Canadian Task Force Promotes Snitching as Solution to Steroids in Sports

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A Canadian task force has come out with several recommendations aimed at reducing the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids in college football. The task force was created in response to the steroid scandal at the University of Waterloo. The scandal resulted in the largest steroid investigation in the history of Canadian college football by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES).

The task force apparently is intent on promoting a culture of snitching in order to combat the culture of doping in college sports. One of the top recommendations involves the establishment of a “snitch line” that players and coaches can call anonymously and rat out players who may be using steroids. The President and Chief Executive Officer of the CCES recognized the Orwellian word play required to convince everyone that a snitch line is not really a snitch line but “part of a comprehensive fight against doping”.

Paul Melia is the president and Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), the body that administers drug testing for athletes. He says tip lines have had mixed results in the world of sport, but it’s something Canada now needs.

“The way you set up this line needs to be carefully thought out, so that you don’t create the impression that it is a snitch line but rather part of a comprehensive fight against doping in sport,” Melia says.

In addition, the task force proposes that players who test positive for steroids and/or are otherwise caught doping should be rewarded for “snitching” with reduced bans. The more players they rat out, the lesser penalties they receive. However, convincing those involved that “snitching” isn’t really “snitching” but a “part of a comprehensive fight against doping” is quite a big challenge for administrators.

Last year, when the CCES began investigating the scandal in Waterloo, the organization offered any player involved in doping a reduced sanction in return for information.

But none of the nine implicated in the scandal took them up on the offer. In fact, some on the football team were upset at the drug testers for even asking.

“[It’s] almost as if [they] viewed athletes willing to use doping agents as, you know, they’re putting themselves at risk in terms of being caught – but they were willing to do that for the team and in some distorted way that became something they admired,” Melia says.

“[The clean players say] I’m not going to rat out my teammate. They’re willing to do that for the team and I’m not going to break code of silence we’ve all implicitly agreed to as being part of this team.”

Does anyone think promoting a “culture of snitching” is the solution to doping in sports?

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport


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