Ethical issues regarding the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports
In the history of 20th century sports, specifically in the post World War 2 era, there has been an ever increasing use of performance enhancing drugs in all avenues of sport. Sports have become money making machine for both athletes and big business and the “win at all costs” attitude which has permeated itself into all aspects of professional and college level athletics. Winners make money, losers don’t. The temptation of fame, notoriety and million dollar contracts in all venues of sport is a lure for many athletes. Elite professional athletes are worshiped in today’s society.
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Anabolic steroids quickly became popular among athletes, including NFL players, seeking greater muscle growth and strength. From the 1950s through the 1980s, drugs were part of the sports and athletic programs of the Soviet Union and its political allies such as East Germany. Since the 1980s, performance enhancing drugs have exploded in all areas of sports.
Although steroids are the most publicized performance enhancement drug utilized by athletes, they are only part the issue. For example, in sports like golf, archery, or pistol shooting, where a steady hand is critical, drugs called “beta blockers” provide a performance enhancing function that counteracts high-pressure situations.
Another example of a different type of performance enhancement drug is the practice of “blood doping”. Blood doping is the practice of boosting the number of red blood cells in the bloodstream in order to enhance athletic performance. Because they carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles, more red blood cells in the blood can improve an athlete’s aerobic capacity and endurance. The main blood doping drug of choice is erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is used is such sports as competitive cycling, long distance running, triathlons and cross country skiing. The world’s marquee cycling event, the Tour de France, has been marred for the last 20 years of EPO doping allegations and the stripping of titles of past tour winners and allegations that still persist to this day about the American rider Lance Armstrong – who as of the writing of this paper – has not been stripped of his 7 tour wins.
Yet another category is the garden variety stimulants (amphetamines) which have been used in sports since the 1940’s like professional baseball and hockey, whose seasons last over 100 games per year. Amphetamines are also used in sports where the athlete needs to “make weight” like the sports of wrestling and boxing. Amphetamines have also reared their ugly head in the national football league, specifically when NFL all pro lineman Kory Stringer died from complications of heat stroke in 2001. Stringer was taking the amphetamine like supplement Ripped Fuel, which had high doses of ephedrine.
The final category of performance enhancing drug is the most publicized – steroids and human growth hormone. This category of performance enhancement drugs had is the most prevalent, but not inclusive to the sports of track and field, competitive weightlifting, baseball, football and professional wrestling (OK, I know - professional wrestling is “sports entertainment”). We could go on for pages here with all of the instances, Ben Johnson and Marion Jones getting their olympic medals stripped, yearly suspensions of both major league baseball and NCAA and professional football players, yearly steroid deaths weightlifters, bodybuilders, power lifters and professional wrestlers, the infamous Sammy Sosa \Mark McGuire homerun race in 1998, which, to some extent, made millions of dollars for...