Drugs in sport debate: Proposer’s response to comments

by Julian Savulescu

two early comments on the online debate website raise concerns about allowing performance enhancing drugs in sport:

raising the standard

Maria – 14 Jun 10

One argument against Savulescu's point that controlled access is better than a ban is that this simply does not solve the problem – one then has to control whether sportspeople use drugs and methods that are beyond the scope of what is then made legal. And the logic of competition might well drive them into even more dangerous practices than what is already done if what is already done is made legal. So the same problem about controllability and the fair ones being disadvantaged just returns – but at a higher level, which is worse for everyone. What about sportspeople who cannot use doping for medical reasons in an environment where everyone dopes?

Should performance drugs be allowed in sports

Kunwar Pal Singh – 14 Jun 10

Sports is about professional prowess and determination and sportsmanship is about independent act and not dependent act. Any artificial means would kill the very element of dexterity sportsmen develop after persistent efforts. Man has an inbuilt battery whose longevity can be stretched by rigorous practice. Opting for performance drugs is like opting for outside batteries for short or particular duration. I believe so far research is not clear on after effects of such drugs on individual but I am certain that research with positive reports would prove diabolical later.

Response to Maria: the problem will not be eradicated but it will be reduced. Caffeine used to be banned and a number of athletes had medals  stripped. It is not banned so we do not have to waste resources  trying to test for it. The same could be done for EPO and blood  doping. It is true that if you had a safe steroid, some athletes  would take an even stronger unsafe one. But by creating an open  market to compete with the black market, you open the possibility of narrowing the advantage gap. The difference between safe steroid and unsafe steroid may be less than the difference between nothing and  current steroids. There would be a commercial drive to produce safe  enhancers that enable honest athletes to compete. As for people with medical conditions, they are already prevented from competing already.

Response to Kunwar: This is plainly false: caffeine, creatine, hypoxic air chambers, IV  nutrition and hydration are all performance enhancing, permitted and do not appear to be corrupting the spirit of sport. Modern running  shoes provide an advantage that is carefully regulated. Sport  inherently involves performance enhancement. The question is not whether but which?

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