Athletics: Coach says drugs should be legalised

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The Independent Online
WILF PAISH, a leading British athletics coach, has called for the legalisation of performance-enhancing drugs in sport.

Paish, who guided Tessa Sanderson to a gold medal in the javelin at the 1984 Olympics and was also in charge of the South African track and field team at the last Games in Atlanta, made his comments for the BBC television programme Heart of the Matter, scheduled to be broadcast last night.

"We should see drug-taking as an acceptable way of enhancing performance in sport," the 65-year-old said. "[Doping] rules as they are applied now simply do not work and I say they should be scrapped. Even the infamous steroids have been shown to be safe when taken on their own and under supervision. Meanwhile, many top athletes are taking banned drugs and getting away with it. Why be hypocrites?"

Paish, who has also worked with the England cricket team and Halifax rugby league side, said athletes would continue to take a chance with drugs because the rewards for success are so high.

His comments follow swiftly on similar calls by John Hawley, a South African sports scientist, and Claudio Tamburrini, an Argentinian who is the senior philosophy lecturer and researcher at Gothenburg University.

"The ban on doping is paternalistic because the main reason advanced for the ban is to protect the sportsman's health," Tamburrini said in December. "No one would dream of sanctioning career-minded people who work too hard and ruin their health. Elite sport is now a profession like any other."

He called the ban on drugs "unworkable", and unreasonable limitation on a professional athlete's ability to develop.

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