Legalizing Performance Enhancing Drugs

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It is common knowledge that chemistry plays a vital role in the world of sports. Sports drinks, pain medication, and dietary supplements are just a few of the myriad forms chemicals are involved in athletes’ everyday training. Even so, the controversial use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) has evoked serious ethical debate. I believe PEDs are merely another chapter in the book of human improvement, and by legalizing them we can help men reach their fullest potential.

Exactly what are performance-enhancing drugs? They are, as the name implies, chemical substances administered with the intent to improve a player’s performance. However, in legal terms, there is no concrete definition. Professional athletic associations have archived lists of banned substances, but the rules vary from sport to sport, and from organization to organization. This is because it is invariably difficult to draw definite lines distinguishing treatments from enhancements. Norman Fost, MD, in Performance Enhancing Drugs, helps illustrate this dilemma:

Consider the mythical planet of Asthmatica, where everyone wheezes all the time. Suppose a child was born into this population with an albuterol-secreting tumor, which relieved his wheezing and allowed him to run laps around everyone on the planet. Scientists and industry would undoubtedly seize the opportunity to create a cell line from the tumor, and manufacture industrial quantities of the drug. Assume the new drug were shown to be safe, effective, and eventually cheap. Would use of this wonder drug be treatment or enhancement?

By general definition, a player taking an ibuprofen for sore joints is technically using a PED, as it is a chemical substance engineered to improve performance. Nonethele...

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