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. Nonetheless, this is not considered illegal or improper in any way. It is incomprehensible why other enhancements with like effects, simply on a magnified scale, are viewed any differently. For the sake of clarity, let us continue to explore the depth to which the definition of the term extends.
Among the general population, the words “performance-enhancing drug,” have a negative connotation typically derived from the controversy associated with steroids. Although steroids are a sort of performance-enhancing drug, there are also countless other chemicals which could be categorized as such, including stimulants, such as caffeine and amphetamines, any painkillers, sedatives, diuretics that expel water from the body, blood-boosters that increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells, anabolic agents, lean mass builders including protein supplements, and any masking drugs (drugs used to disguise traces of other drugs). (Mangan)
For centuries, even since the time of the Greeks in the ancient Olympics, the practice of using drugs to enhance performance was not looked down upon. The Greeks’ preferred tonic was, of course, opium. In the jargon of the athletic world, we would call this substance dope. The very same illegal...