Should drug cheats compete?

There has been much debate over whether athletes who have previously failed drugs tests should be allowed to compete in the upcoming 2012 London Olympics. But should previous drug convictions stand? Or should it be a case of forgive and forget?

In a recent ruling the Court of Arbitration for Sport stated that the British Olympic Association’s bylaw concerning lifetime bans because of performance enhancing drugs misuse does not stand as it is in breach of the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

And rightly so, because this carves the way for top British athletes such as sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar to be able to enter the London Olympics. Chambers received a lifetime banning in 2003 after using the steroid THG and Millar in 2004 after using blood-boosting agent EPO.

But just because they have used drugs once doesn’t mean they will again. Being banned from professionally competing in their chosen sport is the ultimate punishment; however a lifetime banning from anything is nonsensical because people change, mature, learn and grow. And even if the athletes were to once again try to cheat, more stringent drugs tests in the hours leading up to an event would rule out any problems.

While it is understandable that athletes who have stayed on the straight and narrow and not used any sort of performance enhancing drugs will be annoyed by the CAS decision, it is in the spirit of the Olympics that we forgive and forget and give all athletes the benefit of the doubt.

If they go wrong again then they do so with every sports fan in the world watching. Being caught out again shows that they have not learnt and a new ban should be imposed, as if the shame of their transgression wouldn’t be punishment enough. However a large majority will have learnt their lesson and be grateful for their second chance and as a result will compete fairly and honestly.

So athletes with previous bans most definitely should have their slate wiped clean and be allowed to compete in the London Olympics because maybe, just maybe, they could be the ones to bring home the gold.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. You can also click HERE to read blogger Lauren Caton’s counterargument.

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