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The Ethical Use Of Performance Enhancing Drugs In Sports

Morality is the distinction between what is right and what is wrong. In the world of sports there is no place for immorality that would damage the fairness of the competition. Cheating through ways such as the use of performance enhancing drugs can harm the integrity of the game. Since the 1960’s athletes have been using drugs to enhance their abilities. In the past fifteen years, the number of known athletes using these performance enhancing drugs has increased considerably.

Two of the top athletes in their respective games, Lance Armstrong and Maria Sharapova, have revealed that during their career they each used performance enhancing drugs. This brings to question their morals and the successful careers they and many other have had due to the use of drugs to further their skills. There are many types of drugs used to enhance abilities that are used throughout the sports world. Common types of these drugs are steroids, stimulants, hormones, and supplements. Such drugs are used to increase an athlete’s strength, endurance, and ability.

By increasing these factors, it allows athletes to recover quicker, train harder, and improve their stamina. The long term effects of some performance enhancing drugs is that they allow athletes to have a longer career because it is helping protect their bodies. For all of these reasons, performance enhancing drugs are illegal in the world of sports to keep the game fair. The first act against the use of drugs in sports was in 1976 when the International Olympic Committee banned the use of steroids (Cable News Network [CNN], 2016).

Congress became involved in the issue by passing the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1988 which made “possession and distribution of nonprescription anabolic steroids for non-medical purposes a crime” (Cable News Network [CNN], 2016). In 1999, the World Anti-Doping Agency was established and a year later, in 2000, the U. S. Anti-Doping Agency was created (Cable News Network [CNN], 2016). Between the establishment of these two agencies and current day, the amount of athletes caught using performance enhancing drugs has increased greatly. Lance Armstrong is a former professional cyclist.

He won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005 and he won an Olympic bronze metal in 2000. To many he was considered one of the greatest of his time, but his reputation was shaken when the news broke that he had used performance enhancing drugs throughout his career. It was rumored that Armstrong had used performance enhancing drugs during his career but it was not until 2012 that an investigation was conducted which resulted in him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life (Cable News Network [CNN], 2016).

Armstrong was also required to return the Olympic bronze metal he won in 2000 (Wilson, 2013). In 2013, he admitted to using multiple types of performance enhancing drugs including erythropoietin, corticosteroids, and testosterone (Wilson, 2013). Erythropoietin is a drug that is used to increase red blood cell count in the body which leads to increased endurance and better recovery (Wilson, 2013). Corticosteroids are taken to increase strength and reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain (Wilson, 2013).

Testosterone is a hormone that also increases red blood cell production and strength, along with controlling fat distribution (Wilson, 2013). Each of the drugs that Armstrong admitted to using were illegal due to the fact that the use of these drugs were proven to enhance performance and abilities. Lance Armstrong’s titles were revoked and his character was questioned due to his choice to cheat. Maria Sharapova is a professional tennis player. She won a silver medal in the 2012 Olympics and five grand slam titles (Ubha, 2016).

In 2016, Sharapova admitted to using the performance enhancing drug, meldonium, for the past ten years of her career (Ubha, 2016). Meldonium is used to increase endurance and help with the recovery process (Ubha, 2016). This drug gives athletes an edge because it allows them to recovery quicker which therefore allows them to train harder. Meldonium also increases endurance which, in a sport such as tennis, gives the athlete an advantage. As a result of revealing the truth, Sharapova has lost many of her sponsorships that have made her the richest female athlete for eleven consecutive years, including Nike and Tag Heuer (Ubha, 2016).

Porsche has also postponed sponsorship with Sharapova (Ubha, 2016). The punishment for the use of this illegal substance has not yet been given out, but Ubha writes that for a first time offense, Sharapova is likely to get a two to four year suspension from the sport. This long of a suspension has the potential to be career ending. Not only will this tarnish Sharapova’s career, but it will also have a permanent mark on her character. The use of performance enhancing drugs in the sports world brings about many questions involving morals.

The increasing amount of athletes being caught using can cause the fans of the sport to question if every athlete that excels above the others is using drugs to improve their performance. This creates a distrust in the world of sports. Once an athlete is revealed to have used performance enhancing drugs, it then leads other to question all of their accomplishments. This bring up the question of if their achievements are still valid even if they were using drugs to enhance their abilities. The world of sports answers “no” to this question by revoking the accomplishments of these athletes, such as that of Lance Armstrong.

Performance enhancing drugs are a way of cheating, and therefore winning by way of cheating is no longer a respected win. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “…there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws” (Bloom & Smith, 2011, p. 499). No matter what excuses athletes may make regarding the use of illegal drugs, it is their moral obligation to obey these laws to keep their respective games fair by doing what is right.

Many college and high school athletes see only the positive effects of performance enhancing drugs that show on the field, but what many do not know is the severe side effects steroids and other drugs can have (Runyan, 2013). “There has been a spate of high-school-athlete suicides in the past decade associated with steroid abuse; teens are particularly at risk because the pattern of cycling on and off these drugs messes with their hormone levels, leading to mood swings and severe depression. ” (Runyan, 2013). Not only are there negative effects on athlete’s bodies and mental health, but also to their morals.

The use of drugs to enhance athletic abilities is a form of cheating and lying. Some young athletes do not view the use of such drugs as a danger because they are too consumed with their improving their talents and making it to the next level of the game. To decrease the use of performance enhancing drugs, especially in the lives of young athletes, there must be an increase in the awareness of the damages that the use of drugs can cause. The increasing use of performance enhancing drugs had been a problem in the sports world for over a half of a century, but the recent spike of cases has brought up the question of morality.

By using these drugs athletes are damaging their own morals as well as the integrity of their game. If the use of performance enhancing drugs continues to increase like it has in the past twenty years, sporting events will loose their appeal because there will be no real competition. By doing what is right, and following the rules put in place by authorities of their respective games, athletes are able to maintain the fairness of the game and improve their skills the right way.

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