Drugs in sport debate: Opposer’s closing statement

by John William Devine

I have advanced two main lines of argument in favour of a ban on doping:
1. Doping may preclude the display of certain excellences that we value
in sport, 2. Even where doping does not preclude the display of
relevant excellences, it may disrupt the balance of excellences in a
sport. 

Neither of these arguments provides a 'once and for all'
justification of a ban. The excellences we wish to encourage in a sport
may change over time, as too may the balance of excellences. However,
doping poses a serious threat to sport understood as a contest to
display and test human excellences of body, mind and will.

Even
if these concerns about doping are well-founded, is it possible to
effectively police a ban? Julian rightly worries about the prevalence of
cheating by doping. His response to this problem is to reduce the
possibility of cheating by relaxing the ban on doping. I have argued
that this approach threatens to undermine the purpose of sport.

Rather
than remove the ban, we need to launch a two-pronged assault on
cheating by doping. Firstly, we need to redouble our efforts in drug
testing, both in terms of implementing more extensive drug testing
programmes and expanding research into testing methods so that testers
can keep pace with the drugs cheats.

Secondly, we need to
inculcate in athletes from an early age the virtue of sportsmanship. The
appropriate response to cheating is not to capitulate by changing
sport. Rather, it is to establish a culture of sportsmanship which
encourages competitors to play with a commitment to respecting the
intrinsic purposes of their sport

Is sportsmanship too much to
expect of athletes at the highest level? Julian's diagnosis of the
doping 'game' would suggest that it is. The public outcry following Bloodgate
and the hand
of Henry
incidents indicate that the public do in fact expect
athletes at the highest level to play true. Practices like batsmen in
cricket walking before the umpire has given them out and golfers and
snooker players calling fouls on themselves demonstrate that, not only
do we actually expect sportspeople to play true, in certain sports there
are established practices of competitors routinely curtailing their own
narrow self-interest despite all the pressures that Julian describes.

To
win the fight against doping we need a change in the culture, not in
the nature, of sport. In the final analysis, the supreme sportsperson
must display not only excellences of body, mind and will but also
excellence of character. 

[Don't forget to vote in the debate. Voting closes on 9th July]

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