Enhancing Sports

sports-150518_960_720Performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) have been  around the sporting world for a long period of time and within the past 2 decades have come to the headlines of the sporting world. There have been scandals in the baseball world, cycling, and the Olympics. PED’s have been banned by all major sports across the US in an attempt to keep a level playing field but many do slip through the cracks. Despite these efforts, professional athletes will do whatever they can to gain an edge over their competition. As adults, should they be given the freedom to do what they want to their body? The playing field has never been fully even throughout history and despite efforts to even it, does not seem like it will in the future.

PED’s have turned up in numerous sporting events across the world. Notable ones are the Olympics, Tour de France, and American professional sports. In the Olympics, as far back as 1976, teams were taking Steroids. The German swimming team was given anabolic steroids by the government. The 1988 Olympics was marred after Ben Johnson tested positive for anabolic steroids after breaking a world record in track. This trend has carried on to this year where last month it was announced that 31 athletes will be banned from the 2016 Olympics for testing positive for banned substances. Lance Armstrong shocked the nation when it was announced that he took steroids during his run of 7 consecutive Tour de France titles. The entire USPS cycling team was found to be in on this doping plan and all of them have since been banned from the sport. In American sports, baseball is notorious for PED’s especially in recent memory due to the “steroid era” that has just passed in the last 2 decades. In 2007 the 407 page findings of an independent investigation by Senator George Mitchell titled “The Mitchell Report” mentions the names of 89 players who allegedly used PED’s. PED’s are still prevalent in baseball today with the recent Biogenesis scandal resulting in 13 players receiving suspensions. The sport will remain far from clean. All of these PED scandals have happened on the biggest stages, many with big name athletes. With so many athletes willing to take the risk should we consider letting them takes the drugs?

Advocates for keeping sports clean of PED’s list 2 main points on why PED’s are unacceptable. They say that it is unfair and has health concerns. Those that are strongly against PED use are those that are clean and want to make sure that the game stays that way. They argue that PED’s will ruin the integrity of the game and feel cheated when others are able to outperform them with an unfair advantage.  It has been pointed out that if made legal, PED’s would change the sporting world into a science fair with all these athletes being lab mice. Sure there will be more action but in the sports with physical contact, it would result in more devastating blows leading to more serious injuries. Those opposing PED’s would argue that if legalized then it would begin to affect our youths. This is problematic since steroids are much more harmful to someone whose body is still in the development stages. PED’s would not and should not ever be legalized for those that are amateurs but there are certainly a percentage of those in high school and college that dope. If we allow PED’s, then we would be encouraging their use and at the same time encourage these people that are hurting their health.

There are several arguments for allowing PED’s in sports. These arguments are that PED’s will actually level the playing field, PED’s should be allowed because they cannot be entirely banned, and that the effects of PED’s will benefit the fans. Sports are naturally unfair even without the usage of PED’s. There will always be players having a genetic advantage over others whether it be being much taller in basketball, having superior bone structures and muscles to be a better suited runner, or in the case of skier Eero Maentyranta, having a genetic mutation allowing him to have more red blood cells than the normal human being. He went on to win 3 gold medals. PED’s should be regulated instead of banned as the negative side effects can be managed if properly monitored. Legalizing PED’s will encourage the drug industry to focus on developing safe drugs instead of having to focus on undetectable drugs that are more dangerous. Keep in mind that I am talking about PED’s not specifically anabolic steroids which do have harmful effects. The argument is for legalizing not all PED’s, just the ones that can be properly regulated, ones like anabolic steroids will still be banned and searched for. Sports are unsafe in general and PED’s have been known to be used for speeding up the recovery process. If properly regulated, it can be beneficial and be an asset to the sports. History has shown that there have been many other ways of gaining an edge in sports such as playing in segregated leagues in baseball or stadiums that give home teams a slight advantage. The richer countries and organizations will always have athletes that are equipped with better gear and better recovery methods. The playing field is already not level. PED’s are the newest way of getting ahead and if the idea of professional sports is to watch humans push their physical limits on the biggest stage with the best talent, wouldn’t PED’s help to improve this? As technology keeps growing, there are newer ways to heal faster and get stronger, are these not having the same effects on professional athletes? As long as professional sports remain so lucrative, athletes will do whatever they can to play at a high level and earn as much money as they can. If you could earn millions of dollars playing a sports but to do so need to risk taking PED’s, would you take the chance? It is a no brainer to many that the benefits outweigh the risks. As long as this is so, it will be impossible to ensure that any sports is fully clean of PED users. PED’s would arguably make sports more interesting.  Television ratings were at a high when the baseball world was following the homerun races of the 90’s and watching all of those record breaking achievements in the Olympics and other sports. Yes there are fans who would like to see a traditional low scoring gritty matches but we are increasingly becoming more interested in the high paced high scoring games. Fans want to see mind blowing feats of athleticism. Bigger hits on players in football, harder throwing in baseball, etc are all popularized and are what intrigue fans. Players improved through properly used PED’s will improve the fan base of sports.

Many of us are athletes, fans of sports, or know someone who is in sports whether it is amateur or professional. If PED’s do become legalized one day then it would affect our experience as fans or potential influences as amateur athletes. The problem people have with PED’s is the moral issue that it brings up. Do we keep our morals as they are and stick to the traditional mindset that PED’s are undoubtedly bad or do we alter our mindset to be open to the possibility that legalizing PED’s may not be such a bad choice. I am sure we can all relate that if the option comes up where we have the opportunity to make millions of dollars for ourselves and family at the risk of taking PED’s, many of us would take it. Athletes are adults and should be able to make these decisions for themselves  and we should be able to come to the decision that PED’s, if regulated, should be legal.

 

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