Let’s start by getting real. Most world class athletes have been tempted at one stage or another. Ours is not a moral crusade to value those who claim a pure motivation over and above those who admit to temptation. Indeed, we remain incredulous that many sports prefer to tarnish their dopers rather than bringing them inside to help find the solution.
To this day, we wonder if the likes of David Millar, a vociferous and courageous ex-doper from pro cycling have ever actually been brought into the inner circle within his own sport. If not, why not. Agents understand those pressures and temptations better than most as they sit in the pro world day in, day out. Controversially, we do believe the testers will get ahead of the athletes – but we chose our words very carefully in that phrase – ‘will’ not ‘are’. In the past, doping was often institutionally and professionally organised – teams, managers, doctors all using their undoubted skills and talents to create a supply chain and R&D process that stood every chance of being better funded and faster than any attempt to catch them.
However, we are persuaded that much of the ‘organised crime’ of doping has gone and it is now more than ever the decision of an athlete to break the rules and become a one-man drug-taking enterprise. The risks of being caught go up exponentially and the punishments are harsh. The grey area remains in the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) and not a week goes by where a sport somewhere in the world isn’t highlighted because of its unusual TUE activities. But the answer is not to ban TUE’s but to use the data collected to launch a publicly transparent debate about why, for example, so many asthma sufferers need a TUE in the first place – is the banned list actually in anyway representative of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) or a historic anachronism of what should be a data and science led list today….?