HEAVY WEIGHT: like it or not doping will always be a part of competitive sport.
HEAVY WEIGHT: like it or not doping will always be a part of competitive sport. Mike Richards GLA210415SPORTSPOW

Don't hate the player, hate the doping game

SHORT PASS: Before I start my rant about doping in sport, I just want to say as a bit of a disclaimer that I am not condoning or supporting the taking of banned substances in competitive sport in any way but, rather, the factors that may contribute to doping.

In what has been the biggest news in what I would say a relatively quiet build-up to the Rio Olympics, the Russian team has copped the full wrath of the International Olympic Committee for what it alleges is state-sponsored doping.

To clarify what this means, the committee is alleging the Russian government sponsored drugs to enhance the performance of its athletes.

To evaluate this issue objectively, firstly everybody needs to get off their high horse.

Drugs have been present in sport since professional sport has been around. I guarantee there are many professional athletes taking performance enhancing drugs right now that are going undetected and will continue to go undetected.

To think doping is not happening is naive and we need to change our focus.

My view is that no difference exists between taking a supplement store-bought protein powder and an anabolic steroid.

Both products enhance performance, both products increase muscle mass, both products assist recovery yet one is legal and the other is not.

So why is this the case?

Because one has a terrible impact on the body while they other is just an expensive substitute to a meal.

For the most part, sport's major governing bodies do a fantastic job of looking after the welfare of athletes - hence the use of performance-enhancing drugs is illegal.

However, it is not so athletes can compete on an even playing field as many would like to think.

The sad reality is, when it comes to events like the Olympics, athletes are not equal.

You can not tell me that an athlete from a West African country has access to the same training opportunities as an athlete from the United States.

This disparity is not an excuse for doping but rather a factor that may contribute to it.

What makes an illegal drug illegal is the politics and human decision-making that surrounds it.

Substances come and go from the "banned” list all the time so what is legal today may not be legal tomorrow.

One of the hottest humanitarian debates at the moment is the legalisation of marijuana.

What was classed as one of the hardest drugs around 40 years ago is now marketed as something of a wonder drug with healing properties.

The same can be said of many of the substances that land athletes in trouble.

I think the issues is that when the media reports on such stories, the image conjured is of massive muscle-bound athletes with rope-like veins.

Some athletes will stop at nothing to improve their performance; when it comes to doping what is good for the goose has to be good for the gander.

So don't hate the player, hate the game.