Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What does USA Swimming's suspension say?

You can write to USA Swimming to protest its suspension of Michael Phelps.

This is what I wrote, modifying the form letter from SAFER.

I am writing to encourage USA Swimming to reinstate Michael Phelps and stop driving athletes to drink.

Your organization's suspension of Phelps was intended to "send a strong message." Unfortunately the message is misguided and dangerous -- athletes should only use alcohol when they relax or party.

The government's prohibition on the use of marijuana is illogical. (See Professor Douglas N. Husak's excellent short book, Legalize This!)

What is the benefit to USA Swimming when it punishes swimmers if they use marijuana? None for the swimmers, of course. The punishment hurts the swimmers in order to protect your organization's image -- in some silly way. How crass! As the public outcry has shown, you are hurting your organization's image.

Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is far SAFER than alcohol, both to the user and to society.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control report that alcohol use is a contributing factor in more than 30,000 American deaths each year, including several hundred from overdoses. The CDC reports zero deaths in which marijuana is a contributing factor. There has never been a proven case of a marijuana overdose death.

Studies have concluded that alcohol use contributes to aggressive behavior and violent crimes -- including assaults, domestic violence, sexual assaults and date rapes -- whereas marijuana use does not.

If alcohol contributes to so many serious problems and marijuana does not, why would USA Swimming prefer its athletes use alcohol instead of marijuana? And why would it punish those who wish to make the rational, safer choice to use a less harmful substance than they'd otherwise use?

I hope you will take this information into consideration, reinstate Michael Phelps, and refrain from sending pro-alcohol, anti-marijuana messages to athletes in the future.

Eric E. Sterling

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