Athletes are not a separate breed of people. But rightly or wrongly, they are treated very differently to the rest of us. In what other profession are people subject to such a high degree of temptation and pressure to use potentially damaging drugs? What other group of people can be expected to supply a urine sample to an employer or professional body at a moment’s notice and all year round? In what other area of drug policy does so much of the stigma and retribution focus on the drug user and so little on suppliers and ‘pushers’ of banned substances?
To raise these kinds of questions is not necessarily to say that the exceptional status of sports cannot be justified; but it is to say that it is exceptional and that it needs to be justified. In 2004, we published a report to open up debate about drugs and sport, and draw out the links with other areas of drug policy.