Little to say for myself

Monday, August 09, 2004

The "B" of the Bang

Fascinating article by sports academic Lincoln Allison questioning the ban on performance-enhancing drugs from professional sport.
Forty years ago, we applied rules on amateurism to top-class athletes. By the end of this century, our current official stance against drugs in sport will look every bit as risible.
I've often thought it odd that people are so vocal against the use of these drugs, on the grounds that it's "unfair" and "unnatural". It's plausible that people just think "drugs = wrong", and that's as far as the logic goes. As far as I'm concerned, if a professional athlete wants to take a small risk with their health (similar to the one I take whenever I get a bit sloshed) in order to enhance their performance, then why the hell not? It's not as if they're otherwise normal "naturally fit" people anyway. What's normal about running 120 miles or swimming 60 km a week? In these days of scientific nutrition and special diets and supplements for athletes, that's only performance enhancement by another, more laborious, route.

There are plenty of professional athletes who are happy to risk their lives for money and accolade, legitimately, in a boxing ring or a F1 car, so why not on a tartan track?

I suppose it all comes down to whether or not it's desirable to have "role models" taking risks with their health and encouraging our impressionable youth to do the same. On that front I think teenagers have plenty of opportunities to follow their idols down dangerous paths for the addition of athletes to the list to be insignificant. So long as they are shown that, in all things, they have a choice, and they see the pros and cons on both sides, they will choose powerfully.

As for the use of drugs making the competition unfair for the "clean" athletes, the authorities are on a hiding to nothing trying to keep pace with stealth pharmaceutical technology. By definition, they have to know what new drugs are out there before they can start to develop ways of detecting them, so they will always be runners up, so to speak. The only way to restore the level playing field is to lift all restrictions on what athletes are allowed to put into their bloodstreams, so they all have an equal chance.

Maybe the British swimming team could then develop a prosthetic outboard motor and we could start winning medals again.

posted by Plig | 11:41 |

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