Sportspeople and Drugs
At the end of the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, the International Olympic Committee ejected 35 athletes from the games for doping or using performance enhancing drugs. These of course were the athletes that got caught, how many there were in total that resorted to this form of cheating is anybody's guess.
No one likes a cheat, but human nature being what it is there will always be people who are prepared to do anything to beat others in competition.
There is much talk in athletic circles about the abuse of performance enhancing drugs, about where to draw the line between what is considered to be a normal or performance enhancing drug and in the case of naturally occurring substances in the human body, how to determine if these have been artificially boosted (testosterone for example).
Sport is supposed to be fair competition between human beings, a test of human endurance, natural ability and dedicated training to achieve peak performance. In order to maintain the principle of fairness most sports separate men from women, it follows then that to maintain the spirit of sportsmanship perhaps a further division should be considered that separates all athletes into two camps, those that take drugs and those that don't.
Permit the use of drugs in sports
By permitting the use of any non-illegal drugs by those athletes that want to follow this route and setting up a separate athletic circuit for them, true sportsmanship in the field of athletics can again be achieved.
Of course competition and success within the drug taking 'sportspeople'camp would become more of a competition between chemists and drug companies than between athletes. Nevertheless the advertising and marketing opportunities would be outstanding. The listing of performance enhancing drugs used by each competing sportsperson would become part of the build up before competition begins, drug companies would sponsor athletes and whole teams would wear the names of their drug sponsors on their shirts, quick acting booster drugs would be administered during intervals etc. World records would be quoted as being either naturally achieved or drug enhanced.
It would also be interesting to discover just how many athletes end up in each camp. An indication might come from a survey carried out by Dr. Robert Goldman in 1995 who asked 198 US Olympic-level athletes whether they would take a banned drug that would guarantee them victory but would kill them in five years. More than half of the athletes said yes.
By setting up the two athletic groups it would become much more of a social crime if a drug enhanced athlete was discovered competing with straight athletes, the stigma that would be attached to any such convicted athlete would be devastating.
On a final note, we may be poised to enter another era that could overshadow drug boosted athletic performance. Advances in Genetic Engineering and the legalization of certain GE techniques will soon provide athletes with the ability to perhaps inject a virus that delivers genes that would say increase oxygen production in the body for example. Such a development would of course raise a requirement for perhaps a third level of separation in sports competition.
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