With the advancement of science and technology, we are witnessing current innovations and inventions that greatly affect human lives. In the field of medicine, one bold reality is the birth of performance enhancing drugs. Performance enhancing drugs are used to increase the level of performance among athletes. These drugs also lessen the effects of fatigue and also make an athlete’s body appear better. The birth of performance enhancing drugs is an answer to people’s craving. People are always in pursuit of something that would make them popular or someone that many desire to be.
No person wants to be the last, everyone wants to be the first. Competition is always in the states of affairs of people and they cannot do away with it. People thrive in competitions. The term “doping” probably comes from the Afrikaans word “dop,” a concoction made from grape leaves that Zulu warriors drank before going into battle. In sports, the term was first used to describe the illegal drugging of race horses at the beginning of the 20th century” (WADA, 2003). Doping started to be used in animals that soon evolved into usage of human beings. It is now a common thing to many athletes.
“Doping in sport now includes a range of practices, including “blood doping” (the practice of autologous or homologous hemoglobin transfusions) and the use of synthetic erythropoeitin (EPO) to increase the number of red blood cells; anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to grow skeletal muscle; stimulants to improve cognitive function and reduce fatigue; and nitrogen tents and “houses” to simulate the effects of sleeping at high altitude” (Mehlman, 2005). It is of great reality that many athletes, in their desire to be on top, had already used performance enhancing drugs.
“In 1966, 37 champions from 2 sports federations were tested and 12 were tested positive. In this small sample, the percentage of doped athletes was 37%. In 1992, 8,000 tests were carried out in 56 federations and only 69 tested positive” (Department of Life Sciences, 1998). The growing usage of such drugs had now become the center of many debates and controversies in the field of sports entertainment. As we can see in the media, many athletes, even prominent athletes had their own share of controversy regarding performance enhancing drugs. People tend to question: Is the use of performance enhancing drugs ethical or not?
With the present dilemma in dealing with the use of performance enhancing drugs, this paper will try critically analyze the issue. This paper will try to unravel the ethical considerations in using such drugs. For an attempt not to be bias, the paper will try to discuss and put into consideration the both sides of the coin and will trey to come up with a conclusion in the end if the use of performance enhancing drugs resides in the realm of right and ethical actions or not. Without further ado, let us now begin our discussion. THE USE OF PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS Nowadays, the use of performance enhancing drugs became rampant.
It is also in connection with the growing salary offered by any sports. To be an athlete is one of the most desired dreams of any person. It is a man’s desire to be famous. The increase in number of persons using performance enhancing drugs also coincides with the growth in competition. In the athletic world, the fittest and toughest will be the one left and shall be called the champion. Everyone desires to be the champion. “In the United States, about 3 million people use anabolic steroids — one in four of these steroid users started as a teenager, and one out of every 10 is a teenager.
Anabolic steroids can halt bone growth and result in a permanently short stature, so they’re particularly dangerous for still-growing adolescents” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007). The growing number of people using performance enhancing drugs specially the teenagers is very alarming news. The society is now dealing even with juvenile drug addiction. The common reasons for the usage of performance enhancing drugs are frustration, curiosity, psychological effects, peer pressure and implicit approval. At a certain level of training, athletes undergo a rigorous routine in order to achieve a desired physical condition.
At some point in their training, they experience frustrations regarding the progress of their training or even in mere experience of a routine oriented lifestyle. Drugs play a role in the desire of athletes to go beyond and to fight frustrations. To some, drugs became their only friend in moments of loneliness and depression. Another reason for using performance enhancing drugs is curiosity. “Even athletes making good progress with their training may become curious and take performance-enhancing drugs just to see what will happen.
No tests can detect some drugs, so there’s little chance of getting caught” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007). Many drug users frequently elude detection because of the lack of sophisticated testing techniques. Until scientists develop a certain technique that would really detect all illegal drugs, the use of performance enhancing will still rise in the years to come. “Some substances produce feelings of invincibility and euphoria, which may be pleasurable enough that an athlete doesn’t want to stop taking banned drugs” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007). Most athletes want to be tough enough for challenges.
They want to be strong not only physically but mentally. Some drugs give the feeling that they wanted as they compete with other athletes. Some drugs give them the toughness they want to achieve. “The use of performance-enhancing substances is accepted by a significant number of athletes. If they think members of opposing teams use these substances, athletes may feel they need help to remain competitive” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007). This is what we call peer pressure. Athletes are most likely to use drugs because a lot of athletes are using it too.
It is the desire to remain competitive with other athletes who use performance enhancing drugs drives other athletes to take such drugs too. Finally, the last reason that sets in to an athlete’s mind that entices him to take performance enhancing drugs is the implicit approval of parents and coaches. Many parents and coaches tolerate the use of drugs because they too desire that their sons and daughters as athletes will win every competition. Again, because of the desire to be on top, even coaches and parents tolerate the use of performance enhancing drugs and to some extent, even persuading their own athletes to take it.
In some cases, coaches even try to put illegal drugs into the system of their athletes without the knowledge of the concerned people only for the desire to win and to satisfy their ego. PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS AND ITS SIDE EFFECTS Some of the most common performance enhancing drugs is creatine, anabolic steroids and ephedra. “Creatine is an over-the-counter supplement best known for improving performance to a small degree in sports involving short bursts of high-intensity activity, such as power lifting, wrestling and sprinting. Side effects include stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and muscle cramps.
High doses of creatine may be associated with kidney, liver or heart problems” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007). In taking a high dose of creatine, an athlete’s body will surely deteriorate and in the long run, will suffer grave consequences. Creatine may at a certain degree enhance performance among athletes but can damage the body in return. “Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone and come in tablets, injections, patches or gels. They build muscle and increase endurance, and are particularly popular with bodybuilders and football players.
Steroids can also damage the heart and liver” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007). Same as creatine, anabolic steroid can enhance athlete’s performance to a certain level but it also has a very debilitating effect to the body. Anabolic steroid is simply dangerous to an athlete. “Ephedra is a plant that contains the stimulants ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which have been used by athletes to reduce physical fatigue, lose weight and improve mental alertness” Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007). This certain enhancing drug can cause heart attacks, strokes and even to the extent of death.
In enhancing the body, there can always be side effects especially when the enhancement exceeds the natural flow of things. Performance enhancing drugs are artificial to a great extent because it goes beyond the natural capacity of the body. These drugs push the human body beyond its limits that in return, causes destruction and deterioration thus, making the human body its own victim. Therefore, performance enhancing drugs may give an athlete a higher level of performance but its side effects cannot be ignored. ARGUMENTS OF ANTI- PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS
Because of the growing number of athletes that are using performance enhancing drugs, there arises the challenge to ethical principles regarding sports. The world of sports entertainment became divided into two poles: the anti performance enhancing drugs and the pro performance enhancing drugs. Anti usage of performance enhancing drugs argues that “winning at all costs is not what is important; it is the taking part that counts” (http://www. beep. ac. uk/content/672. 0. html). Indeed, all athletes really want to win but winning is not everything.
The true fulfillment in joining a competition is being part of it and by trying one’s best to be on top. To win is not the true fulfillment in a game but it is on every ounce of strength an athlete gives in order to win that matters. By allowing athletes to use performance enhancing drugs, we are sending a message to the young people that idolizes them that taking drugs are alright, correct and ethical. Athletes are role models of many children. These children look at athletes as heroes and these heroes are their inspiration. Children wants to follow the footsteps of their heroes.
Taking drugs must not be a part of an athlete’s life because his life is a paragon of many children. Another argument that supports the anti doping position is the security of athlete’s health. This is one of the pillars of the anti doping movement in which the International Olympic Committee in 1967 have initiated. Indeed, there is nothing more important than securing an athlete’s health. Performance enhancing drugs have known side effects and will surely damage an athlete’s body. Damages caused by performance enhancing drugs may eventually cause impairment and even death.
Ensuring that the competition is fair and no one has an edge must also be bannered by athletes. This is also one of the pillars in the movement initiated by the International Olympic Committee in 1967 against doping. Performance enhancing drugs can give a significant advantage to an athlete. This is considered cheating because an athlete taking a performance enhancer is going beyond the natural capacity of the body. Not all athletes are taking drugs because of its harmful effects hence; taking performance enhancing drugs in a competition is cheating. “Just because it’s custom and practice does that make it right? ” (http://www.
beep. ac. uk/content/672. 0. html). Basically, even with the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs among athletes, it does not necessarily follow that doping is ethical and correct. Because it destroys the human body, it falls into the realm of unethical actions. Doping is not intrinsically good in itself because it has the power to destroy one’s body and does not promote fair competition hence, it is clearly unethical. Doping must be banned in sports entertainment. ARGUMENTS OF PRO- PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS On the other side of the coin, there are arguments that tend to justify the use of performance enhancing drugs.
The first argument is that winning is the most important part of a competition. What’s the point of putting one’s self into a rigorous training if one does not give the most importance to winning? An athlete must win at all cost. To win at all cost includes using performance enhancing drugs. “Athletes are never equal at the moment of competition. They enjoy lots of unfair advantages. Some are born with greater natural abilities” (Mehlman, 2005). Fairness is not an issue anymore in taking performance enhancing drugs because athletes were never equal in capacity at all.
As Mehlman further explicated, using performance enhancing drugs does not give additional danger to athletes because the sports in themselves are already dangerous enough that can even cause sudden death. Sports such as boxing and other contact sports are in a first place, dangerous to all athletes involved in it. Doping can just be a normal part of the sports world. Its effects can just be part of the risks that athletes undertake in order to win. There are no differences in risks among athletes with or without performance enhancing drugs. Almost in all sports, risks are always present.
“Spectators have the right to see the best possible performances, even when this involves taking performance-enhancing drugs” (http://www. beep. ac. uk/content/672. 0. html). This argument is paying tribute to the audience of any sport. Audience deserves to see the maximum performance that an athlete can give. They must be given the excitement they long to experience. Such perceived excitement can only be achieve with the help of performance enhancing drugs because athletes can go beyond their limits with the help of drugs, they can perform to the highest level.
CONCLUSION The dilemma set by the presence of performance enhancing drugs in the market and the growing number of usage by athletes is indeed a very hard problem to solve. We can see both sides of the coin as having substantial arguments. In deciding whether or not it is ethical to use performance enhancing drugs in the sports world, let us consider things that are of great significance. Even in values, there is a hierarchy. Honesty has a greater value than winning for sure. Honesty has an intrinsic value of goodness and it resides beyond the material world.
Although winning has its own value, it resides from the material world and therefore having its lesser significance. In taking performance enhancing drugs, a person who will decide whether or not it is ethical is caught up in the realm of values. What value has of greater significance? Therefore, we can conclude that it is unethical to use performance enhancing drugs. This is due to the fact that the values that the usage of performance enhancing drugs promotes are of lesser significance than the values that the non-usage of it promotes.
Values like honesty and fairness are values beyond the material world hence, it promotes ethical judgment. Ending this paper is a challenge. Let us not dwell on the things that give us shallow and narrow fulfillment. Let us dwell on things that give us the right fulfillment in life. All of us must be pro life and must always protect life. Let us not tolerate and allow the use of performance enhancing drugs. BIBLIOGRAPHY Department of Life Sciences (1998). Doping and sports: Collective expert assessment. Retrieved April 21, 2007 from http://www. cnrs.
fr/cw/en/pres/compress/dopage/dopage2. html#01 Longman, J. (2003). Drug-testing Agency Tells of a Steroid Scheme by U. S. Athletes. New York Times. Mayo Clinic Staff (2007). Performance-enhancing drugs and your teen athlete. Retrieved April 21, 2007 from http://www. mayoclinic. com/health/performance-enhancing-drugs/SM00045 Mehlman, Maxwell J. (2005). Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports. Retrieved April 21, 2007 from http://www. thedoctorwillseeyounow. com/articles/bioethics/perfdrugs_10/ Pound, Richard (2006). To Dope or Not to Dope: That is the Ethical Question — Part 1: An
Expert Interview With Dick Pound. Retrieved April 21, 2007 from http://www. medscape. com/viewarticle/544378 Religion ; Ethics- Ethical Issues. Retrieved April 21, 2007 from http://www. bbc. co. uk/religion/ethics/sport/debate/drawingline_2. shtml Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Banned In Sports. Retrieved April 21, 2007 from http://www. freeonlineresearchpapers. com/should-performance-enhancing-drugs-banned- sport Arguments for and against allowing the use of drugs in sport. Retrieved April 21, 2007 from http://www. beep. ac. uk/content/672. 0. html www. wada-ama. org