As I write this column, I’m angry and confused. Angry with the athletes who choose to dope, and confused as to why the public carries on embracing them, choosing to believe their excuses. – By Cherise Stander
In my opinion, a doper is the same as a common street criminal. They steal from other athletes, they steal their prize money when they cheat at events, they steal marketing and branding opportunities, they steal the public’s support, and they steal sponsors. Most importantly, they give our special sport a bad name.
What’s worse is that when they’re caught, they hardly ever own up to their mistakes – and each one has a more ridiculous excuse than the next. Then, after waiting out their ban, they return to this beautiful sport and want forgiveness.
I’m all for second chances, but we have to own up to our mistakes and work to earn respect again. If I catch my neighbour in my house trying to steal, I phone the police, and hope that he goes to jail. Once he’s out, I wouldn’t trust him on my property again. So why do we embrace dopers and tell them how much the sport has missed them? Most of the time they have sponsors lined up even before their ban is over, while the poor riders trying to make an honest living fight just to survive another month.
If someone is caught for doping and names the source of their ‘stash’, along with the other athletes or doctors involved, I’ll believe they’re truly sorry. But no-one does – so to me, they’re still criminals, and not as sorry as they pretend to be.
I am looking forward to the day that doping sentences get harsher. In an ideal world, dopers would get a criminal record and have to serve jail time; but that’s not happening, so in the meantime, I’m asking the public to be a bit harder on dopers, and to realise the amount of damage they do to our sport. As for race organizers, keep banning them from your events – and well done for taking a stand!