Integrity Matters
March 17, 2004

Drug abuse in sports threatens a crackdown

Question: (E-105)

Dear Jim:

Why is it bad to take drugs that make you stronger?


Taking drugs -- for their intended purpose and in prescribed amounts -- to speed a return to health can be a very a good thing. In turn, regained health often brings greater strength and improved coordination. But health-improving drugs are intended to restore vitality, not merely enhance brute strength.

Patients and physicians have long known the trade-off: A disease may be controlled or even cured with well-understood and often minimal chemical risk to overall health. However, some shrewd and even shady individuals have found ways to use drugs in other ways. They promote and provide performance-enhancing substances that cause muscles to grow faster and larger than otherwise possible. These drugs enable talented athletes to pursue seemingly super-human feats: running faster, jumping farther, hitting and throwing greater distances. And why? Fans have shown they will happily pay well for the privilege of seeing incredible feats.

But pushing the body this way often poses substantial risks to future health. It also works against the majority of athletes who don't engage in biological or chemical stimulation.

When the motivation for performance-enhancing drug use is greed, even with the known health risks, then something is very wrong with the people and institutions who are failing to do something about it. Performance-enhancing drug abuse damages sports and undermines society -- not to mention shortening the careers and even the lives of athletes who partake.

So is it bad to take drugs to make one perform better in athletics, the place where fair play is supposedly paramount? Of course. Medical knowledge, used properly, is for the good of humankind. But when drugs are misused and unregulated within a sport, the sport itself becomes corrupted.

When owners, agents and players don't stand up with integrity to police themselves, outside controls are inevitable.

Citizens, the fans, eventually will turn to government to force regulation -- if for no other reason than to maintain a level playing field and protect the health and integrity of athletes.

Home Page | About Us | Ask Bracher | Services | Resources | Contact Us

©Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership. All Rights Reserved.
1400 Munras Avenue ~ Monterey, California 93940