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The Issue of Legalization of Doping in Sports

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Do you think that cheating on a test in school is okay to do, as long as everyone else is doing it? That is how most athletes argue their case for why they dope. Doping in sports is basically using illegal drugs or illegal amounts of legal drugs to enhance the performance of an athlete. Two sports that are highly affected by doping are football and cycling. In football some players use steroids to become bigger and stronger, but in cycling the athletes use performance enhancing drugs that are called anabolic steroids. These performance enhancing drugs, unlike normal steroids, are only effective for a short period of time because they increase red blood cell production. This allows the athletes’ muscles to work more efficiently because they now have more oxygen. The effect then wears off in a few hours and the athletes return back to their normal red blood cell count. This is how many cyclists improve their performance and they are breaking old records with each race. However, these performance enhancing drugs are currently illegal, but the idea of legalizing them is becoming increasingly popular due to more and more athletes getting exploited for using them.

Many athletes say that they dope because everyone else is doing it and they need to do it if they still want to compete. However, if doping could be put to an end all together then everyone would have an equal chance at being the best and the winner would be the one who worked the hardest instead of who found the best drug to use. In Kathy L. Hahn’s book Are Athletes Good Role Models? Chuck Klosterman says that performance enhancing drugs have been around for a long time and even though and they are being used more abundantly because today’s people crave more exciting and competitive sports. Klosterman’s theory is true and that as long as records continue to be broken the fans will be happy. Klosterman goes on to say that the athletes continue to dope because it increases their income and popularity (166). In some cases there have been athletes who have broken a record and then five or six years later they are found guilty of using drugs to help their performance. This causes them to lose their entire fan base and become disliked by the public. This proves that even if records are no longer being broken fans will still encourage athletes to strive towards those records. If doping is completely exterminated then the fans will be even happier to know that these athletes are accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks by training for long hours instead of using performance-enhancers. For example, Lance Armstrong became much more popular after he came back from having testicular cancer and winning the Tour De France. However, after he was found to be doping the entire time his fan base went from being really high to having more dislike than people that like him.

Today’s public knows that athletes use steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, but it is only the people who get caught that they dislike. These athletes are also usually the ones who set the amazing records such as Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds. These seemingly supernatural athletes are also usually caught after they have retired or are no longer in their prime. This happens because when athletes are started to be investigated they bribe the doctors to keep it secret until after they win and make all their money. For example Barry Bonds ended his career the season that he hit his final home run to break Hank Aaron’s record. Besides the fact he was getting old, his case with using steroids was becoming public and a couple of years later he was convicted of using steroids.

When you are a professional athlete your sport is your job and therefore, when athletes dope to perform better it is a lot like indirectly stealing money from other athletes. Will Routley, a Canadian cyclist, wrote in his article, “Dopers are not Victims”, in Canada they use a system called “carding“ to decide who gets to go to the Olympics and who receives money for representing Canada in the Olympics. In the past Canada has given out cards to riders who dope which mean that a rider that doesn’t dope could be knocked out of the opportunity to earn money for racing (1). This means that doping to get a card is indirectly stealing. Routley goes on to say “I have yet to receive a cheque in the mail from a doper with a letter saying ‘sorry Will, here is the money I stole from you.”” If using drugs to win is like stealing money then shouldn’t these athletes be charged with theft? It seems perfectly logical for athletes who dope to go to jail if they are caught during their career or after. Athletes today that are caught afterwards are only forced to return their medals and in some cases pay a fine. This makes athletes that competed against these drug users very angry because that could have been them that got all the fame, fortune, and publicity.

Former Olympian, Kate Schmidt, writes in her article, “Steroids: Take One for the Team”, “There would be far fewer home runs; smaller, slower, less muscular athletes and no new records for the next few decades until human development and equipment technology compensated for the absence of these drugs. There also would be fewer fans, reduced ticket sales, less ad revenue, less lucrative TV contracts and smaller stadiums built. The beneficiaries of performance-enhancing drug use exist at every level of the sports industry.” She believes that without steroids and performance enhancing drugs sales would be lower because sports would be less interesting. However, even though the athletes are smaller without drugs all of the athletes are smaller which just evens the playing field. For example, in baseball Schmidt argues that “there would be far fewer home runs,” when actually there would most likely be the same amount of homeruns because the pitches would also be slower and easier to hit. Also the athletes might be smaller and slower, but they would not seem that way because every single athlete would be smaller and slower. This would make all the athletes appear the same in competition, but only look different in person.

Doping in sports is also very dangerous considering that there is little information on the effects of these drugs. In the article “Doping is more than just Cheating” Richard T. Bosshardt writes “Doping includes such drugs as anabolic steroids, human-growth hormone, and erythropoietin ‘epo.’ The latter stimulates bone marrow to produce more red-blood cells. There is much more wrong with doping than just an unfair advantage. Medically, there are harmful effects of doping that are still not well understood.” Some steroids can cause many fatal diseases such as different kinds of cancers and heart disorders. On a smaller scale steroids can also cause a sudden mood change which is where we get the term “roid rage”. If we allowed athletes to dope in sports then many athletes could eventually develop a life threatening disease because that is what everyone in the sport did. If we continue to try and stop doping in sports then these diseases become less likely to occur in professional athletes. Also if we got rid of illegal drugs in sports we could use the labor and money of the people figuring the effects of these performance-enhancing to work on larger projects such as cures for cancers and heart diseases.

If we allow athletes to dope it will lead to many diseases and sports will no longer be about who the best athlete is, but who has the best drugs. As long as the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports stays illegal and doctors continue to figure out ways to make the drug tests find all performance-enhancing drugs athletes will have to continue to work hard and keep their integrity. Hopefully one day sports will go back to when no drugs were used and sports were purely based on talent and skill.  

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The Issue Of Legalization Of Doping In Sports. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from
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