Opinion: The importance of fair monitoring in athletics

No matter where you live, or where you come from, athletics is something that everyone has either watched or been a part of. Many people fall in love with the sports they play and choose to become professional athletes. Just as there are those who choose to be deceitful in their everyday lives, some professional athletes are dishonest in ways that could potentially affect their careers. 

“Asterisks,” an essay written by Eric Wills for The American Scholar, brings up the topic of cheating in athletics and the ways in which dishonest situations are investigated. In his essay, Wills brings up two world-record Kenyan runners, Eluid Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei. Due to their world record-breaking achievements, both athletes were suspected of cheating, with the possible use of performance enhancement drugs and prohibited equipment. 

To what extent should athletes be monitored in sports?

This is a question that is asked all the time in the realm of sports. Rather than, like a witch hunt, going after athletes who may be involved in “suspicious activity” and making false accusations which could permanently damage the reputation of athletes, the most efficient and respectful way to monitor athletes is for there to be a clear protocol of requirements and rules for athletes to follow in order to compete.

A protocol that is transparent and precise prevents false accusations and is able to ensure the integrity of an athlete while protecting them and their reputation. Having a protocol as a standard in sports enables sports affiliations from having doubts about athletes with exceptional records. Not only would this guarantee the legitimacy of athletes, but it also ensures protection for both the athletes and the sports affiliation. 

When an investigation of an athlete’s integrity arises, either the reputation of the athlete could be severely damaged or the reputation of the sports affiliation could be the one taking the hit.

An investigation goes one of two ways: either the athlete is found guilty and the affiliation made the right decision or the athlete hasn’t done anything wrong and the affiliation is incorrect. Either way, somebody’s reputation will be compromised. The standard protocol will prevent unnecessary doubts which lead to potentially harmful and unnecessary investigations while preserving the reputations of both the athlete and the affiliation. 

In order for this protocol to become a standard in athletics, it is crucial that it is clear and precise. For instance, it is best for athletes to be tested for any performance-enhancing drug use right before their game or competition. This way, any hesitation about when the drugs were administered would not be present and a clear answer could be provided for whether or not the athlete had any sort of performance-enhancing drug in his or her system during the game or competition. 

As for equipment, the most defined way to prevent anyone from questioning whether or not an athlete’s equipment allowed for a more favorable outcome would be through making clear rules about which pieces or types of equipment are accessible, and which are prohibited in the competition. With a clear and standard protocol, the integrity of all athletes can be verified, without suspicions arising and reputations affected.

Although we most likely will never reach a time where cheating is absolutely non-existent, having standard protocol will be the way to tell between athletes who value integrity and those who do not.

Testing each athlete and creating strict and concise guidelines rather than going after potentially innocent athletes and creating a hostile situation where both the athlete’s and the sports affiliation’s reputation could potentially be scarred will only benefit the history of athletics. 

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