In squash, I believe performance enhancing drug use to be negligible at this point in time but would guess that recreational drug use is much more common, even during World Tour events.
Both are unacceptable for differing reasons. Both should carry heavy penalties. I believe any testing carried out should also be open to public scrutiny.
The Spanish doctor Eufemanio Fuentes – currently on trial for masterminding a major doping ring in cycling – has indicated that cycling accounts for a mere 30% of his client list, with the remaining 70% as yet unidentified. With football, tennis, athletics and boxing implicated it would be naive to think that performance enhancing drugs have not been made available to squash players in the past and that they won’t be in the future.
Olympic inclusion will further incentivise squash players to seek all possible paths to improvement in pursuit of the ultimate in sporting glory.
It is already the case that players are insisting on extra rest days during events to cope physically with the demands of playing high intensity tournament squash on consecutive days. The inability to recover fully overnight is the primary cause of poor performance and is a condition that performance enhancing drugs can help eradicate.
From a training perspective the degree of physical conditioning required to compete consistently at the highest level is phenomenal with the boundaries constantly being pushed. Furthermore, sports scientists provide us with the understanding of the exact physical criteria needed to succeed. In modern society where the prevailing attitude is one of instant gratification, the temptation to err from legitimate means of achieving these physical targets will surely present a difficult moral dilemma for many. The obvious appeal to cut considerable time from this process may be a risk some are willing to take.
After all, sportspeople are in essence ordinary folk with qualities and flaws alike, each capable of making good or bad decisions. Like countless athletes before who have succumbed to the murky world of cheating, the desire to win can come out in many ways.
As our own “Back the Bid” gathers pace so should our efforts to curtail any thoughts that drug taking in any form will be tolerated at any level in the sport.