Doping sanctions and the bigger picture.



We are here to talk about athlete retirement in all its forms. Some of us are lucky enough to decide when we retire but for some, that decision is taken for us and sometimes in unfortunate circumstances. Crossing the Line takes a look at the recent doping news that has emanated from rowing in Great Britain. Will this mistake by some young guys now affect the rest of their lives in a negative way? Could it have been handled differently to ensure that these student rowers aren’t going to live with these unintended consequences for the rest of their lives? Did the punishment fit the crime?

We asked a man with an educated opinion……

My name is Joerg Jaksche. I was a professional cyclist for a decade, racing the Tour de France and other monuments of cycling. I was a member of highly successful teams and was able to win some iconic races.

But I was also doped for ten years. EPO, growth hormone, cortisone and blood transfusions were the state of the art doping methods and I used them all to be competitive in an environment where doping was daily routine. I admitted to having used all these drugs and got a reduced punishment of one year.

I was shocked when I read about the punishment of the two British rowers who tested positive for cocaine and modafinil. These two kids, 21 and 22, got busted for party and study drugs, and received a reduced sanction of two instead of four years because there was no performance enhancement related to the abuse. To break it down they got sanctioned for something they (1) did not do to enhance their performance and (2) it did not even enhance their performance.

We are not talking about EPO or blood bags, we are talking about the product that could be found on the toilet of the German Bundestag where politicians try to get through their boring daily routine.

Even more shocking was the statement released by the British rowing federation criminalizing these 2 students and lifting them on one level to a professional doper like I was. The kids did nothing wrong in their sports, I assume they are good and straight forward sportsmen but they did what many kids do these days – they tried out drugs. Either because they wanted to have fun or because the pressure between studying and performing in the sport was too big and they needed a studying drug.

Instead of offering their help to the two rowers the worst outcome happened – they were made out to be doping offenders.

Their rowing career is over and whatever they will do, for whatever job they will apply for, they will forever be “googlable” because of their positive doping case. Furthermore which sense of justice does the British Rowing Federation transport to these young kids? The verdict reads like we know you didn’t dope but we criminalize you because the regulations are the regulations! Is this the way a federation should guide young athletes?

To fight the war against doping we need more common sense and the British Rowing Federation just showed us that they may have to google the meaning of common sense.

Are these boys getting the psychological and emotional support that they need to deal with this transition nightmare?