Canoeist’s spiking of rival’s drink a foolish act devoid of moral integrity

The Yomiuri ShimbunA top canoeist framed a rival to eliminate him as a top athlete.This is totally unacceptable behavior.

At the national canoe sprint championships held in September last year, Yasuhiro Suzuki mixed a banned drug in the drink of his rival, Seiji Komatsu.

Komatsu won the race but tested positive for the drug in a doping test after the race. Komatsu’s result was voided and he was provisionally suspended.

Suzuki bought steroid pills, which increase and strengthen muscles, on the internet. After crushing the pill into powder, Suzuki allegedly slipped the drug into Komatsu’s drink bottle. Several other drink bottles were in the same area.

This clearly illustrates Suzuki’s intention to try to frame his rival.

Suzuki is 32 and Komatsu is 25. They were friends and both were considered among the top contenders for selection for Japan’s team to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Suzuki reportedly thought that if Komatsu was snared by a doping violation, there was a higher chance that he would represent Japan at the Games.

Suzuki has said the emergence of talented younger canoeists meant he could no longer win races at major competitions. Suzuki’s anxiety over the fact that his participation at the 2020 Games was in jeopardy apparently spurred him to commit this foolish act. Even if Suzuki had become a Japan representative through this underhanded method, he would only have tarnished the national team’s status.

Stress importance of morals

This is an unprecedented scandal in Japan. If Suzuki had not come forward and admitted what happened, the sporting career of Komatsu, who had done nothing wrong, could have come to an end.

Suzuki also repeatedly conducted other illegal acts such as stealing the paddles of other canoeists. Not only does this run counter to the spirit of fair play, it also shows a lack of moral fiber and social common sense.

It is clear Suzuki is not entitled to remain a part of the sports world. The Japan Anti-Doping Agency has punished Suzuki by banning him from competition for eight years. The Japan Canoe Federation will recommend at a board meeting and a general meeting that Suzuki be permanently banned. This is a natural course of action.

The federation also cannot escape questions over its supervisory responsibility. Japan won its first medal in canoeing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a feat that attracted greater attention to the sport. This latest incident has sunk the credibility of Japan’s canoeing community in one swoop.

This is an unexpected situation for the Japan Sports Agency, which has been placing a heavy emphasis on doping countermeasures as the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics approach.

Japanese athletes’ reputation for being fair and clean of drugs is well-established around the world. Each sports federation should ensure its athletes observe strict discipline so this trust is not eroded ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

As one risk management step, close consideration must be given to the methods used for storing athletes’ drinks.

It is important that coaches and instructors explain the importance of fair play to children involved in sports. However, before that, they also must be properly taught what constitutes good morals as people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 11, 2018)Speech


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