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Performance Enhancing Substances
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There is a long history of drug use in sport. Data suggests that if today’s drugs were available in the past, athletes would have used them just as frequently as athletes do today.

  • Over commitment is similar to the distance runner that continues to train despite an injury or a gymnast that restricts calories to a dangerous degree to stay thin, playing through the pain and so on.
  • Users and abusers are often the most dedicated.
  • Many athletes see the use of drugs as a noble act of commitment and dedication. Spectators see drugs as deviant but pay to watch athletes that are “super-human”. These athletes may only be this way because of performance-enhancing substances.
  • As long as some athletes are willing to take performance-enhancing substances to gain a competitive edge, others will conclude that it is acceptable and even necessary to do the same.
  • IOC definition of doping- the administration of or use by a competing athlete of any substance foreign to the body or any physiological substance taken in abnormal quantity or taken by an abnormal route of entry into the body with the sole intention of increasing in an artificial and unfair manner his/her performance in competition. When necessity demands medical treatment with any substance that, because of its nature, dosage, or application, is able to boost the athlete’s performance in competition in an artificial and unfair manner, this to is regarded as IOC doping.
  • Numerous discrepancies of bolded words. Megadoses of vitamins are not banned but small doses of decongestants are. Natural hormones are banned, but “foreign” substances such as ibuprofen and aspirin are not.
  • Every professional sport league has its own policy, and they all differ in terms of banned substances and testing procedures. The NCAA has its own procedures and banned substance so do thousands of high schools.
  • Ethicality of team doctors injecting pain killers comes into question. Anti-inflammatory drugs used to continue training. Pregame IV drips to prevent dehydration.
  • Endless game of hide and seek. New and different chemical and “natural” substances are developed by scientists.
  • By the time researchers have good information on a substance, many athletes have moved onto the next one. Athletes learn faster in the locker room than scientists do in the lab.
  • Messages of harm and even death do not scare athletes who have dedicated numerous years to the sport. Being an athletes means that you take risks and sometimes suffer in the process.
  • Is it fair to control athletes in ways that others are not controlled?

Why do athletes continue to look to performance-enhancing substance?

  • Visibility and availability are greater today than ever before.
  • Marketed towards baby boomers however, the health “benefits” appeal to athletes as well
  • Fascination with technology and how it can be used to push human limits. Coupled with the sport ethic, this is very dangerous.
  • The body as a malleable tool that serves the mind. Athletes are supposed to used their minds and ignore the pain of the body.
  • Growing emphasis on self-medication.
  • Gender relations-men seek to reaffirm masculinity (male strength and power) and women seek to reaffirm (lose weight, stay slim) or challenge (female strength and power) femininity. Both men and women are likely to define performance-enhancing substances as valuable in the quests to preserve or challenge prevailing gender ideology.
  • Encouragement of overconformity to the sport ethic
  • Organizations, coaches, parents, spectators, administrators, etc.
  • Performance of athletes is closely monitored within the social structure of elite sport.
  • The combination of the desire to control one’s body, the need to meet expectations for improving performance, and the existence of potential guilt over letting teammates and fans down is a powerful incentive to do whatever it takes to remain an elite athlete.

Drug Testing

Cons - ineffective because athletes are ahead of the game (masking substances and moving on to new ones), violation of rights and privacy, expensive and drain resources that could be used for education, ineffective for natural substances, provides incentive for genetic engineering

Pros - needed to protect the health of athletes, needed to guarantee a level playing field for all athletes, skill and talent rather than artificial performance, legally justified because the actions affect others, drug use is illegal and must be controlled just as other criminal acts, must be expanded to anticipate genetic engineering.

Political and economic interests can cloud the validity and reliability of testing procedures

Most testing is done by sport organizations that have some vested interests in test results. There may be some manipulation of test results.

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