I have written of this issue of trust previously on many occasions and it is such an important subject and I am presenting it again with some updates. My question is, have you ever had a niggling injury or medical problem that just wouldn't go away? It could be the result of an old sports injury, or perhaps you shouldn't have raced your grandchild all the way up that hill, or maybe you have a known chronic condition.
Wouldn't it be nice if you asked your medical adviser for help and he or she said "just take this potion or have this injection, and the problem will go away: trust me, I'm a doctor, or pharmacist, or alternative healer".
But yet, you have no idea what medication the professional is suggesting, and you would like more information.
What would you do? Who would you trust?
Even professionals are humans
I have written in praise of Australian science and Australian scientists. When writing these articles, I check with more than one source. But I need to be able to trust — that if what I first read isn't quite right — then people with more knowledgeable than me will correct it — and I will read the corrections and report them to my readers.
Recipients of sports science advice or supplements have every right to expect the same. Moreover, their health depends on the research and testing being ethical and adequate. Mostly they are. Unfortunately though, scientists and doctors as individuals are only humans, and therefore not perfect.
When dispensing medications or supplements, most will do their best within the law and the limits of their knowledge, but others might have different agendas in trying to go the extra step in improving the performance of the athletes. Moreover a very few will use their position to twist a situation to improve their own private lives. They can then put pressure on vulnerable athletes for reasons unrelated to the sports performance.
The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) seems to be alleging that sometimes a line has been crossed regarding this last point, although for legal reasons details have not been released to the public. They declare that they are trying to prevent further harm and possible corruption, that they do not wish (at this stage) to be punitive. There will of course be law suits and counter-suits to come that have nothing to do with the original effort of the athletes to improve their performance.
Who can you trust?
So who can you trust? The Bible says to trust your own judgement; for example, 2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 13–15:
While evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Confusingly, I note that caffeine (present in tea, coffee, some soft drinks and many sports drinks) was once banned for athletes during a performance, but it is now permitted and is often taken by athletes, concentrated in a pill. No wonder young sports people don't know where to turn for advice! Accreditation of sports scientists is on the agenda now like never before after the Essendon AFL Football Club saga.
So who can young athletes trust? I would suggest something similar to my own research methods - find an independent 'second opinion' such as a private doctor or nutritionist, an older friend of the family, or if an athletes, a sports chaplain who may know professionals who act ethically.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html