Previous posts have underscored the futility of using the criminal law to control the use of recreational drugs and recently we have seen how drug use in the world of professional sports can be dealt with effectively without recourse to criminal proceedings. Ironically, it seems the most primitive sports, boxing and mixed martial arts, are dealing with the problem the most effectively whereas the mainstream sports pay lip service to the objective of eliminating the use of performance enhancing drugs while refusing to implement the most obviously effective method of detection: Olympic style frequent random testing.
The fact that recently the possibility of a “Fight of the Century” between boxers Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather has been made contingent on the athletes accepting extensive drug testing has increased public awareness of the existence of effective measures to prevent the use of illegal substances. It was also encouraging to see the reaction of UFC boss Dana White to the news of one of its stars, Alistair Overeem, failing a random test which was carried out just prior to a pre-fight news conference. Mr. White unleashed a tirade of critical comments, which included the words “dummy”, “moron” and “loser”, while making it clear the lucrative fight would be cancelled unless the result was shown to be incorrect. In these instances, more progress was made toward eliminating the problem of substance abuse than the protracted and unproductive criminal proceedings involving celebrity athletes in other sports.