Young athletes hoping to become elite sportsmen and women must steer clear of all temptations to take performance enhancing drugs, insists Argentina rugby captain Felipe Contepomi.
With the financial rewards that come with professional sporting contracts, Contepomi believes the temptation for young athletes to cheat their way into the elite sporting ranks is stronger than ever.
Contepomi, a veteran of four Rugby World Cups and capped 75 times by the Pumas, is a recent addition to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Athlete Committee that met in Tokyo on Tuesday.
As a qualified medical doctor, Contepomi has a particular concern for young athletes who see drugs as a guaranteed ticket to success.
“The temptation to take drugs is there for all athletes, but I believe the temptation can be even stronger for the younger generation,” said Contepomi, who plays for French club Stade Français in Paris.
“If you are a young athlete hoping to win a professional contract or make it into the next grade of elite sport then you may think that drugs will help you.
“I read about it in my own sport, young rugby players looking to gain weight and muscle to improve their chances of getting taken on by a club.
“The only guarantee with taking drugs is that you are putting your health at risk. There is no question about this.”
In addition to communicating the obvious health risks that come with drug taking, Contepomi believes education has a strong role to play in promoting the ethical aspects of sport.
“Athletes that use drugs to cheat their way on to a podium or to secure a place on a team really have achieved nothing,” added Contepomi.
“Sport is about fair play and honesty, and if you take drugs then you can never be a champion, no matter how fast you run or swim, or how far you throw and how many goals you score.
“You have to be true to yourself and compete as a clean athlete. You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say everything I achieved has been down to genuine effort.”