In competitive sports, the pressure to be the best athlete is getting increasingly higher. Athletes are venturing into “deviant” actions to beat their competition.
Olympic swimmer, Ryan Lochte, was caught doping, causing him to be banned for 14 months from the sport. After posting an Instagram picture of himself receiving an intravenous injection, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced his ban in July 2018. (see the picture below)
According to Lochte, he was not intentionally being “deviant”. He claims that he was only injecting vitamins, with hopes of improving his immune system to fight against a cold his family had. Although this ban could ruin his chances of competing in the 2020 Olympics, Lochte took his punishment with civility. He hopes that others will learn from his mistakes.
“There was no prohibited substances in the infusion… when I was feeling run down from training, I did not want to get sick myself so I went and got the IV… I was not aware of [the new rules]… I have never attempted to gain any advantage over my competition by putting anything illegal in my body. This is very serious to me… I accept that there is a technical violation…” Ryan Lotche in his ESPN Interview
Lochte’s banning brings up the question: are athletes being too closely monitored? Lochte was kicked out of his profession for thinking he was avoiding illness, instead of trying to get the upper hand in competition. He was exposed on his Instagram account, meaning athletes’ social media accounts are closely inspected as ever.
The ban also brings up the question about whether taking vitamins or supplements in sports be cause for suspension? Lotche claims his actions were not deviant, and he was simply trying to avoid illness. He was honest and accepted his punishment without fighting it. Many other athletes are caught with positive doping tests from taking supplements, even for the most honest reasons (see Tscholl and colleagues’ article for more information).
Has the sports industry gone too far in implementing honesty in sports? Are they invading the private lives of athletes inappropriately? Should Lochte have gotten a free pass because he was unaware of the new regulations? Should taking vitamin supplements be cause for suspensions or bans from sport?