Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Doping and O' .... again...


Doping and orienteering has come up as a discussion topic again. I've bumped into discussions at the Norwegian O-Nett and the Swedish Alternativet. Both discussions have had links to a discussion over a year ago on the OK forum.

Here is a quote from one of the Norwegian commentators, "I Orientering er det lite penger innvolvert og det tror jeg er en av grunnene til at vi til nå ihvertfall har unngått doping skandaler." What that means is, "there isn't much money involved in orienteering and that is one reason we have avoided doping scandals."

Does money cause doping?

I don't think money causes doping. I don't think athletes who are doping are doing so for normal rational economic reasons.

Doping is like fraud. It is like an employee who is stealing from their job. The employee doesn't sit there and calculate the amount of money they can steal and the likelihood of getting caught. They don't balance the "benefit" of stealing $20 from the cash register versus the risk of getting caught, fired and perhaps even prosecuted. They just take the money. Fraud examiners find that many employees committing fraud justify their theft (e.g., "I'm underpaid and under appreciated, this is just paying me what I'm really worth to the company.").

Orienteers aren't likely to earn much money, but that doesn't mean they treat their sport as a rational economic exercise. If money drove my decisions, I wouldn't be an orienteer. I wouldn't take vacation days from work to pay my way own to A-meets.

Some doping probably is driven by money. A professional football player might take steroids that they wouldn't take if they were in college. Maybe.

A lot of doping is probably a mistake. An athlete takes a "supplement" that turns out to include an illegal substance. Sometimes it probably happens because an athlete doesn't realize the substance is illegal or doesn't realize the substance is in the supplement.

I don't really know what should be done about doping, but I think it is a bad idea to assume doping isn't a problem because there isn't a lot of money in orienteering.

Assuming money drives doping is dangerous because we then assume that a sport like orienteering is clean.

I hope orienteering is a clean sport.

I hope government employees aren't stealing tax money.

But, relying on hope isn't a responsible approach to a problem, especially when it is based on treating doping as a decision based on a rational cost/benefit analysis.

posted by Michael | 1:18 PM


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