Latest news in the UK has featured two knights of the realm. The demise was introduced of Sir Roger Bannister, the athlete who ran the primary 4-minute mile in Oxford in 1954 and was later knighted for his contributions to medicine. Bannister competed in the novice era and was said to have derived no financial benefit from sport. Alternatively, Sir Bradley Wiggins, performed in the modern period in which all elite sport is professional and richly rewarded. He was within the news because a Parliamentary committee had discovered that though he had accomplished nothing illegal, he had nevertheless acted unethically in taking prescribed medicine not for treating an affliction but purely to enhance his performance in winning the Tour de France cycle race in 2012. This latest in a long sequence of stories of drug abuse in professional sport raises the question of whether or not it’s still sport within the traditional sense, and whether ethical behaviour can survive in an era ruled by big business.
International biking competition had gained a bad repute for drug abuse when a former seven-instances winner of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, was stripped of all his achievements on the revelation of his abuses in 2012. The United States Anti-Doping Company described him as the ringleader of “probably the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” The Sky cycling staff, of which Wiggins was a member, was launched on the declare of being a champion of clean sport. It has now been revealed as appearing in a way that was technically authorized but unethical, behaviour that can be considered as characteristic of a lot of contemporary business.
One other interesting reflection on developments in modern sport was provided just lately by FIFA’s determination to permit using TV monitoring facilities in soccer matches to aid referees’ decisions. Various systems are already in use in cricket and rugby, the place spectators are shown replays on a big TV screen. Nevertheless, replays of motion is not going to be displayed in this way at soccer matches on the grounds that fans would not be prepared to accept marginal choices that go against their team. This is unquestionably a extreme condemnation of a sport by its own ruling body, and shows to what depths sportsmanship and ethics have sunokay in this most commercialised of sports.
The lesson from all this would seem to be that the authorities will continue to battle for legality in sport, as in enterprise, but that little may be done to make sure ethical behaviour, and pure sportsmanship will be anticipated to outlive only in the beginner arena.
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