Drug misuse in sports - Age-old beliefs are tested again

ONE of the consequences, one not initially appreciated possibly, of the scandals that hit the Catholic Church over recent decades is that many honest Catholics struggle to remain loyal to the institution of that Church. The contrast between the Church’s message and the practice was so great that faith was tested. Faith did not always endure and what was once a cornerstone in a person’s life was taken away.

Catholicism is not by any means the only pillar organisation to confound those who once offered unquestioning loyalty; banks, An Garda Síochána and in one way or another, government, have undermined their credibility and test the loyalty of those they depend on for legitimacy.

We are, it seems, at the same point with professional sport. This week’s report, that found that Team Sky cyclists crossed a line in misusing medication suggests that efforts to reform that chemically-driven spectacle were unsuccessful.

That the report came after a leak from a Russian source adds a certain symmetry to the cycling circus. Russia, after all, is the pace-setter in this corruption of something once imagined pure and inspirational.

Like a loyal Catholic struggling to cling to age-old beliefs despite scandal after scandal an adult trying to encourage a young person to commit to a sport needs a new vocabulary and a new kind of determination. All is not lost but, on this toxic issue, we are in extra time.

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