Drug abuse

In this essay I will discuss how international sports bodies detect and prevent deviance in sport. This can include drug abuse, violence and bias. How they use technology and such methods to cut deviance down as much as possible. At the end of this essay I will have come to a conclusion and will be able to say whether deviance can ever be stopped altogether. The reason why anyone cheats (breaking the rules of the sport) is to gain unfair advantage over the opposition. In a global context, the notion of cheating can be rather more difficult to define than in the case of any specific culture. Cultural values and codes of behaviour vary, so that which is seen as cheating in one part of the world may not be regarded quite so harshly in another.

At an international level, appropriate legislation and punishment to combat cheating has a much broader dimension than when considered in the purely domestic sense. Agreement is difficult to achieve across a range of cultures, and effective monitoring and implementation on a global scale is fraught with rather more problems than at national level. In global games a further layer of administration often complicates matters. Where many sports are involved, as in the Olympics Commonwealth Games, then the IOC or the Commonwealth Games Committee are the respective bodies responsible.

This requires very close liaison with a range of international governing bodies, each of which has responsibility for the running of their own particular sport. With the Olympics, IOC has its own testing laboratories, as do some of the sports governing bodies. The IOC insists on dealing with transgressions of its rules but then requires individual sports governing bodies to support it, or rule on its behalf. In individual sports such as athletics, its world championships are organised and administered by the sport’s own governing body, the IAAF. This means that only one body is responsible and it is quite straightforward for the IAAF to deal with it. This is rather different from the scenario at the major multi-sport global games.

There are many types of deviance in global games and can happen in the form of gamesmanship or just plain cheating. Gamesmanship is the intention to compete to the limit allowed by the rules and beyond, if it can be achieved without penalty, for example; diving in the box in football in search of a penalty. Cheating is breaking the rules of sport, for example; taking performance enhancing drugs.

The use of illegal substances, along with the biased behaviour of some officials and violent behaviour both on and off the pitch, can all be seen as the result of increased emphasis on winning rather than simply taking part. This could be an effect of commercialisation on sport because media is a source of funding for events and competitions and if it starts to become more competitive then more money is going to get involved. This then means there is going to be a bigger prize. Not only will there be a huge cash prize but there is also the chance of fame, which then brings more money and in the end the person could become a national hero. So the prize is so much bigger than it used to be and so the athletes want the prize more and more. This then obviously leads to more and more cheating, and ways that athletes try to swindle the system.

In the case of drug taking there is little doubt that nearly all cases are pre-meditated. They are also perpetrated with the sole intention of gaining unfair advantage. Although there is debate surrounding this topic, the present rules are quite clear and people found to be in breach of them have little to offer in their defence. Or have they? Recent cases have highlighted errors in testing procedures as well as instances where it is claimed that illegal substances have been created naturally in an athletes own body. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for sports governing bodies to frame effective legislation in this sphere. It is even more difficult to a apply such legislation in situations where scientific knowledge is being updated more quickly than legislation. Whilst this situation continues, it presents a threat to fair-minded sportsmen and women; it also provides opportunities for those with an intention to cheat to do so with impunity.

Another type of deviance that governing bodies have to deal with is violence and this is where video evidence has been useful in the identification and subsequent arrest of those guilty of violence. Without the technology we have today a lot more violence would happen, but the governing bodies would not be able to punish the person because they would have no evidence. Violence is less frequent now in the UK than what it was 20 years ago and this is probably linked with the fact we have better technology because athletes now know this and are more scared to commit a violence offence such as a footballer jumping up to header a ball but elbowing the defender in face whilst doing so. If the referee does not see this then we have video evidence.

In global sport, administrators and governing bodies have a difficult task when framing rules and disciplinary codes which take account of cultural differences, impartially and effectively. For example, some cultures are referred to as being hot-blooded or hot-tempered and their behaviour may be quite fiery; and what is acceptable in the physical rough and tumble of the English premier league may not be so to players from another culture.

And then there is bias. This only becomes a concern for governing bodies when it crosses the line. Biased behaviour on the part of sports fans is an acceptable part of supporting one’s team or individual sportsperson. However when such behaviour and racial and other personal remarks are targeted at particular individuals, it is generally regarded as reprehensible. The biased behaviour of officials is, on the other hand, always unacceptable. Care must be taken to differentiate between behaviour that is intentionally biased and that which is perhaps the result of genuine error, or simply a differing point of view. This is quite difficult for governing bodies to prevent and the best way that they can do so is to monitor officials performances and if the governing bodies think they have been biased on more than one occasion they can get rid of them.

Sport was once run by largely amateur officials whose middle-class morality and sense of fair play made the rules. Today, sports administrators working globally have to accommodate a range of moralities. They must also contend with largely professional performers, political influence, commercial and media interests and with common law. This leaves sport governing bodies with a very difficult task indeed. Deviance has been in sport since day one and will continue to do so for a very long time to come.

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