Lets be honest here, taking drugs to improve performance isn’t a spur-of-the-moment mistake, its a well planned and thought out way of cheating. It’s not like they are sold over the counter at your local chemists (or are they?)
People often say they don’t want to see druggies representing their country (wherever they are from) and so they should be banned for life, but can athletes that take performance enhancing drugs be labeled as druggies. Their physically fit in shape and generally healthy, everything a typical idea of a druggie isn’t.
Lifetime bans could produce fewer convictions, because harsher punishment means greater "burden of proof" First, the reality is that a lifetime ban represents the harshest possible punishment for an athlete, for it takes away their livelihood, often without a fall-back plan (ask a 26-year-old cyclist what their second career option is, for example). It is, literally, a case of "off with their heads", because you may as well do this. Now, in order to do this fairly, you have to be absolutely, 100% certain that you are punishing a person who deserves it. And sadly, the science is, as of this moment, not able to provide those guarantees, and there is always some doubt if an athlete wants to contest the origin of a doping positive. So ask the following: "If there is a 2% chance of a false positive test, then how comfortable are we issuing lifetime bans?" Then ask: "If there is a 10% chance of the positive dope test being the result of contamination of supplements, then are we comfortable with a lifetime ban?" Now, imagine being the decision maker who has to evaluate a legal case where the athlete says: "I do not contest the positive dope test, but my defence is that it came from a supplement (or meat). I was therefore not cheating." Can you confidently judge and condemn this person as a cheat? Given the science of anti-doping today, and the complexity of these cases, I'd argue that you simply cannot make this decision, and if...
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