The term “doping” is often used to describe an athlete that is using performance enhancing drugs to have an edge over the competition. Primarily banned due to the countless side-effects that outweigh their purpose, performance enhancing drugs are foreign chemicals that change the way the body operates naturally. Stem Cell medicine however, has become a controversial topic in the world of sports medicine because it is the first method that does not introduce foreign material to the body, and it also does not change the way the body functions naturally. As technology advances the definition of what is considered cheating must be reevaluated. Stem Cell treatment should not be categorized alongside harmful drugs such as anabolic steroids, stimulants, gene doping or peptide hormones.
There is much confusion behind the different types of “doping” when it comes to the manipulation of cells and DNA. The International Olympic Committee as well as WADA, World Anti-Doping Agency has set a clear standard on what is to be considered an illegal drug or illegal act of performance enhancement; however they have not stated clearly why stem cells are part of this standard. Instead both WADA and the International Olympic Committee have sanctioned all treatments involving genetic technology unethical. Gene or Cell doping is defined by these agencies as “the non-therapeutic use of genes, genetic elements and or cells that have the capacity to enhance athletic performance.” What degree of enhancing is considered cheating when it comes to the body’s natural processes? These are the types of questions that need to be answered when it comes to these new medical discoveries. “The root of the difficulties that the anti-doping campaign has to wrestle with remains precisely because the concept of doping has not been sufficiently clarified.” (Moller 7).
Stem Cell treatment involves the transfer of the patients own stem cell DNA to be removed from one healthy area and then injected into the muscle tissues of the injury site. The process is practically painless. There is absolutely no foreign material or chemicals involved and the healing response time can be as soon as two weeks. There have yet to be any harmful side effects although; more testing is still currently in process. Examples of treatment include repairs on: tendon injury’s, torn rotator cuffs, miniscule tares as well as prompt quicker healing of stress fractures and muscle strains. It is common today to remove a ligament to repair an injury. It is also common to see professional athletes competing with man-made prosthetic limbs to enhance natural body functions. Using stem cells to promote healing and relieve pain in an injury is a similar concept.
Thirty-Seven year old Bartolo Colon, a Major league Baseball player for the Yankees has recently undergone surgery to inject stem cells into his pain full elbow and shoulder injury. The treatment has helped him have a record scoring season. As Michael...