The Morality of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports

 

There is a seeming nonstop cacophony of officials from the media, International Olympic Committee (IOC), World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), NCAA and others who profess to impose their self-righteous views on athletes and the general public as to the horrors of utilizing so called “banned” substances to enhance athletic performance.  The fact of the matter is that athletes and their sponsors, from around the world, have sought out methods of improving performance since the beginning of organized athletics. It is a relatively recent occurrence that self-appointed organizations such as the IOC, NCAA, and WADA have deemed the practice of athletes using methods or substances to improve the strength, speed, and endurance of their performance, to be tantamount to a “sin” and a shameful crime on the purity and sanctity of athletic competition.

This is, in this humble author’s opinion, remarkably hypocritical as the athletes are often pawns in the game of big business athletics where corporations, sponsors, governments, and the organizing committees themselves receive hundreds of millions of dollars per year promoting sports and specific events. Furthermore, the over reach of these organizations has become ridiculously cumbersome. When something as benign as an over the counter medication, such as Sudafed, becomes classified as a PED, well, the definition of a “performance enhancing drug” has surely become obscured.

The question that should be raised is, why all the sanctimonious blustering about the purity of sport and the repulsiveness of utilizing PEDs to improve performance? How many times has it been reported that athletes, particularly professional athletes, are given a mere slap on the wrist for criminal behavior, whereas an Olympic contender or amateur athlete can be banned for life for the transgression of consuming a cold medicine? If competitors wish to ingest, consume, or otherwise employ performance enhancing substances, then I say, have at it. As long as the risks are well known and it’s not injuring anyone else, who are the NCAA, IOC, and WADA to dictate what a consenting adult can or can’t do?

I for one would thoroughly enjoy seeing a 7.0 second 100 meter dash, or a 35 foot long jump, or a 1000 lb. clean and jerk. Let the athletes determine how far they can push the limits of human performance and not some secretive group of officials who wish to impose their own flawed sense of morality.

Dr. Vincent K. Ramsey is Chair of Sports Exercise Science at the United States Sports Academy. He can be reached at vramsey@ussa.edu.

 

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