Prescribed medication is not doping


"0416 track feet" by iowa_spirit_walker is marked with CC BY 2.0.

There are horror stories of doping accusations for the smallest things ranging from recreational use of legal drugs to antibiotic prescriptions when they get a sore throat. Anything is a threat to an athlete’s dignity.

On Sept. 13, 2016, Simone biles took to Twitter to address a pressing concern among sports fans and Olympic sponsors. “I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid. Please know, I believe in clean sport, have always followed the rules and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me.”

The issue is much bigger than Simone Biles and the nameless, creditless, accusations of a professional athlete doping. This issue has to do with the entirety of the sports worlds’ stigma against any medication that isn’t the regular run-of-the-mill muscle soothers.

It feels as if the world of athletic sports looks at its hard-working, dedicated players with judgment if they are anything but in tip-top shape mentally, physically and emotionally. Otherwise, they can’t seem to be called an “athlete.”

This type of stigma can seriously hurt an athlete’s confidence. Seasoned veterans of their respective sport can tell you horror tales of doping accusations for the smallest things ranging from recreational use of legal drugs to the antibiotic prescription they were prescribed when they got a sore throat. Anything is a threat to their dignity as an athlete.

This stigma attacks the integrity of the player. Not only does an athlete get stigmatized by the doctors within the sport, but by many of their coaches as well. The topic of mental health is taboo for the same reason- you must be in top shape all around to call yourself an athlete. There’s this toxic belief that any and everything can be controlled and fixed by willpower and determination, when certain factors, many factors, simply don’t work that way.

You cannot will away a mental illness, a trigger or an episode/attack. You are simply a slave to your habits and untreated illness will develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. This is a fact I know from personal experience, being a relatively intensely active individual while having decided to get serious about my own mental health part way through my first year in college, I was so late to prevent so many things that I now suffer from in my adult life. But I am now treated, and most importantly, aware. Awareness is the biggest thing, to simply know you have an issue and to know that you’re not ‘broken’ or ‘wrong.”

So yes, I will bring up a controversial topic. Athletes should have the freedom to feel encouraged and confident in admitting they are not fully in control and be able to comfortably say that there are hands reaching out to them to help them in all ways. From pain medication after a particularly hard hit to a severe mental illness treatment plan, there should be nothing but support along the road of discovery and resolution.

Simone Biles may have been a single voice of many in this case, but her stance reaches eyes far and wide. I’m sure this is only the start. Everyone deserves to have the relief of an audience who understands them, especially those under such pressure to push their bodies to the limit and break boundaries everyday.