Is ‘Doping’ in Sports Really ‘Doping‘?
Doping has widely become known as the use of banned substances and practices by sports personnel particularly athletes in an attempt to improve sporting performances. No sensible fan of sport today denies the prevalence of drugs in virtually every major sport, yet none would argue they can ever be eliminated completely. Money alone would seem to guarantee that much. High profile athletes today are competing for high stakes, not just millions, but dozens of millions. The fear of losing everything career, opportunity, contracts, name, fame, and money is pushing more sportsmen all over the world to use performance enhancing drugs, mainly anabolic-androgenic steroids, to either gain a competitive advantage, or to simply keep pace with other athletes using performance enhancers. The primary reason why PED’s are outlawed in professional sports is that they give users a perceived unfair advantage over the rest of the field, while potentially putting their long-term health at risk if the drugs are used irresponsibly and without proper medical supervision. Various professional sports leagues have attempted to level the playing field by testing for drug use and suspending, banning, or fining those found guilty. It’s a noble effort, but is it working? Stiff punishments have done little to reduce the number of sportsmen caught doping every year. Cycling hero Lance Armstrong was recently implicated in a doping scandal that vacated his record 7 straight Tour de France titles. But as it turns out, the would be inheritors of all seven of the vacated titles have all been implicated in doping scandals themselves. Major League Baseball also hands down more and more suspensions each season to players caught using banned substances, and it’s ridiculously naive to think those players are the only ones guilty of doping. If the various governing bodies of sport really want to level the playing field, could it be time to head in the other direction and legalize performance enhancing drugs? While opponents of legalization argue that performance enhancing drugs should remain outlawed from sport to protect athletes from possible long-term health risks and to preserve the honor, integrity, and ethical aspects of sports. Proponents of PED legalization believe that the removal of doping controls would save money and resources, lead to less cheating, increase solidarity and respect between athletes, put more focus on sport and not on rules, all while making it safer for athletes who do decide to use PED’s responsibly.
The use of drugs and herbs to enhance performance in sporting events dates all the way back to antiquity. In Ancient Roman gladiator competitions “Chariot racers feed their horses substances such as hydromel ,an alcoholic beverage made from honey, to make them run faster and gladiators ingested hallucinogens and stimulants such as strychnine to stave off fatigue and injury and to improve the intensity of their fights” (Aziz). It wasn’t until the 1930’s when Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) were first isolated, identified and synthesized, initially they were exclusively used therapeutically in medicine to induce bone growth, stimulate appetite, induce male puberty, and treat chronic wasting conditions, such as cancer and AIDS. AAS use in sports began in October 1954 when John Ziegler, a doctor who treated American athletes, went to Vienna with the American weightlifting team. While there he met a Russian physician whom he repeatedly asked "What are you giving your boys?" the Russian said that his athletes were being given testosterone. Upon Returning to America, Ziegler tried low doses of testosterone on himself, and on two lifters. All gained more weight and strength than any training program would produce but there were adverse side-effects. Ziegler sought a drug without adverse side-effects and hit on an anabolic steroid, methandrostenolone...