Friday, July 18, 2008

In Which Our Heroine Talks About Cheating

Think back, boys and girls, and remember the days when this blog was about "Hey, today I'm in Outer Mongolia, blind as a bat and cruising around on a train negotiating for raspberries when it stops?" Someday I'll get back to that kind of thing, but for now there seems to be a reactionary trend in what I'm writing. Maybe it is because I am off work "ill" (yeah. Right. I'm not ill enough to be off work. I've told them this repeatedly. My doctor MADE me take two weeks off. Then Occupational Health asked for more time to do assessments. That's taken three weeks, and then after yesterday's two and a half hour assessment, there is now a follow up, and that's not scheduled until a week from Tuesday. Even my boss is starting to wonder when and how I'll get back to work and even though I have taken back to rowing every day, a little farther and further each time, frankly I'm bored out of my brain. And that's with having completed another diploma assessment. Welcome to Europe. I'm begging to go back to work, I've been off for just over a month now and I'm on full pay and accruing vacation time because somehow between now and next June 1 I have to take off six and a half weeks. I'm floored.) but at any rate today's rant and rave is something that has been percolating through discussions round the boathouse of late is whether or not Dwain Chambers should be allowed to go to the Olympics. It is now official, he's not going and I for one am glad.

There's a lot of talk about redemption, etc in all this and while I'm all for rehabilitation and believe firmly in the concept of redemption, I'm also all for consequences of actions. Particularly intentional actions, such as taking illegal substances for performance enhancement. As with most crimes and misdemeanor, he did it because he thought he wouldn't get caught, and indeed he almost didn't. As doping gets more sophisticated, testing and monitoring are constantly a step behind in catching up, and they stayed a step behind Dwaine Chambers. But there are consequences, which he knew would happen if he got caught. He took his suspension, and now he fought the ban. What was the argument?

Restraint of trade.

Restraint of his right to earn an income.

This is where my blood pressure goes sky high. There are so many reasons why this argument fails for me.

1) As the judge stressed, the Olympics are supposed to be an amateur event. The point of it being amateur is that they're not pro. That isn't as much of an issue in track (which is something that then always makes me wonder why there is so much drugging happening in the sport - it isn' t as though someone is signing high money contracts to run the anchor leg of the 2000m relay for Wigan Athletic.) There is no money to be made from the event itself. Of course, if he had won gold or something I suppose there could be endorsement opportunities, but not necessarily. But he'd earn more staying in the UK and getting a job, not racing amateur athletics.

2) As alluded to above, nothing about his going to the Olympics or not prevents him from getting what my gran would call a "proper" job, even in athletics. He's still free to coach, etc. The question of who would hire him, tainted as he is, is another question (and one which I hope would be posed by those who woudl consider getting him as a corporate endorsement) since of course it is roughly equivalent to having Barry Bonds be your guy - the halo of suspicion is all around. Just what's in that gel he's rubbing on you, eh? And of course, like the rest of us, when what we want job wise doesn't happen he's got the opportunity to wait tables, work in a coffee shop and do what it takes to pay the bills, including slinging hash.

3) This is a self created problem. He took the drugs, and then he got caught. There are many professions where if you shoot yourself in the foot intentionally, that's it. You're out of that profession, for the good of the profession and often the public so as to maintain trust. If I, as a solicitor, wander around committing fraud, particualrly with client accounts, and I am caught you better believe I am going to be struck off the register until the day I die. Teachers who kiss their pupils, ditto. Doctors who kill their patients aren't going to be allowed to sign back up. Going to court then claiming "restraint of trade" isn't going to wash in any of these situations, and I'm glad it wasn't permitted here.

There are all sorts of rights in the world, and I'm glad some of them get enforced sufficiently. But there is no right to act like an idiot and be rewarded for it, even if it does happen all too often. If Dwaine Chambers is serving me coffee the next time I turn up at Cafe Nero, I'll admit it now - I'm not tipping.


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