Should We Accept Steroid Use in Sports?Giants slugger Barry Bonds has long been accused of steroid use. The debate over athletes' use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs has taken on newfound urgency in recent months. A report by former Sen. George Steroids unfair advantage sports, released in December, mentioned dozens of baseball players as having used steroids and described their use as "widespread. And last summer, several riders were dismissed from the Tour de France on charges of using banned substances. Those who oppose the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs say steroids unfair advantage sports the athletes who use them are breaking the rules and getting an unfair advantage over bulking foods. Opponents of the drugs steroids unfair advantage sports the athletes are endangering not only their own health, but also indirectly encouraging youngsters to do the same.
Drugs in sport: what constitutes 'unfair advantage'?
David van Mill does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. The World Athletics Championships are currently in full flow. Three other athletes in the final — Mike Rodgers, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell — had also received previous bans for doping.
Almost everyone seems to be in agreement that performance-enhancing drugs are a blight on competitive sport. Two major claims underpin the aversion to this use of drugs. The first is that it is cheating. The second is that performance-enhancing drugs threaten the health of athletes. The problem is not that athletes try to gain an advantage over their competitors by enhancing their performance. We praise them for doing so, and it is the main goal that athletes set for themselves.
The complaint is not against performance enhancement, but the method by which it is achieved. The real concern behind the cheating claim is that athletes who use drugs are gaining an unfair advantage by accessing something not available to those who follow the rules. Those who use drugs prosper at the expense of those who play fair.
But things are murkier than they seem. How interested are we in fairness in sport? Athletes try to enhance their performance in many ways: All of these are used to gain an advantage, which is often unfair because, like drugs, they are available to some — wealthy athletes rather than cheats — but not to everyone.
The Tour de France, a sporting event well known for drug use, would not suddenly become a level contest if drug use disappeared. The race winner has his performance enhanced by the quality of his team. The Tour would only be a true test of individual riders if teams were banned. Performance is also unfairly enhanced when governments fund athletes. The advantage gained through financial support might be different to that gained by drug use because it is not achieved through underhand means.
But, if fairness is our goal, the source of the disadvantage is secondary. So, if our objection to drugs is that they create an unfair advantage, consistency demands we apply the same standard to many other aspects of athletic competition. There seems to be no reasonable justification for drawing a line in the sand that places drug use on one side and the above-mentioned performance enhancers on the other. Given that drugs are significantly cheaper than psychologists, permitting their use might actually level out the playing field for poorer athletes.
Finally, if fairness is our major concern we can easily solve the problem by lifting the prohibition — thus making drugs available to all athletes.
The second objection is that drug use, unlike coaches and massage therapists, causes harm. Removing the prohibition might make things fairer but it would come at a heavy price. In response to this objection, ethicist Julian Savulescu has argued that performance-enhancing drugs are not particularly dangerous, and if their use was no longer clandestine they would be safer still. Is harm prevention a reasonable justification for limiting drug use in sport?
One thing to bear in mind is that the very act of participating in many sporting activities is dangerous. Climbing, boxing, mixed martial arts, rugby, AFL, NFL, cricket, horse riding and many other sports can cause significant physical harms and sometimes result in death.
There is no rush to ban people from climbing Mount Everest even though it is far more dangerous than taking EPO. Still, NFL athletes are allowed to collide with great force every week. It is certainly not obvious that performance-enhancing drugs cause more damage than high-impact sports. I have not suggested that drug use should be permissible in sport because there might be persuasive arguments for proscription I have not addressed.
But, the two claims most often used for prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs do not seem to provide sufficient grounds for a ban unless one is willing also to prohibit many other aspects of sport in the name of fairness and harm prevention. The business of faith: Inquisition and crime in the Middle Ages — York, York. Methodist Studies Seminar — Manchester, Manchester. Available editions United Kingdom. But is either claim persuasive? Using drugs is unfair The problem is not that athletes try to gain an advantage over their competitors by enhancing their performance.
Sport Drugs in sport Usain Bolt Performance enhancing drugs. Your donation helps deliver fact-based journalism. In the debate on the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport, what should we consider an unfair advantage?
In light of the Australian Crime Commission report into doping, we need to look at how sport scientists are taught. Drugs in sport image from www. Expert Database Find experts with knowledge in: Community Community standards Republishing guidelines Friends of The Conversation Research and Expert Database Analytics Events Our feeds Donate Company Who we are Our charter Our team Our blog Partners and funders Contributing institutions Resource for media Contact us Stay informed and subscribe to our free daily newsletter and get the latest analysis and commentary directly in your inbox.
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