Turner and McCrory highlight the increase in the use and abuse of social drugs within Western culture. They cite research that estimates UK drug use in the 16 to 18 age group at 40%, and argue that youngsters involved in sport live in that same society and are therefore not immune to the peer pressure to partake in 'recreational drug use'. The authors also make the point that those young people in professional sport who have a high disposable income may be more likely to afford social drugs and may therefore be prone to drug use.
The authors discuss whether all social drugs, including alcohol (to an agreed level), should be prohibited in sports people. This policy would be on the basis that: i) it is a health risk to the participant, and ii) it brings the sport into disrepute. The authors raise the issue of how to manage the problem of whether an athlete who tests positive for a recreational drug should be treated the same as one who tests positive, for a performance enhancing agent such as an anabolic steroid.
The authors advocate that athletes who test positive for social drugs should be managed differently from those who test positive for performance enhancing drugs. They believe a programme of counselling, rehabilitation, and monitoring would seem far more productive than a simplistic mandatory ban from sport.
The basis of the authors' position is that these so-called recreational drugs are not performance enhancing and the athlete is therefore not cheating. While an open minded policy of drug rehabilitation is desirable, a strong deterrent should remain to discourage the use of so called social drugs.
So called social drug taking is not conducive to optimum sporting performance. It shows a lack of discipline that would suggest the individual is not dedicated to improving their sporting performance and reaching the top of their chosen profession. Punitive bans should still be applied for those athletes who are caught partaking in so called social drugs. If certain substances are classified as prohibited then the policy of governing bodies should be one of zero tolerance.
Sporting ideals should be maintained, after all, just because certain
criminal offences are rising within society, doesn't mean we have
to accept a reflection of this within sport. Adequate policing of
an anti-drug strategy is the answer. Drug tests should be sophisticated
and comprehensive enough to provide an effective deterrent to any
athlete thinking about using drugs. It is the responsibility of
governing bodies to enforce these tests in order to maintain credibility