If You Cant Beat Em’, Join Em’ : Regulation of Performance Enhancing Drugs

Today in sports we reject the use of performance-enhancing drugs, yet most professional athletes have used them at some point in their career. In the article by Dimeo, he mentions that in the 1930’ s and 40’s the use of amphetamines were common among professional athletes until steroids were developed. The plus side of steroids were that they did not have to be taken as a “pick me up” during the race or event, but taken prior and aided in recovery and ability to train for longer periods of time. In reading these articles it seems that this inherent struggle to eliminate the use of performance enhancing drugs is more recent than I may have guessed. Athletes have been testing out ways to enhance performance artificially since the late 1800’s. In Dimeo’s article it is also mentioned that doctors had not mentioned any major side effects of the drugs, when used in medical dosage. It then goes on to mention that athletes have a tendency to consume more that the prescribed dosage and there were a number of athletes mentioned whose deaths were overlook despite the cause being the performance enhancing drug. Is this possible that performance-enhancing drugs could ever be regulated, not banned? If small doses of a substance render minimal negative side affects, then would regulation of the all performance enhancement drugs become acceptable?

There is an obvious history of record breaking in sports back when drug use was unregulated and not seen as an issue. Why is it that when someone breaks a record and has used PED’s they are stripped of their title, when some records that were made or broken from 1930-1960’s may have been done using PED’s also? We will never know who set records on PED’s because there was no record kept regarding who had taken the drugs. Is this unfair? There is a saying “If you can’t beat em’ join em’”. What if there was a regulation on such drugs; a common ground in which we may allow some forms of performance enhancement? I do not believe that PED’s will ever cease to be used. As long as there is a desire to become better, stronger, faster, etc., there will be a need/want for PED’s. In class we had briefly mentioned allowing a hematocrit level of 50, which is safe hematocrit level, and there are no questions as to how you achieved this hematocrit level. Our society is fighting an up hill battle against these drugs, so I believe that compromise could be the answer.

Is the use of PED’s fair or ethical? In Gardner’s article “on performance-enhancing substances and the unfair advantage argument”, he states that

“What determines acceptability is not whether an athlete has an advantage or whether the advantage itself seems unfair but our ethical evaluation of the way in which the advantage is required.”

Another suggestion by Gardner was controlling the use of PED’s by making them equally available to all athletes. This could make a more equal playing field. There are so many different ways to lead to one goal. In the instance of increasing your hematocrit level there are two methods, one of which is illegal. What if an athlete is unable to train in the altitude and his opponent trains in the altitude all the time, is that fair? Would it be fair if he were allowed to take the drug as opposed to the altitude training? I think that taking a PED that has a regulated dose may be appropriate. Both athletes train a certain way based on their available circumstances, and their desire to win. All professional athletes have the desire to win; so allowing them to improve their physical ability through PED’s may be a viable option. There is also the question to whether the substance aids in improving performance by use of a shortcut. Whereas with steroids the athlete still must put in the work to see the results, other PED’s improve an athlete’s ability without the accompaniment of hard work by the athlete. Considering how the improvement in performance was acquired should play an important role in the possible regulation of PED’s for use in sport.

In my previous post I was against the use of PED’s stating that it messed with the free will of athletes who were non-users. Reading further into the controversy I have a better understanding of PED’s role in sport. I believe that there is too much use of PED’s occurring to be able to ban use forever. Eventually there will be rules and they will be regulated. I would never consider the use of PED’s myself, but I am also not a professional athlete who wants to succeed and perform to the best of their ability.  I believe that the regulation of certain substances may be the answer. Right now the focus should be on finding a way to even the playing field with the use of PED’s. Can this be done? Will there ever be a common ground? I don’t know.

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