Nobody who has any knowledge or experience of modern elite sport would deny that the near-constant commercial and other pressures place enormous strain upon athletes and (where appropriate) their teams and coaching staff. There are some sports in which over-playing, tiredness and ‘carrying’ injuries great or small may be more prevalent than others, but these issues apply to all of them.
Drug-taking – either as a means to performance-enhancement, or indeed just to enable a top sportsman to continue playing or training when injured or just in dire need of a rest – is another on-going concern for those who have the long-term interests of participants at heart. The world is littered with former sportsmen and women, whether elite or not, who have to spend their retirements coping with the daily aches, pains and disabilities that their active sports careers have bequeathed to them.
I once attended a ‘sporting discussion’ breakfast at the Wolseley at which a peer of the realm reported upon a conversation he’d had with one of the UK’s top surgeons. Said medical professional had commented that – when it came to protein supplements, let alone many of leading-edge drugs now used in treating injured elite sportsmen – no proper work had yet been done on the long-term effects.
In this context, I wish to bring to the attention of National Rust readers an article by Tim Rich spotted today on the website of THE INDEPENDENT