Great rewards demand great responsibility

July 26, 2013: nails, Earlier this week, I sat in on a presentation held by officers of the World Anti-Doping Association, otherwise referred to as WADA.

It was a very informative presentation, and I was able to get caught up on some of the latest developments in the world of anti-doping. Members of the audience became acquainted with what WADA is about, built awareness of some of the more commonplace banned substances and understand what was generally expected of them.

The measures taken to control doping in sports have become increasingly stringent over the years and in light of recent news surrounding the Jamaican athletes, once gods and goddesses of the track and whose reputations are now tainted, it is likely that the awareness for WADA and doping penalties will become a more regularly addressed topic amongst our athletes in this region.

The two officers who presented have done what they call “missions” at some of the bigger tournaments held in the world. They referred to experiences as recent as the London Olympics last year and through their accounts it became clear that WADA is an authority in sport that must be and will be respected.

It is easy to want to argue against the invasion of privacy experienced in various ways by the policies of WADA such as having to be watched while producing the pee sample (yes, the male or female must provide an unobstructed view of themselves while producing their pee sample), or the overkill of having to be chaperoned everywhere for every second should an athlete not be able to immediately do the drug test when notified of their selection. In major international tournaments it is required that the first four to place must do a drug test so that media conferences and other pressing commitments have been known to cause testing delays in which case the role of the chaperone becomes necessary.

Through the presentation, two things became abundantly clear. The first was that any athlete found with performance-enhancing drugs in their system will face severe consequences and just like any other law, ignorance is no excuse. The blame begins and ends with the athlete so that the onus lies on the athlete to always know what is being allowed into their system.

The second message that came through was that anyone aspiring to be an elite athlete must be ready to accept the inconveniences that come with it. Thanks to the blinding desire of many athletes in the past to win the gold medal, there is no room for trust and discretion when it comes to drug testing. Liaising closely with medical personnel who make it their duty to stay current with what WADA is doing is a great investment of an athlete’s time. Educating oneself on your rights throughout the sampling process is also a hugely beneficial proactive step. The aspiring elite athlete must understand and accept that, like it or not, WADA policies are part of earning and keeping that gold medal or any medal or placing up to fourth place.

The lifestyle of the elite athlete can be affected in many ways. For instance, athletes registered for the testing pool must follow their “whereabouts” filing obligation, This involves submitting a 60 minute time slot each day between 6am and 11pm indicating where they can be found for an entire year. While there are opportunities to have this information updated, the important thing to note here is that a certain amount of privacy is surrendered but this sort of protocol has become deemed necessary.

Another area of lifestyle that can sometimes affect our younger elite athletes in particular involves marijuana as is quite culturally commonplace in the Caribbean. Just as second-hand cigarette smoke has been proven to affect humans just by inhalation, the marijuana smoke once inhaled can cause an athlete to test positive in a drug test by WADA. As such, an aspiring elite athlete needs to have the discipline to act responsibly once they realise their environment has changed to include such activity as can happen in a variety of ways and settings moreso in island life.

With great reward always comes great responsibility. To expect otherwise is to show your unsuitability to be considered an elite athlete. There are a great many responsibilities that accompany the glam and glory of athletic stardom and recognising the requirements as mandated by WADA are in no way the least of them. As a matter of fact, breaking any of their mandates can mean losing everything else that was sacrificed on the way there.

By: Asha De Freitas-Moseley: Asha De Freitas-Moseley is a certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association of the USA. She has over ten years of experience rehabilitating athletes and members of the active population from injury to full play. She can be reached at Pulse Performance Ltd., located at #17 Henry Pierre St, St. James. Tel: 221-2437.

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