Should the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports Be Legalized

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  • Topic: Drugs in sport, Use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, Doping
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  • Published : March 15, 2011
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Should the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports be legalized? PRO (yes)| CON (no)|
Bengt Kayser, MD, PhD, Professor of Exercise Physiology, and Alexandre Mauron, PhD, Professor of Bioethics, both at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, along with Andy Miah, PhD, Reader in New Media and Bioethics at the School of Media, Language, and Music at the University of the West of Scotland, UK, in their Dec. 2005The Lancet article "Viewpoint: Legalisation of Performance-Enhancing Drugs," wrote:"Antidoping policies exist, in theory, to encourage fair play. However, we believe they are unfounded, dangerous, and excessively costly...

We believe that rather than drive doping underground, use of drugs should be permitted under medical supervision.

Legalisation of the use of drugs in sport might even have some advantages. The boundary between the therapeutic and ergogenic - ie, performance enhancing - use of drugs is blurred at present and poses difficult questions for the controlling bodies of antidoping practice and for sports doctors. The antidoping rules often lead to complicated and costly administrative and medical follow-up to ascertain whether drugs taken by athletes are legitimate therapeutic agents or illicit....Furthermore, legalisation of doping, we believe, would encourage more sensible, informed use of drugs in amateur sport, leading to an overall decline in the rate of health problems associated with doping. Finally, by allowing medically supervised doping, the drugs used could be assessed for a clearer view of what is dangerous and what is not...Acknowledging the importance of rules in sports, which might include the prohibition of doping, is, in itself, not problematic. However, a problem arises when the application of these rules is beset with diminishing returns: escalating costs and questionable effectiveness." Dec. 2005 - Bengt Kayser, MD, PhD 

Alexandre Mauron, PhD 
Andy Miah, PhD Bennett Foddy, DPhil, Harold T. Shapiro Postdoctoral Fellowship in Bioethics at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University, and Julian Savulescu, PhD, Professor and Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, in their June 2007 Principle of Health Care Ethics article "Ethics of Performance Enhancement in Sport: Drugs and Gene Doping," wrote:"It would be much easier to eliminate the anti-doping rules than to eliminate doping. The current policy against doping has proved expensive and difficult to police. In the near future it may become impossible to police....Because doping is illegal, the pressure is to make performance enhancers undetectable, rather than safe. Performance enhancers are produced or bought on the black market and administered in a clandestine, uncontrolled way with no monitoring of the athlete’s health. Allowing the use of performance enhancers would make sport safer as there would be less pressure on athletes to take unsafe enhancers and a pressure to develop new safe performance enhancers and to make existing enhancers more effective at safe dosages...The removal of doping controls would have major benefits: less cheating, increased solidarity and respect between athletes, more focus on sport and not on rules.

[I]n order to justify the current doping controls, these arguments have to justify the ban’s yearly multi-million dollar cost, and the intangible costs, and they must outweigh the benefits we would get if we abolished doping controls. We should focus on health of athletes, not performance enhancement.

Rather than attempting to detect undetectable enhancers, we should spend our limited resources on evaluating health and fitness to compete. There are good reasons to allow performance enhancement, to make sport fairer (in the sense that the rules are equally applied) and to narrow the gap between the cheaters and the honest athletes. It would provide a better spectacle, be safer and less coercive." June 2007 - Bennett Foddy, DPhil ...
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