Doping in sport – fraud or equality of the field?
Soccer, soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming, cycling, athletics, bodybuilding, baseball, weightlifting, boxing, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, and other sports all have a track record of performance enhancing drug use. Every year over 3000 athletes worldwide are tested positive for prohibited substances.
As quoted in a published article, “I took EPO, growth hormone, anabolic steroids, testosterone, amphetamine for two years. Just about everything. That was part of the job. ”- Erwan Mentheour, cyclist.
On December 5, 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned Russia from taking the national team to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February 2018. This decision was a penalty for conducting a government sponsored doping program. If Russian athletes independently prove that they are clean, they can compete under the Olympic flag in these games.
The big question is whether the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport should be allowed in any form?
Every year, top athletes make millions of dollars in compensation and millions more in sponsorship and endorsements. The lure of success, enormous financial and social rewards create an incentive to win at all costs, including cheating. The benefits of fraud far outweigh the penalties. A six month to one year non-compete agreement is a small price to pay when it comes to multi-million dollar multi-year contracts.
The selection of elusive “performance enhancement” drugs consists of a number of specialized, highly potent chemical products that are readily available for various targeted results. Anabolic steroids are natural and synthetic derivatives of the male sex hormone testosterone. Steroids help build muscle mass, enable athletes to train harder and facilitate quick recovery from strenuous workouts. Small doses of androgen, an anabolic steroid, can increase muscle strength by around 5-20%. Other drugs, erythropoietin (EPO) and growth hormone, contribute to a performance benefit by biotechnologically enhancing the body’s ability to use, produce, and deliver oxygen to working muscles – a technique popularly known as blood doping . Most of these drugs mimic natural chemicals in the body, making them difficult to detect.
Huge rewards for the winner combined with the low chance of getting caught make doping too tempting.
On the dark side, doping athletes run the risk of minor to life-threatening side effects. According to the late Dr. Gary I. Wadler, an American internist with expertise in drug use in sports states in a published article, “Athletes live in a world of invincibility and denial. You will hear me say it’s dangerous, but your risk / reward balance is so skewed that you ignore the risk even if it shortens your life. “
On the sidelines, performance enhancing drugs offer an asymmetrical advantage to the players taking them, as do alternative agents for advanced coaching and training programs. Wiring athletes to monitoring devices to orchestrate optimal heart, muscle, brain, and nerve performance; Access to a team of sports specialists; Altitude training to increase oxygen uptake is asymmetrical.
Bryant McKinnie, a former American football offensive tackle, who is 6 feet 8 inches tall, says, “Athletes cheat on players like me.” He continues sincerely: “My size and strength are hard to beat. Some of these athletes have families to support and in turn use drugs to compete with big guys like me. ”As he thought about his football career, he felt a little challenged as he was not only competing with well-trained athletes, but probably with them some well-trained athletes loaded on enhancement drugs. He continued, “The drugs, regimen, and how to avoid detection are offered through the support ecosystem and are readily available.” He puzzles as he says, “Regulation of drugs could make the stage fair.”
Top-class sport is not just about watching players compete. Rather, it is about recognizing the exceptional performance. Some of the best players are not only talented performers, but virtuosos and masters as well. Top sport has become the domain of the gifted and can be biased in any way against the disadvantaged. Biological manipulation through enhancement drugs is, for some, a means of leveling the playing field.
Ian James Thorpe, a retired Australian swimmer, has big feet which gave him a tremendous advantage. Michael Phelps, a former American competitive swimmer and the most highly decorated Olympian of all time, like most other world-class swimmers, is made for swimming. They’re usually tall, muscular, long-armed, and often have a longer-than-average torso with relatively shorter legs. However, it takes a lot more than just the right physique to get to the top. Physical advantages give you a head start, but are not enough on their own. Michael Phelps’ talent and techniques, excellent striking mechanics, combined with a wild focus, zest for action, competitive character and practice have delivered the elite performance. Tiger Woods, the famous golf legend, developed the perfect swing to hit a ball 250 yards in a straight line, likely after hitting many thousands of balls.
David Epstein, the author of the book, The sports gene, States in a published interview“Genetics affects pretty much everything, but definitely not almost everything.” “Genes are predisposition, not fate. The biological setup allows one to benefit more than the other. ”He argues that the intersection of genes, training, economic incentives and cultural institutions is what defines the athlete.
It is a combination of several beneficial genetic traits and environmental factors that make the great athlete.
Professor Julian Savulescu, in a Oxford University publication, argues that instead of banning performance-enhancing drugs, we should regulate their use. He says, “By allowing everyone to use drugs, we level the playing field.” He goes on to say, “We are eliminating the effects of genetic inequality. Far from being unfair, allowing performance upgrades promotes equality. ”The incentive to develop undetectable drugs without worrying about safety could cause long-term harm to athletes.
In the above publication from the University of Oxford, other experts disagree. Sports medicine specialists Leon Creaney and Anna Vondy say: “The arguments against doping in sport are moral, not medical.” You continue to write: “Athletes who want to lead a healthy life would be completely suppressed. Soon only the competition for the development of the strongest drugs would matter, and the athletic opponents would enter into an exchange of ever-increasing doses in order to be ahead of each other Consumption would expand exponentially and penetrate deeper into our society.
To gain an asymmetrical advantage, athletes are prone to cheating by taking performance enhancing drugs. Much is at stake – millions of dollars in revenue for years versus the small chance of getting caught. Either the penalty associated with the use of drugs should be increased significantly, ie a lifelong ban so that very few people take the risk, or regulated use of performance-enhancing drugs should be allowed.
But would a biotechnological sporting achievement evoke the same level of awe and admiration?