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Inject The Venom

Doping in sports
Ivan Drago. A fictional character from the Rocky world though he may have been, was still a mountain of a man. A man who is remembered for two things. 1- he had his arse handed to him on a platter by an old, washed out leftie named Rocky balboa. 2- He took copious amounts of nutritional supplements.
Nobody normally remembers the guy who finishes 2nd. Sports, as such, is driven by records. It’s a race, a struggle, even a battle at times, to be the best of the best. Sadly, when grit and determination just isn’t enough, athletes turn to performance enhancing drugs.
Cheating, you say? Perhaps not. Unethical? For sure. Sports is a dirty arena. Everybody knows that. It’s been like that since the Olympics( the old ones) . Competitors would try to get their rival teams intoxicated, just so that they would not be in any position to compete during the actual event. In more recent times, broken glass would be scattered on the road used by long distance runners or cyclists, just to slow them down.
But that’s all pass√©. Welcome to the 21st century. In sports, anything goes.

One can’t blame the athletes entirely though. Yes, we’ve already established that he wants to win for the glory and the fame. But you must also consider the outside pressure. Spectators want a good show. They want something unbelievable. Something that cannot be replicated at home. One would expect things would have changed since the era of gladiators. But the sad truth is, that nothing has. People want to be entertained. They want their money’s worth. And it’s up to the athletes to deliver. Add sponsors and promoters to the mix and you’ve got a heady cocktail. It’s all about business for them. And as long as it goes unnoticed, anything goes in the corporate world. Everything including, but not limited to, sexual harassment! They expect the same from the athletes they sponsor. Anything goes, just give us good numbers. Give us something that will make us heroes in the eye of the shareholder. All this and yet the blame, more often than not falls squarely on the shoulders of the athletes.

Then again, it’s not always the athletes who are to be blamed. In the most recent doping scandal in India, some of the athletes claim that while they had been given unnamed supplements, they had no idea that they were illegal. In these cases, it’s the sporting authorities who are to answer. It’s not unheard of though. In countries like Russia, athletes are used as scapegoats. When the country itself is forcing their athletes to cross that slender line of morality, it’s rather hypocritical of the government to disgrace the athletes as well when the shit hits the fan (proverbially). It now becomes a contest of pride. Peaceful combat between countries if you will.

And don’t for a second believe that these athletes lives will remain the same. Not from the public abuse. Not from the shame. But from the drugs themselves, which ravage their bodies to a point that eventually, all they can do is pray for death to come swiftly. Let me elaborate by cashing in on the Harry Potter frenzy that seems to have swept the world. In the long run, drugs impact athletes and their bodies the same way horcruxes impacted Lord Voldemort’s facial features. I know Karnam Malleswari isn’t much of a looker but compared to Voldemort well....

There are innumerable facts to back up claims that these drugs can, in the long run, kill the users. But let’s leave facts aside. Perhaps look at it from a moral point of view.
Should taking supplements be illegal? That depends, of course, on whether you want a good show. If you don’t , go ahead. Ban the stuff. It’s not going to stop countries from wanting the gold. It hasn’t really stopped countries like China in the past either. Or you could blur the lines a bit, turn a blind eye to what’s going on, and get entertained when the team you root for wins. You think watching Chess is a snore? Wait till they have players on LSD. The chessboard is suddenly a death-maze and the pawns are in fact demons from the movie “Constantine”!
It all boils down to one simple question in the end-
“How badly do you want to win?”

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Vijay Narayan


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