Dying to win: Drugs in sport and competition
Athletes at all levels are exposed to the pressures to win and achieve excellence in the sporting world. These pressures can take a negative toll on athletes, driving them towards the use of performance-enhancing drugs (Simon, 2007). Since the 1960’s when doping regulations came into practice, drugs and sports has become a hot topic of moral and ethical debate on whether drugs should or should not be taken by athletes to enhance performance despite performance-enhancing drugs having been around since the era of the roman gladiators (Waddington & Smith, 2008). It is important to understand the view of sport in society and how this reflects ethics and morals examining the two conflicting side of the performance enhancing drugs issue. These two sides will be used in discussing the idea of creating good competition that they both support. Finally, I will discuss a personal take on the issue and what implications may arise from this in coaching situations. Before this however, we need to create an understanding of what a performance-enhancing drug is. The Words Anti Doping Agency (WADA) is the agency responsible for determining what substance and methods are performance enhancing and illegal to be used by athletes in or in and out of competition (Smith & Waddington, 2008). Defining what a prohibited performance-enhancing drug is difficult given that some substances are able to be produced naturally in the body or are necessary as treatments for heath problems (Simon, 2007). WADA every year produces the prohibited list, defining all the substances and methods that are banned for use by athletes because of their performance enhancing properties (World Anti Doping Agency [WADA], 2011). The International Olympic Committee (IOC) first published a prohibited substances list in 1963. However, some substances must be treated on a case-by-case basis as the individual sport governing bodies decide which specific drugs are to be banned in their sport. Simon (2007) states how there are three main criteria to determine if a drug has been taken illegally. First, if the athlete did not think the substance would improve their performance, they would not of taken it. Second if the substance would cause significant harm to the athlete. Finally, if the amount taken is not prescribed to relieve illness. Examples of these substances are anabolic steroids, beta-blockers and stimulants. There are also three methods that the list covers, blood doping through transfusion, genetic doping or tampering with a sample (WADA, 2011). As critical theory and functionalism state, sport is a reflection of society and can also be a tool for changing the way individuals view the world (Coakley, Hallinan, Jackson & Mewett, 2009). Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics constructed two main ways to view sport; the temple and the fair. The temple is a view that reflects the sacredness of sport and the Olympic ideals that were reflected in the ancient Olympic games (Martinkova, 2006). De Coubertin described how the temple is focused on the all round development of athletes as they strive to improve more personal aspects of their personal development and performance as opposed to being driven to always be better then the competition (Martinkova, 2006). This reflects the ideal of sport as a valued human practice to bring society together through the love and joy found in sport (Arnold, 1997). On the opposite side, he fair is a reflection of sport being an institution in society where the emphasis is placed on the pursuit of excellence (Arnold, 1997). This view on sport can be seen to be an influencing factor in the use of performance-enhancing drugs as athletes are under the pressure to always achieve excellence from themselves, coaches, media or sponsors (Coakley, 2004). Te use of performance enhancing drugs is not a new phenomenon in sport however, it has only been until recently that they have become so...
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