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An Assessment of the Impact of Doping Legalization in Athletics

  • Category: Sports
  • Topic: Doping
  • Pages: 7
  • Words: 2997
  • Published: 26 April 2019
  • Downloads: 19
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Performance enhancing drugs and procedures are broadly used among sportsmen in order to win and show the best calisthenics. Athletes take doping and go through different medical treatments to increase their natural abilities. According to the dictionary, doping is “the use of a drug or blood product to improve athletic performance” (, n.d). In other words, it is prohibited drugs, which are used to improve training sessions and sporting results. Ignoring the fact that the use of doping is illegal and dangerous for health, new substances have been obtained by scientists to pass doping tests. This issue always takes a form of “Black and White”, there is no medium solution to the problem of banning it or not. One side believes that banning drugs will not have major results and the question of illegitimacy should be considered. Another side considers the sport as the competition of real physical abilities and thinks that there is no place for enhancing substances (Morente-Sanchez and Zabala 2013). This dilemma became widespread and one of the most controversial issues in sports area. Doping is used not only among professional sportsmen, but among amateur and school athletes too. The introduction of anti-doping policies has become necessary after increasing cases of using performance-enhancing drugs. Sports world accepted these rules and have been following a set of regulations, restricting the use of doping, since it’s establishing, however, some people stand for the idea of legalization of drugs, verifying it with the possibility of fairy and safety (Morente-Sanchez and Zabala 2013). The issue of doping is not simply a question of legitimization, it is a slippery slope argument, which means that relatively small change leads to a chain of related events making the problem more complicated ( 2014). Change in doping policy may affect society, sportsmen, economics, medicine and a sport industry in a whole. This research is going to discuss the sport as the perpetuator of humanist’s concept of value of sport by trans humanist’s qualities, which have been used to expand boundaries of persons’ ability and go beyond the humanity (Miah 2003). It will argue that even if anti-doping policies stop the development of human beings, they should exist in order to save the spirit of sport. First of all, it will consider the rise of anti-doping policy during Cold War and find the reasons of the expansion of the drug use. Secondly, it is going to examine the question from post humanist’s approaches considering performance enhancements in general medicine and sport medicine and looking at the use of technology in sport in the case of Oscar Pistorius. Finally, the research will consider the humanist’s approach and arguments against the use of doping in sport.

The use of doping increases during world competitions. Especially, during Olympic games, the whole world watches and supports their countries in sportive competitions. Using the situation, politicians exploit it in for their own interests. A good example of accomplishment is Cold War (1947-1991), when every cultural branch from literature to arts, cinema and sports were affected by the rivalry between United States and Soviet Union. Sport was an arena for political conflict, each side tried to show their superiority in front of another (Soares 2009). As the result, this burden gave rise to the use of doping. Sportsmen were influenced to take risks of their lives and took performance-enhancing drugs. Despite the personal interests of athletes, one of the reasons of risky behavior could be the pressure, which could come from family, friends or country. In case of Cold War, sport was used as a tool for the ideological propaganda; therefore sportsmen were under the political pressure to win medals at international competitions. After the death of Danish cyclist Knud Jensen at the Olympic games in Rome in 1960, which was caused by the constant use of amphetamines, different national and transnational levels of Olympic governance started concerning and addressing more attention to the problem of doping (Hunt 2007). This ended up with the development of anti-doping policies by International Olympic Committee (IOC) (Hunt 2007). By 1967, it firstly banned the use of performance enhancing drugs in Olympic games; in 1968 IOC introduced the drug use testing system to the world, which was one of the most significant changes. It was first tried in 1972 during the Olympic games in Munich, as the result 7 athletes were caught in using the prohibited substances and were disqualified. All these restrictions were need to save the central philosophical idea of sport. Humanist’s approach, which stands for natural abilities of people, was used. The main argument for preventing the rise of doping and stopping it was the bad impact on health of sportsmen; drugs have mental, physical and emotional effects on them (Coleman 2008). People accepted the anti-doping policy of that time, however the world is changing, and trans humanism is no more the case of unrealistic future. Fukuyama, an American philosopher, demonstrates that “our post human future” became recognized as our post human present, therefore the anti-doping policy should be reconsidered in terms of developing world (Miah 2003).

Sport can be seen as an idealistic humanism, because it rejects most of the performance enhancing substances and controls the competition to be in natural abilities. However, sport is an interesting case, it has a great possibility to post humanism practices. Athletes can be seen as ambassadors of trans humanism. They are already in the edge of the human natural abilities. Therefore, sport is the case where the trans humanism can be justified. Trans humanism is a philosophical approach, which lies between humanism and post humanism ( 2014). It is concerned about the fundamentally enhancing and transforming the human beings by developing technologies to increase people’s physical and intellectual abilities. Which means to go beyond the humanism, natural abilities of people. Francis Fukuyama states that it is “world’s most dangerous ideas” (quoted in Miah 2003). However, in a precipitously developing world, where human beings are surrounded with technology it is difficult to distinguish humanism and post humanism. One area, where the most persuasive examples of trans humanism is been practiced, is medical science. Since first pharmaceutical products were established to mass production, people became more dependent on technologies. Recently, the transplantation of human organs, the manipulation of genes, the emerge of advanced prosthetics and the growth of organs were presented to world. People positively respond to these findings, despite the fact that this is the straight way to the trans humanism. However it can be voidable, since this treatment are made to “repair” human body, rather than enhancing it. There occurs a problem, concerning about defining when technology repair a person or when it enhance him (Crawford and Manchanda, 2007). To think logically, it seems easy to define term “repair” as making person healthier from a state of illness. However what kind of person can be considered healthy? Therefore, repairing means raising a health of person to the point before the health in other word to a level of normal lifestyle functioning. Enhancement, conversely, change the human body to level that exceeds the capabilities of normal human being. However, medicine has always been about repairing, rather than enhancement, people take medical procedures to recover form illnesses and the health problems is still the main reason for human beings refer to medicine (Anderson P. and Andreson R. 1945).

As the general medicine does not provoke the post humanism, sports medicine can have more persuasive context. As it was mentioned before, sport is premised on idealistic notions of humanism, national and international federations hold rules and moral codes to keep fair play. However, sport is already post human. Athletes play the role of ambassadors of trans humanism, opening the boundaries of human abilities. The expanding boundaries is impossible without distinct blurring of human and technology, therefore sport is the case where trans humanism can be justified (Edwards and McNamee 2005). The trans humanism in sport is brought by “performance enhancement”. Drug taking and doping is considered as unacceptable performance enhancement and are banned. Doping is associated with elite competitions, because the importance of winning is very high due to the “performance pricile” or “achievement-oriented sport”, which force sportsmen to expand their abilities using technologies. However, the sport cannot be called trans humanistic, because sport policy refutes the use of drugs and doping. Miah (2003), an academic in area of technologies and post humanism, points out that claims against doping are not persuasive. Despite the moral issue about removing drugs in order to save the “spirit od sport”, the fight against the doping seems to be ineffective. To begin with, the sport nowadays is a big business, where money plays important role. The amount of money spent on anti-doping policies is little comparing with the whole sportive industry. Furthermore, the doping is not a priority for sportive authorities, according to investments of the sport budget. Finally, athletes, in most of the cases, are ahead of medical testing measures. It catches only those who made a mistake or used primitive techniques of doping, which makes the future of anti-doping policies barren (Vorstenbosch 2012). Add to this recent development in gene doping, and then the possibility of recognizing it would be hard to implement. There is still no coherent and accurate ethical policy, which distinguishes different kinds of doping (Miah 2003). Having just argued the reasons of doping to be legal, we can say that it is easier to allow the use of doping, however, the anti-doping policies work to control the situation. The listed above thing happens when the use of doping is illegal and its permission may result in worse outcomes.

Trans humanism stands for going beyond the natural abilities with the use of different technologies, which include medical enhancements and exterior technologies. Sportsmen, throughout the history, used high level of trainings to achieve their goals. Technology was used to make their actions higher, faster and stronger. Innovations in tennis racquets, sports shoes and training suits in combination with the special diet increased the performance of athletes (Culberston 2011). What the argument is saying, is that it is difficult to distinguish what is artificial and normal. Listed above examples can also be argued as performance enhancements, however they are not illegal. However, even if enhancements such as drugs will never be allowed in sports, trans humanist’s ideals can be argued from the case of the use of other technologies. A lot of different types of sports equipment are accepted, based on a condition whereas they decrease the integrity of sport or not (Verbruggen, quoted in Miah 2003). In addition, devices used in sports allude to technology to become a part of athlete’s body. It is comparable to the prosthetic devices, which replace biological limbs. As we see, sports equipment recently is more the part of an athlete, rather than an extension. There was an interesting case in history; Oscar Pistorius the sprint runner with amputation below the knee from South Africa competes in events for able-bodies athletes (Jones and Wilson 2009). At the 2011 World Championship in Athletics he became the first Paralympic sportsmen who won an able-bodied world medal. Furthermore, he was the first to participate in Summer Olympics in 2012, competing in the men’s 400metre distance. The case of Pistorius illustrates and defends trans humanist’s view that promotes the use of technology to expand the natural abilities of human beings. However, this case has been the subject of critics, as it is assumed that his artificial limbs give him an advantage in front of physical strong and capable sportsmen. His artificial limbs could give him a stuts of “dis-abled”, “abled”, or even “super- abled” sportsmen. International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) argued that Pistorius can not compete with the able-bodied athletes and banned ’the use of any technical device incorporating springs, wheels or any other element that provides the user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device’’ (Rule 144.2) (ibid). The research was conductes in order to determine whether Pistorius has such advantage or not. The results showed that his j-shaped blades, known as cheetahs, first of all increase energy level by 25%, secondly they give three times greater energy return and finally provide mechanical for lifting the body (Hilvoorde and Landeweerd 2010). All of advantaged contradict the rule 144.2 and therefore Pistorius was not abled to perform in 2008 Summer Olympics. Pistorius appealed against the rule to the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport, were his advantage was rejected. The CAS determined that tests showed the Pistorius’s abilities only at full-speed when he was running in a straight line. However 400 meters race is not straight. Therefore he had a chance to represent South Africa in Olympics (Marcellini et al. 2012). The case of Pistorius showed that technologies are already used in sport, which emphasize that sport is on track towards trans humanism and performance enhancements banning policies just suspend the process. However, in case of Oscar Pistorius we can say that medicine was used in “repair” aims, not to enhance his abilities. In addition, medical technology has been used, whereas doping is another case. Technology, comparing to doping, do not harm sportsmen, which is the main reason of its banning, therefore even if technology and doping are both performance-enhancements. We cannot consider them as the same thing (McNamee 2007).

In a constantly developing world, some people try to stop the development of trans humanism and begin it from sports, by banning performance enhancing drugs and procedures. Sport became as a little prototype of the world. Critics of trans humanism are afraid of future division of being on humanists and post humanists. Some people will be able to get these enhancing substances or procedures, whereas others will be left with nothing. As the result, it will increase inequality between rich and poor. Wealthy people will develop applying possible techniques, because they will be able to pay for them, whereas poor people will stagnate. The gap between them will rise and lead to irreversible situation (Culbertson 2011). Humanists see the similar patterns in sport: the legalization of doping will result in competition of chemists and country’s abilities to provide them by laboratories, substances and financial help. The rich countries, which are able to finance the sport industry will develop and win, whereas most of the developing countries will not be able to compete in these conditions. Therefore humanists stand for restrictions of doping (McNamee and Edwards 2006).

Before such ideology as trans humanism became widespread, Ellul in 1965 wrote “new dismembering and a complete reconstitution of the human being so that he can at least become the objective of techniques” (quoted in McNamee and Edwards 2006). Trans humanism is seen as a threat to morality. People, by nature, have an ability to believe, think, feel and act, all of listed makes the person the member of the human species, whereas going beyond the natural human capacities, can be seemed as the ignorance the rights and obligation of human beings. Therefore can the person with not normal abilities be considered as human being? (Persson and Savulescu 2010). The same can happen in sport nowadays, sportsmen will become strong and invincible; their abilities will depend on the type of doping which they took. One question rises straightway: How the sportsmen will be evaluated? As everyone will aim getting new enhancing procedures, it will become the competition of medicine. Sportsmen, who are able to get the cutting-edge technologies, will be in advance of others. In addition, sport is interesting for audience because it surpasses limits of human beings. Breaking the world’s best times, heights and distances, athletes expand the boundaries of human abilities. Some sportsmen fail then rise again and reach the peak. That is what makes sport so popular all over the world, and the possibility of athletes go beyond their abilities by enhancing procedures may decrease the interest among the population (McNamee 2007).

Finally, as the humanism stands on the human natural abilities and rejects the use of doping, it does not mean that this perspective rejects the development of human beings. Humanists believe that people are able to expand their abilities with out the use of technologies and that it can be increased by trainings and willpower too. A good example is martial art, which is a system and traditions of combat trainings, very commonly associated with fights, practiced for physical, mental and spiritual development (Nosanchuk 1989). Through the systematic practices person boosts his physical power, what is more martial arts is not concern only about physical abilities. Through the trainings sportsmen achieve mental health, emphasizing self-esteem, self-control, emotional and spiritual well being. As the result, the sportsmen are able to break wooden blocks with bare hands and walk on hot coals (Allen 2013). Overall, Martial arts as a representative of humanism, shows us that human beings are able to develop without technological intervention and medical treatments.

In conclusion, this research showed that the legitimization of the doping in sport will not have significant results and trans humanists approach cannot defend the use of performance-enhancements in sport as the path to the post humanism. Even if sportsmen nowadays find new ways to cheat medical testing, the anti-doping policies try to control the situation (Vorstenbosch 2012). Furthermore, the humanist’s approach, which recently is used in sport, helps to save the spirit of sport and equality between sportsmen (Coleman 2008). In addition, they explain that the legislation of doping will lead to the problems with the judging of competitions and propose the way of development without using the different types of technology. However, the sport is still an area where the line between humanism and trans humanism is blurred. With in this framework, the use of technologies in sport can be seen as already the way to trans humanism, although the doping is not the same as technologies, therefore they cannot be considered under the same perspective.

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