Legalize Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Sports
The most commonly discussed issue in sports of the 21st century is the use of performance enhancing drugs by professional athletes. Over the past four years, it has been nearly impossible to turn on the television without hearing something about athletes and these drugs. From former National League MVP Third Baseman Ken Caminiti's admission of steroid use in an issue of Sports Illustrated (Verducci, 2004) to 2006 Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis being stripped of title due to a failed doping test (Blue, 2006) virtually every sport is involved. Are performance enhancing drugs a substance that threatens the very existence of professional sports, or are they the future? Perhaps the issue with steroids is nothing more than a classic example of man being afraid of science. Are performance enhancing drugs an unfair advantage, or simply improved performance through better technology? When logically thought through, it becomes clear that we should change our policies and allow regulated use of performance enhancing drugs in sports leagues. The reason that sports leagues should reconsider their position on drugs is that large numbers of athletes continue to use them despite their illegality, statistical evidence proves that the drugs are effective, and under the supervision of a physician performance enhancing drugs can be used safely. Former American League Baseball MVP, Jose Canseco who became so knowledgeable about steroids that other baseball players referred to him as The Chemist' (Canseco, 2005), said the following about steroid use. We're talking about the future here. I have no doubt whatsoever that intelligent, informed use of steroids, combined with human growth hormone, will one day be so accepted that everybody will be doing it. Steroid use will be more common that Botox is now. Every baseball player and pro athlete will be using at least low levels of steroids. As a result, baseball and other sports will be more exciting and entertaining. Human life will be improved, too. We will live longer and better. (Canseco, 2005, p. 2) However when it comes to performance enhancing drugs, they are not only speaking of the future, but the past as well. Most media reports would lead the public to believe that they have only become so popular within the last 20 years. The truth of the matter is that there are recorded cases of doping "as early as the 8th century BC, when the Ancient Greek Olympians ate sheep's testicles; today we would recognize these as a source of testosterone." (Wikipedia, 2006, p. 2) Over 2500 years later, Hall of Fame pitcher James Pud' Galvin admitted in an 1889 Washington Post report that he had taken testosterone that had been extracted from animal testicles. Some researchers even suggest that baseball's original homerun king Babe Ruth, may have experimented with a similar elixir. (ESPN.com, 2006) These primitive attempts at boosting testosterone were the precursor to today's anabolic steroids which are a synthetic form of testosterone. (Jarvi, 2004) Although anabolic steroids may be the best known performance enhancer, other types of drugs have been in use for many decades. In his bestselling 1970 book Ball Four, former major league pitcher Jim Bouton admitted that he and many other major leaguers were taking amphetamine pills known as greenies,' which increase energy and endurance. In a 2005 interview with ESPN.com, Bouton reiterated these sentiments, "In the 1970s, half of the guys in the big leagues were taking greenies, and if we had steroids, we would have taken those, too." (ESPN.com, 2005, p.2) The future of doping lies in complicated medical procedures such as blood doping which increases the oxygen-carrying carrying capacity of blood and gene doping which changes an athlete's body at the cellular level. (King, 2006) Gene doping is currently rare due to its expense and complexity (King, 2006), however, as with all new technology it will become...
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