The Doping Epidemic (In Sports)

When fans tuned into the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, they saw something that had never been seen before: a group of people marching under the Olympic flag instead of their country’s flag. Introduced as the OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia), some 170 athletes were the few who passed WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) doping tests, as many fellow Russians were banned after failing theirs. Taking away the Russian flag from the Olympics was one of many punishments, also including not playing the Russian National Anthem, or using Russian Uniforms. Through all this, questions were still unanswered as athletes everywhere had chances to taint their doping tests, and theories came out. Doping, and other PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) in sports should be banned and also tested at a higher rate as they give unfair chemical advantages to athletes, and also is morally wrong, doesn’t necessarily mean the athlete becomes stronger or better, and also can seriously harm athletes. 

From 1999-2005, American cyclist Lance Armstrong took not just the biking community, but the whole world of sport by storm, as he won 7 straight Tour De France’s. Through his racing career, Armstrong was accused of using PEDs, as most cyclists were. In 2012, Armstrong was convicted by the UCI and USADA of using PEDs, and was therefore stripped of all 7 titles. Coming in 2nd 3 times (’00, ’01, ’03), German cyclist Jan Ullrich was outraged. In an interview with Cycling News, he stated that, “It’s not helping anyone to lie”. Doping in sports is cheating plain and simple, no if, ands, or buts. As learned from a young age, cheating is wrong. However there are opinions like John Rawls’s reflective equilibrium, stating that if enough wrongdoing happens, it will become normal, becoming justified, proving that we need to stop doping now before it becomes worse. 

Although doping for the most part will increase an athletes ability, it sometimes may not. As explained by David Epstein in a TED talk, in 1936, Jesse Owens held the 100m sprint world record in a time of 10.20 seconds. Almost 80 years later, the now record holder, Usain Bolt, ran the race in 9.58. In sprinting terms, that minutes ahead. So how did Bolt demolish Owens’ record without doping? The answer is as simple as what they are running on. Owens ran his race on a hard asphalt surface, which took away energy and speed, while Bolt ran his on a special fabricated carpet to provide the fast time. This supports that doping may not be the most important variable. Doping may seem like the easy and fast way to get to the top, but that’s simply not true. Factors like equipment and training matter much more then drugs, according to Epstein, meaning there really is no point to doping. 

According to Sports Medicine Today, doping can change anything from your heart to your head. Some PEDs increase your heart rate, which although may help you compete at a higher level, create irregular heart rhythm and an elevated heart rate, which can like to a heart attack. Athletes who dope also risk hormonal effects, like infertility or cancer, showing that PEDs can give extremely serious results. The central nervous system may also break down, causing depression and strokes. With all of these factors combined, doping is flat out dangerous, which is yet another reason why all doping should be banned. 

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, laws including the legalization of PEDs in sports could actual decrease use, and these drugs would not violate the “spirit” of sport. To me, this makes no sense. If athletes have an easy way of improving their performance, why wouldn’t they? 

In this day and age, most professional sporting leagues have banned doping. For example, the MLB allows some PEDs like marijuana. On a moral level, because of more productive techniques and safety, doping needs to be banned and tested more regularly in all sporting leagues, from young to old, male and female, poor and rich. Although many facts are known about doping, some still need to be found. However, the situation is quite clear; PEDs are bad and must be prohibited. The point of sport is to showcase natural talent in a controlled setting, and giving PEDs to some, or even all athletes ruins that purpose.