Should Performance Enchancing Drugs Be Used In Sports
Should performance enhancing drugs (such as steroids) be accepted in sports?
Michael Lawrence Potter
UVO Corp Sample Paper
Michael Lawrence Potter is a freelance writer writing a sample paper on behalf of UVO Corp for the purposes of assessment. All correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael Lawrence Potter
This paper explores four published articles that explore the questions related to performance enhancement drugs in sports including their effects, their advantages, their disadvantages, their effect on the culture of competitive sports and whether or not they should be allowed.
Should performance enhancing drugs (such as steroids) be accepted in sports?
The nature of sport is anchored in two schools of thoughts. Recreation and competition. Competition by its very nature relies on a metaphorical upper hand being gained on your opponent either momentarily or permanently. This advantage has manifested in the forms of different techniques being introduced to the sport itself (such as the “slam dunk” shot in basketball or the “spin bowl” technique of bowling in cricket) or as part of the athlete’s preparation and training for the sport including different training techniques and diet.
As competitiveness has grown in sport, so to has the rise of pharmaceutical drugs and supplements in order to aid athletes in this regard. These substances in their various forms have found to improve the performance of athletes in their various sports exponentially but in most cases have sacrificed fair competition between athletes who do not wish to use and indulge in these substances and in some instances have led to health complications and death as a direct or indirect result of using these substances.
This question that this essay intends to answer is whether or not the use of performance enhancing drugs should be used in sports.
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Definition of Performance Enhancing Substance
With reference to Brazier Y (2016). Doping in sports: is it worth it?. Medical News Today 21 January 2016 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) the leading body in anti-doping rules and regulations for sports has defined performance enhancing drugs in the following categories “it enhances or could enhance sporting performance, It poses or could pose a health risk to the athlete, It violates the spirit of sports.” The WADA list is one that is updated annually. Performance enhancement drugs can be split into 6 classes recognised by the WADA. These six categories include stimulants ( which increase alertness and the ability to overcome fatigue), anabolic- androgen steroids ( allows athletes to train harder and increase muscle size), diuretics ( substances that eliminate excess fluids for the sole purpose of losing weight), narcotics ( to eliminate pain) and peptides (such as human growth hormones to increase blood flow for cardio vascular exercises and increase muscle growth).
The penalties for the breaching of these body’s rules may result in a 2-4 year ban from all forms of competition as well as a blanket ban for consistently offending countries such as Russia.
Positive and Negative Effects of these Performance Enhancing Substances
With further reference to Brazier Y (2016) each of these stimulants provide necessary advantages through their use however in contrast each have shown to provide contrasting negative and harmful side effects to the athletes who use them. Highly addictive stimulants such as amphetamines have shown to increase intensity of a session but have subsequently lead to athletes suffering with dehydration and reduced blood circulation, potential organ failure, sudden collapse, cardiac or respiratory arrest and death. While anabolic steroids have shown to provide a large advantage in gaining muscle mass it has also resulted in kidney damage and increased aggression.
The effects of anabolic steroids have also been found to have long lasting and disastrous effects even after the athlete has ceased taking the substance. With reference to Cherny JL, Lindemann K (2013) Fallen Sports Heroes, Media and Celebrity Culture: Chapter 9-Wrestling With Extremes: Steroids, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Chris Benoit the article explores the case of Chris Benoit, a professional wrestler who on the 22nd of June 2007 murdered his wife and young son before committing suicide. Benoit had been a top achieving athlete in his sport previously holding the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) World Heavy Weight title and being a main event performer known for his high impact moves and impressive physique- a physique that many of his peers and critics believed to be attributed to anabolic steroids. Upon Benoit’s autopsy following the incident it was found in a blood sample that his blood contained 207 micrograms of testosterone ( roughly 10 times the amount of a normal male’s). Although Benoit’s long history of concussions was a major attributing factor to these acts another attributing factor was directly correlated to this heightened testosterone level. upon investigation of his home Benoit was found to be in possession of prescribed testosterone boosters (the dose of which he was abusing) with the sole purpose of counteracting the negative affects anabolic steroids had on his body most prominently his sexual health. With reference Brazier Y (2016) an unnatural level of testosterone has been found to heighten one’s paranoia, irritability and in some cases can result in irrational and violent outbursts.
The Problem with Strict Liability
With reference to Savulescu J, Foddy B, Clayton M ( 2004) Why we should allow performance enhancing drugs in sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Volume 38 Issue 6 the essay advocates to allow for performance enhancement in sports based on the term of strict liability and its negative effect on the free will and civil liberties of the athletes concerned. Lord Coe a dual olympic champion was quoted as saying “The rule of strict liability—under which athletes have to be solely and legally responsible for what they consume—must remain supreme. We cannot, without blinding reason and cause, move one millimetre from strict liability—if we do, the battle to save sport is lost.”
The idea of strict liability denotes that an athlete must wholly and thoroughly responsible for the manner int which they intend to train and compete, whether that be through the use of performance enhancement substances or not.
The issue comes in that beyond the effect of the substances themselves the many athletes have no desire to bear the negative and harmful consequences of these substances in order to compete with their peers nor should their success be determined by their pharmaceutical choices. Furthermore enhancement substances also exist behind a pay wall for the incredibly privileged for example a performance enhancement known as Epogen, at the time of writing, is offered at an American Phramacy known as Walgreens for US$86 for 6000 international units (IU). The maintenance dose of EPO is typically 20 IU per kg body weight, once a week.30 An athlete who weighs 100 kg therefore needs 2000 IU a week, or 8600 IU a month. Epogen costs the athlete about US$122 a month. Therefore creating an onerous and discriminatory cost for non-doping athletes to compete with.
As a result of these financial and personal bias in order two retain fairness in sports performance enhancement substances should continue to banned and monitored under strict regulations. While athletes may carry their onus under strict liability, other athletes should not be financially and biologically forced to compete with other athletes.
Competition in sport is defined by gaining an upper hand over one’s opponents. Performance enhancement substances have been shown to have positive effects in this regard while also providing negative and in some cases as the Benoit tragedy horrifying effects on one’s health and the safety of others. Although the banning of these substances from sport is one that limits the autonomy of the athlete it is a necessary limitation to assure against unfair discrimination on the basis of finances and morals as well as keeping sports safe.
Brazier Y (2016). Doping in sports: is it worth it?. Medical News Today 21 January 2016.
Cherny JL, Lindemann K (2013) Fallen Sports Heroes, Media and Celebrity Culture: Chapter 9-Wrestling With Extremes: Steroids, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Chris Benoit, 107-118.
Goldberg L, Clarke Christine ( 2000) Performance enhancing drugs in sport. The Pharmaceutical Journal Vol 264 No 7083, 271-273
Savulescu J, Foddy B, Clayton M ( 2004) Why we should allow performance enhancing drugs in sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Volume 38 Issue 6