Performance Enhancing Drugs Should Be Legalized In Sports
The use of performance-enhancing drugs, or doping, is hardly news. It has certainly occurred since the first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. Ancient Olympic champions used hallucinogens and stimulants, as well as herb mixtures in order to improve their fights and stave off fatigue and injuries during their game battles. But unlike before when the use of drugs was perfectly acceptable, it has now been banned in all sports competitions. The reasons for the ban are mainly due to the alleged adverse health effects of the use of them and the belief that it creates inequality and unfair opportunities for players.
Yet, despite being banned in sports, the use of illegal substances is still widespread and growing worldwide. Today, it is not only common among professional athletes, like Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez, but also seen to be rife in schools and gyms across the U.S. Many people, particularly who are in the sports field, are now relying on performances-enhancing drugs to better their performance, improve their bodies, and keep their careers going. Advocates of PEDs argue that rather than banning, we should regulate the use of them. And here are the reasons why:
- If PEDS Are Regulated, They Will Be Safer.
One of the very reasons why performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids, stimulants, erythropoietin, and creatine, are banned in sports is because they are believed to cause long-term health effects. While it’s true that these drugs have potential side effects, they may only occur if taken improperly or excessively. Most athletes, who take PEDs, suffer adverse side effects because they use them with little knowledge and guide from their doctors. Remember that just like other drugs, there is a correct dosage of how much PEDs should be taken by every individual. In the book entitled, Performance-Enhancing Drugs, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) states that PEDs, such as creatine and ephedra, are safe when used within the recommended dosage.
Performance-enhancing drugs have tremendous benefits – that’s why they are created and made available in the market. However, the current ban for using these substances prevents athletes from realizing those benefits; worse, it restricts them from accessing the help and supervision they need. Without proper regulation, athletes will never know exactly how these substances work and affect their bodies. Most people don’t know that most of the dangers that come from these substances lie in not knowing the safe dosage and what they do to your body. Allowing performance-enhancing drugs in sports would make our athletes safer because it will make them aware of what amounts of dosage provide maximum benefits and harmful effects. Proper regulation will also allow athletes to go and seek for qualified physicians than rely to backroom hucksters with no medical background. And if legal, more research can be done to make PEDs a lot safer and effective.
- Peds Make The Games More Interesting And Entertaining.
Another reason why it makes sense to allow the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is because they make the game more exciting. Let’s be honest, sports fans! Who wouldn’t want to see their team’s best player throwing a fastball over 100mph or another guy equaling or breaking a national record?
Unlike television shows or movies, sports competitions become more entertaining when you see people perform at the extreme edge of what humans are capable of. We, the sports fans, don’t want to see normal things, hear normal stories, or witness normal events – we want to watch extraordinary athletes do extraordinary physical feats because that what makes us entertained. In fact, people don’t really care about if athletes use PEDs or not; people don’t care about how athletes do the impossible; people don’t care about how they accomplish those efforts of greatness. All they want is to see them do those things, if possible, over and over again.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson once wrote “…we, the paying customers, don’t want normal-size athletes with normal abilities. We want to see supermen and superwomen performing super feats, and we’re willing to pay these gladiators a fortune.”
- It Would Be Beneficial To The Business.
As what Robinson said, people are willing to pay good money just to see the best athletes play. No matter how expensive the tickets get and how tough the economy becomes, people will continue to watch sports because they are yearning to see something unusual. And because of performance-enhancing drugs, those yearnings are achieved. PEDs make the players stronger, faster, and better in their performance. They make the games worth watching.
Remember the 1998 baseball season when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa raced towards the 61 home runs? According to reports, it was one of the greatest seasons ever in the history of baseball. In fact, it is believed to be the game that saved the America’s favorite pastime.
Now, we all know that both players used PEDs in order to achieve those performances. But people didn’t care. In fact, people continue to talk about it to this day and still feel the excitement of what happened more than 15 years ago. Just like what Prof. Max Mehlman said on an article in cleveland.com, “There is nothing fundamentally wrong or ethically objectionable to PEDs.” In fact, it makes the competition more fun. And this benefits all the involved – the fans, the athletes, and the sports industry.
- Banning The Use Of Peds Is A Waste Of Time And Money.
One of the biggest reasons why PEDs should finally be allowed in sports is because the government is already wasting enormous amount of money and time on sports testing that doesn’t even work. The cost of a basic steroid test is $200 per individual. Multiply this by the number of athletes we have in the U.S. plus the number of times a player undergoes testing each year, and the government is looking at spending millions of dollars per year on drug testing alone. What’s worse is that these tests couldn’t even catch doping athletes. Lance Armstrong, who was an avid PEDs user, never tested positive for doping but rather was only caught or admitted using illegal substances. In 2012 Olympic Games, only one out of 6,000 players was tested positive for drug use.
The thing is athletes are not stupid. They know how to use various techniques in order to avoid detection. And no matter what the government does to effectively catch users (even spend billions of dollars in advance research), athletes will always find a way to evade it. So it’s time for the government to allow athletes use PEDs. It would save the country billions of dollars. And we could use the money to fund important programs, such as helping the poor, improving our school systems, paying off our debts, and making the sports competitions a lot safer.
- The Use Of Drugs In Sports Is Not Unfair; In Fact, It Promotes Equality.
In terms of sports, the perception that everyone has the same chance at winning is totally ridiculous. The playing field isn’t level, it has never been. Athletes in developed communities have a greater advantage over athletes in less developed communities because they have more funding, sports institutions, and easy access to healthcare. Is that fair?
And let’s not forget that there are some people who are born with genetic advantages. Take for instance Eero Mantyranta, a Finish skier and a multiple Olympic champion. In 1960-1972 Winter Olympics, Mantyranta won seven medals in total, making him one of the best in the field of skiing. But later, scientists found he had a gene mutation – that he naturally had more red blood cells than others, which measured at up to 65 percent above the average. Imagine that? Mantyranta’s niece and nephew, Elli and Pertti, have also found to have gene mutation, which gave them an advantage to win in relays at Olympics.
The ability to perform well in competition is connected with the ability of the body to deliver oxygen to muscles. As we know, oxygen is carried by red bloods cells. Therefore, the more red blood cells the body has, the more oxygen is delivered to muscles. This in turn, improves an athlete’s performance.
Well, there are various legal ways in order to improve your red blood cell count, such as undergoing blood transfusion and surgery, exercising, eating iron-rich food, and taking vitamins and iron-rich supplements. But all these sometimes produce low results and sometimes don’t work well, so athletes turn to other options, such as doping, to increase their red blood cell production easily. But as well all know, doping is illegal. Lawmakers and sports organizers make doping illegal because they think it makes the playing field uneven. But some athletes have high red blood cells by luck. Some competitors can afford to buy training equipment. Is that fair? Of course, it is not. Therefore, it is nonsensical to say that using drugs in sports is unfair. By allowing athletes to take PEDs, we’re giving all athletes an equal playing field.
- It Would Reduce Crime.
Allowing the use of drugs in sports would reduce crime in the sense that less people would be breaking the law for taking them and less drug lords would be able to remain in business.
Illegal drug trade is highly profitable – the very reason why drug dealers are so motivated to keep distributing them in the market. The value of illegal drug trade around the globe is worth a fortune estimated at $322 billion a year, according to United Nations. And the value is continuously rising. Worse, more and more people are found to be involved in the distribution of these illegal substances. In a 2013 report from Australian Crime Commission (ACC), it was revealed that the use of performance-enhancing drugs has been widespread in professional sports. Even worse, it has been found that organized criminals are involved in distributing illegal substances not just to athletes, but even to their doctors and coaches.
If all countries would allow the use of PEDs in sports, it would substantially reduce the involvement of organized criminals in the doping market. If legal, athletes and sports staff will be able to easily purchase them from licensed distributors, which will eventually put the drug dealers out of business.
- Drugs Don’t Play As Big A Role In The Match As Many People Like To Think.
Contrary to popular belief, using performance-enhancing drugs doesn’t make you win. Sure, drugs can help you better your performance and improve your body, but using them doesn’t guarantee winning. Many sports rely on skills as well as physical ability. Even if you take higher dosages, if you don’t have the right skill or don’t train, you’re not going to be able to compete in battles. Have you already seen a fat, drunk truck driver dope and go win a car race?
One more thing is that performance-enhancing drugs were not made to work like a magic – that anyone who take them will surely become faster, better, and stronger. Every person is different, and reacts in a unique way to drugs. A drug that works for one person may not work for another. And when it works, it doesn’t mean it will work all the time.
Take for instance the British track sprinter, Dwain Chambers. We all know how great he was. After his first athletic success in 1994, Dwain started to collect medals and beat international records, which made him one of the fastest sprinters in his generation. But he eventually faced one the most difficult times in his life when he competed at a Commonwealth Games in 2002. He actually did well with wins in the preliminary rounds in his bid for 100m gold, but in the finals, he pulled up with cramps and finished last. He later admitted that one of the reasons his muscles cramped up was because of the side effects of steroids he was taking at that time. Occasionally, it worked for him, but there were also times that it worked against him. See? There’s no reason to ban drugs as drugs don’t make you a better athlete, hard work does.
- Banning Peds Doesn’t Make Sense.
One of the reasons why PEDs are banned in sports is due to the safety of athletes. Okay, assuming that PEDs are unhealthy, would it keep the players safe if they avoid taking them? Of course, not. We all know that many sports carry their own physical and health risks. Even while you’re just walking onto the playing field or standing at one side of it, you could still suffer serious consequences because there’s no such thing as “guaranteed safety” in life.
And there’s this fact that athletes do so many things that are bad for their health, such as smoking and alcohol drinking, so it doesn’t make sense to ban PEDs because of safety purposes.
One more thing is that I don’t understand why performance-enhancing drugs are such a big deal? We all know that all medicines have side effects. Painkillers, caffeine, and other substances that are used to treat ailments can be as harmful as steroids, cocaine, and heroin when abused, yet no one seem to care if you take too much of them. Even if you drink 10 cups of coffee in a day, no one would certainly care. So if painkillers and caffeine are legal, why PEDs are not?
- Athletes Are Going To Use Peds Regardless Of Rules.
In the book entitled Ethics of Performance Enhancement in Sport: Drugs and Gene Doping, the authors said, “It would be much easier to eliminate the anti-doping rules than to eliminate doping.” And that’s true. Whether it’s legal or not, people will continue to take performance-enhancing drugs. Even the top players in sports will keep on using them because that’s the easiest way to boost their confidence, improve their skills, and combat pain during game play.
The only way to fix this long-standing issue is to finally legalize them. After all, legalization would be beneficial, not only to the athletes, but to the entire nation. As mentioned, it could help the country save cost, help law officials reduce their burdens, help the sports industry improve revenue, make the sports fairer, and make the athletes a lot safer.
- My Body, My Choice.
And finally, we should legalize PEDs because all of us, including athletes, have the right to do what we want with our own body. People are not stupid; of course they know that drugs, if abused, can be dangerous in their health. But some people still choose to use them because they know that they can benefit from them. And even if drugs don’t provide any benefit, it’s still up to them to decide whether to take them or not because it’s their own body. Of course, it is understandable why the government enforce laws regarding the use of substances, especially if it harms others. There’s actually nothing wrong about that. However, taking drugs for personal use shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. It’s our right to do whatever we want with our own body. After all, isn’t this a free country?
As what the American journalist Radley Balko said, “…a free society isn’t really free at all if it doesn’t include the freedom to make what some may believe are bad decisions.”