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Drugs In Sports

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Can Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports "Level Out the Playing Field" and Increase Competition?

James Phalin

September 24, 2006

Can Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Sports "Level Out the Playing Field" and Increase Competition?

Have you ever wondered why some athletes are better at sports than others, and why certain athletes win all the time? Well, genetics is their secret. Everyone's genetic make-up

determines whether or not they have the ability to excel at athletics naturally or not. People, who

have not been given a gift from the genetic lottery, should be given a safe, yet legal, alternative

in gaining the upper hand to "level the playing field" and to increase competition. Performance-

enhancing drugs provide this equaling of the masses. With the use of performance-enhancing drugs, it will be athletes "...with a combination of the genetic potential, training, psychology, and judgment...human creativity and choice" (Savulescu J, Foddy B, Clayton M, 2004), that are competing against one another.

There are many athletes who have been given the gift from the genetic lottery and are

excelling in today's sports. For example, Lance Armstrong, an American seven time Tour de

France winner has inconceivably low lactic acid levels. Lactic acid is what the muscles produce

when the body reaches exhaustion. This makes the muscles stop contracting. Armstrong only

produces half of the lactic acid that of a normal person's muscles produce (Stefan L, 2005). This

enables his muscles to recuperate much quicker than other people. Also, Ian Thorpe, an

American Olympic swimmer has size 17 feet. Swimming in competition with his size 17 feet are

as unfair as a paddle boat racing a motor boat. The advantage is due to his genetic make-up. With

all the practice in the world, not many humans can compare to his genetic advantage. There are

also others that have genetic advantages similar to or the same as these athletes. But, more

importantly there are many others that were not blessed with these genetic advantages who need

performance-enhancing drugs to promote genetic equality.

Performance-enhancing drugs are the key to equality in sports. Administering safe doses

of performance-enhancing drugs help the body to train harder and recover quicker to compete

with genetically enhanced athletes. For instance, Erythropoietin (EPO) is a safe, natural drug.

EPO is a natural hormone that raises the Haematocrit (HCT), the percentage of the blood

comprised by red blood cells. This, in turn, delivers more oxygen to the body (Savulescu J,

Foddy B, Clayton M, 2004). Thus allowing the athlete to train harder and recover his/her

muscles quicker. Another substance that improves the athlete's ability to compete with

a genetically gifted athlete is synthetic Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Natural HGH is

produced by the pituitary gland. But, synthetic HGH is commonly used by physicians on patients

with growth deficiencies. It also has an extremely valuable use for non-genetically gifted

athletes. HGH builds muscle mass and encourages the tissue to repair itself quicker, decreasing

injury time and fatigue by increasing the recovery time (Dohrmann G, 2006, Vol. 104 Issue 25

p.19). Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are yet another type of performance-enhancing drugs that could level the playing field. AAS is testosterone in the drug form, in which it increases the mass of the muscle (Evans N, 2004). As stated by Dr. Nicholas Evans, "Testosterone has potent anabolic effects on the musculoskeletal system, including an increase in lean body mass, a dose-related hypertrophy of muscle fivers and an increase in muscle strength" (2004). This is the most

common of the three and has been the most controversial, but Dr. Evans (2004) affirms that,

"clinical studies suggest that short-term use of AAS in medically indicated doses is reasonably

safe". All three of these performance-enhancing drugs can be taken to enable the normal athlete

to perform super human, like the genetically gifted.

All of the aforementioned performance-enhancing drugs are illegal in today's sporting

events. But, they all should be legal if given in safe doses and administered by trained, qualified

physicians. It is believed by Dr. Maxwell Mehlman (2005) that

the anti-doping rules of sport are aimed at athletes, teams, and, to a lesser extent,

coaches and trainer, and not physicians who may be the source of the banned

substances. While the Anti-Doping code of the World Anti-Doping Agency

prohibits anyone from administering or attempting to administer a banned

substance, or assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up or being

complicit in a violation or attempted violation of an anti-doping rule, sports

organizations

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