Recently a number of prominent athletes in kayaking, triathlon and cycling have tested positive for banned substances.
Thanks to all the moderate thinkers who have learned not to condemn athletes at the drop of the A sample.
My studies of sport philosophy taught me that to truly understand an issue we must look at both sides of the argument, no matter how distasteful the issue. As soon as we ignore the opposing argument we are showing uncategorical bias which can cloud one’s judgment. Now, I am not condoning drug use, only seeking for us to understand this issue better through looking at it from both sides.
Rather than a desire to win at all costs, performance enhancing drug use in athletes can be attributed to the mind being willing to work 110%, but the body only being able to go to 100% before breaking down. It is for lack of a better word an addiction to pushing one’s limits. We all do it; paddle an extra few km, try to get that 0.1 km/hr faster, lift 5 kg more, shave 0:01 off your 500 m best. Some do this in sport and play, others at work, some socially, others with finances.
Now, to play the devil’s advocate from a sport science perspective; I’ll counter Mike’s observations that anabolic steroid use will only benefit explosive anaerobic type efforts. Drug use can speed recovery allowing them to go that extra 10%. In theory a well administered anabolic steroid program should be able to speed recovery which would be a benefit to any athlete; explosive power or endurance. A well administered training program could easily minimize muscle mass gains, while maximizing the anabolic : catabolic balance in training load.
However, we need to remember that drug use alone will not make a champion; all top athletes have to have amazing skill and train as professionally as possible. We need to be aware that drugs are out there. The crucial moment for an athlete comes when they have to say “yes”, or “no”. This decision is often perceived as belonging only to the athlete, which is incorrect. As with any individual in society, our values are shaped by the community in which we live, work and play. The difference between “yes” and “no” may well lie in the perceived societal values being taught to the athlete by peers, coaches, administrators, friends, family, fans, media and all the others who influence that individual. When the perceived balance shifts too far from “no”, the temptation will begin.
Canadian Centre of Ethics in Sport CCES
Canadian Coaching Association Coaching Code of Ethics
Green and Gold Inc
Play by the Rules
True Sport Foundation
Centre for Sport and Law
Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada
Engineered Athlete Services