Performance Enhancing Drugs and Ethics in Sport

The use of performance enhancement drugs in sports has been studied by scientists for several decades to evaluate their implications and determine why some athletes use them while others avoid them altogether. Performance enhancing drugs are divided into several groups based on their effects on the body. These groups include stimulants, human growth hormones, anabolic steroids, supplements, and diuretics (Khing 34).

Proponents argue that they are an important part of sports and should be embraced in the same way technology has and their health effects have been exaggerated to discourage their use. They also argue that the decision to use drugs or not should be made by the athlete and not governments and governing bodies. On the other hand, opponents argue that performance-enhancing drugs have severe side effects, give certain athletes unfair competitive advantage over others, and diminish the achievements of athletes who compete naturally without any enhancers.

Doping (the use of performance-enhancing drugs) should continue to be illegal because drugs have severe health and ethical effects. The health effects of drugs are the main reason why governments and sports governing bodies warn athletes from using them. Examples of these health effects in women include cessation of breast development, abnormal menstrual cycles, deepening of the voice, and growth of hair on the face and stomach (Khing 46).

In men, gender specific effects include impotence, low sperm production, and development of breast tissue. Other effects that are not gender specific include heart attacks, strokes, anemia, thyroid problems, blood cancers, hypertension, pulmonary embolism, high blood pressure, diabetes, nervousness, dizziness and fainting, dehydration, and loss of coordination and balance among others (McNamee and Morgan 52). The effects observed depend on the type of drug used by an athlete. PEDs are harmful because they affect the wellbeing of athletes and their families. Proponents argue that the decision to use or not to use drugs should be left to the athlete. However, this argument is wrong because it is unethical to let athletes make such critical decisions that have severe health implications and it would lead to misuse (Robinson 44).

The use of drugs in sports is unfair and unethical because it gives athletes who dope unfair advantages over athletes who stay clean (Robinson 51). Historically, athletes who use drugs have shown superior performance and have won many medals and set new world records. In that regard, athletes who stay clean have remained in obscurity because they cannot compete effectively under natural conditions. On the other hand, PEDs are illegal in all sports.

Therefore, using them is cheating and should lead to the disqualification of athletes who participate in the illegal activity (McNamee and Morgan 59). Proponents argue that allowing athletes to use PEDs will level the playing ground because of the genetic inequalities and natural limitations observed in athletes (Waddington and Smith 48). They further argue that nature is unfair and therefore, there is need to find a method to enable athletes compete on a level ground and promote equality. This argument is wrong because allowing the use of drugs will promote inequality and unfairness. Many athletes are strong opponents of doping and compelling them to participate is unethical.

The health effects are enough to deter them from engaging in the practice. Athletes should use their natural potential, aptitudes, and hard work to achieve their goals without the aid of artificial performance enhancers. Objections to doping are based on the spirit of sports that promotes conducting competitions fairly and letting the athletes’ skills, endurance, talents, and will determine the outcomes (McNamee and Morgan 104). Athletes should use natural conditions to train and condition their bodies for high performance. On the other hand, performance-enhancing drugs are taken by athletes to get unfair advantages over others. They do not use them to compensate for their genetic inequalities as presented by proponents (McNamee and Morgan 106).

The use of PEDs violates and diminishes the spirit of sports and sends the wrong signals to young people and children who would like to pursue sports as their career (Waddington and Smith 36). The spirit of sport is fair competition and is promoted by allowing athletes to rely on their aptitudes and skills only. Hard work is an important aspect of sports that determines the level of skills, endurance, and prowess that an athlete attains (Waddington and Smith 39).

This allows athletes to use their time effectively and avoid shortcuts that are pursued mainly through doping. Many young people who are interested in pursuing sports as a career receive the wrong message when reports of athletes winning sports contests due to doping emerge (Osei-Hwere et al. 1). For instance, Lance Armstrong won many cycling contests because he was using performance-enhancing drugs and went unnoticed for a long time. His accomplishments were watered down after he confessed to using drugs in contests that involved new world records. He lost seven trophies that he had won and was banned for life (Osei-Hwere et al. 1).

The incident also affected Armstrong’s life significantly because he also resigned from the leadership of his foundation. The consequences of using illegal drugs do not only affect the health of athletes but also their lives and reputations (Robinson 71).

Research has shown that many athletes use drugs because of certain social forces that originate from the influence of teammates (Murray, van de Rijt and Shandra 1). The studies have shown that athletes who do not use drugs are more likely to start using when they transfer to teams with widespread drug use than when they transfer to teams that do not condone the illegal practice. The use of drugs by teammates and the influence of environment are key factors that lead to doping by many athletes (Murray, van de Rijt and Shandra 1).

Some athletes start doping after experiencing the high performance of their teammates and friends who use them. Despite the existence of such arguments and findings, drug use should not be blamed on environment and social pressure. Athletes should be responsible for their actions because the effects of doping do not affect teams in the same way they affect athletes (Robinson 73).

In conclusion, the use of performance-enhancing drugs has been an issue in sports for several decades. It is unethical and illegal because it gives unfair advantages to some athletes, has severe health implications that affect the welfare of athletes and their families, diminishes the spirit of sports, and sends the wrong message to young people who wish to pursue sports as a career. Efforts to curb drug use in sports should be strengthen and athletes who engage in the illegal practice should be punished accordingly.

Works Cited

Khing, Tony. Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Sports. New York: ABDO Publishing Company, 2014. Google Scholar. Web.

McNamee, Mike, and William Morgan. Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Sport. New York: Routledge, 2015. Google Scholar. Web.

Murray, Joshua, Arnout van de Rijt, and John Shandra. “Why They Juice: The Role of Social Forces in Performance Enhancing Drug Use by Professional Athletes.” Sociological Focus, 46.4 (2013): 281-294. ProQuest. Web.

Osei-Hwere, Enyonam, et al. “Ethical Implications of Lance Armstrong’s Performance-Enhancing Drug Case.” Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues 17.1 (2014): 1-13. ProQuest. Web.

Robinson, Tom. Performance-Enhancing Drugs. New York: ABDO, 2010. Google Scholar. Web.

Waddington, Ivan, and Andy Smith. Sport, Health and Drugs: A Crucial Sociological Perspective. New York: Routledge, 2013. Google Scholar. Web.

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