Performance-enhancing drugs : an ethical debate and sociological understanding
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The issue of the use of drugs in sport has been one of the longest running debates in the philosophy of sport. The major justifications for the current prohibition are: (1) to create fair contest, (2) to protect the health of the athlete and (3) that drug use is contrary to the ideals of sport. This paper analyses these claims and finds that, although at first glance convincing arguments, they fail to provide sound justification as they are inconsistent and not without convincing opposition. It was further concluded that the ban, rather than remove unfair contests and protect the health of the athlete, actually exacerbates these factors. Thus removal of the ban would result in more desirable sporting environments. Secondly it has been identified that drugs use in sporting contest has increased rapidly in recent years. This paper secondly provides a sociological understanding to such an increase by analysing changes in society such as the medicalisation process which has encompassed sport, in addition to changes within elite sporting contest such as the growing competitiveness of such sport as a result of politicalisation and commercialisation. These changes were thus concluded to facilitate such increase of drug consumption since (1) the medicalisation process is a social process which sport cannot be immune from and (2) as sport increased in competitiveness, athletes turned to any means possible to maximise performance, including performance-drugs.
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