscope have rights, as do other workers, it is my view that we should campaign for fairness and equality in our society. So instead of banning people in sports who allegedly cheat through drugs, would it be fairer to ban anyone attending Private School because they have an unfair advantage?