Yes to sports, no to drugs : Russian cyclists take message around the world
17 December 2012 - Russian cyclists Pavel Grachev and Alen Khairullin are on a mission. Riding 21,000 kilometres around the world, they have a simple message: a healthy lifestyle helps you kick drugs. Stopping in Vienna during their 13-country itinerary, the pair last week visited UNODC to learn about the Office's efforts to combat illicit drugs.
"Sports and a healthy lifestyle provide a perfect alternative to drug abuse", said Pavel, a 47-year-old English and history teacher from Kazan, Tatarstan, in the Russian Federation. "We are trying to bring this idea to everybody we meet, to show how beautiful the world is, to refuse just spending one's life in vain on drugs". His companion Alen, a 26-year-old computer engineer, added: "It is as simple as that. You will never think of poisoning yourself with dangerous substances if you do sports. A healthy body lives a healthy spirit."
While in Vienna, the two campaigners met UNODC Civil Affairs Officer Mirella Dummar Frahi, who commended their determination to brave the bad weather and take their message across the world. "Children look to their teachers as role models and your message for a healthy lifestyle will inspire them," she said.
Drug use prevention requires concerted action from individuals and the community. UNODC supports various initiatives from NGOs across the world through grants made via the UNODC Youth Initiative. This initiative seeks to empower young people from around the globe to become active in their schools, communities and youth groups for the prevention of substance abuse, and to harness the power of social media to share experiences and ideas with each other. Young people have, for example, organized sport activities in support of healthy lifestyles and the development of self-esteem and social skills. The experiences of Pavel and Alen are a good example of how individuals can effectively raise awareness to change societies by refusing to accept drugs as a way of life.
The fifth edition of the World Cycling Tour, organized by "Tatarstan for a Healthy Lifestyle," an annual cycling marathon against drug use, got under way in Kazan on 3 November. Their trip will take them through Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, USA, China and Kazakhstan. One of the main ideas of this tour is to replicate these kinds of drug prevention events in the different countries visited. The tour is also dedicated to the memory of Onisim Pankratov, a Russian cyclist who completed the first worldwide bicycle tour in 1913.