Doping, Banking, Sport & The Jailhouse

Today the Guardian reports that Germany has introduced a new law allowing convicted dopers to be imprisoned for up to three years.  Let's just think about that for a minute.

Imagine a global banking regulator – like the Bank for International Settlements – were to decide it didn’t like bankers drinking.

Their justifications are threefold. "It’s bad for your health; it affects your performance; and it sets a terrible example to young people. And think of all that money at stake! So we’re going to ban it." National regulators enthusiastically concur, and hand over all authority to the global body.

Bankers protest. "But we need a drink to get through the week! How are we supposed to work those long hours, and cope with all that stress, without a drink now and then? Alcohol is perfectly legal. Besides, we’re adults – we know the risks. Isn’t it up to us? Who are you to tell us what we can and can’t do with our health – with our own bodies?"

The BIS brushes these comments aside. You should be working clean, they say. You shouldn’t need anything unnatural to get through the working week. Why should you benefit, when non-drinkers are unable to get highly paid jobs like yours just because they choose not to rely on an unnatural crutch like alcohol? You’re cheating those people out of an honest livelihood - in direct contravention of the Spirit of Banking!

So, without dialogue, consultation or any show of empathy, they decide that no one who drinks alcohol will be allowed to work in banking. Coordinating with national regulators, they introduce a system of rules and punishments. Anyone found with any amount of alcohol in their system, however tiny, will have their accreditation removed, & so will lose their livelihood. What’s more, the BIS will introduce a system of testing, where a medical professional is entitled to demand blood or urine samples from any banker – not only in the workplace, but any time, day or night, wherever the banker is (and to watch while the samples are produced). To facilitate this, bankers must tell the BIS where they are going to be at all times. Anyone who refuses, or who isn’t where they said they will be, will also have their authorisation withdrawn.

Teetotal bankers hold angry protests, demanding that drink cheats be drummed out of the business. Retired bankers make tearful confessions on Oprah, revealing the sordid details of their 3-glass a day Châteauneuf-du-Pape habit. Millions of newspapers are sold with headlines revealing how top executives visited dodgy doctors in Spain, who supplied them with bottles of sherry and minty mouth freshener to hide the evidence.

Then national governments get involved. What a capital idea, they say! Those cheating, dirty bankers, with their boozing ways! This can’t be tolerated! So we’ve got a better idea. Let’s not just take their livelihoods away and destroy their reputations. Let’s put them in prison for a couple of years as well!

Of course, no one would ever suggest this. Bankers would never tolerate such intrusive, patronising treatment. What’s more, banking isn’t like sport. It’s nowhere near as important.

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