March 17, 2004
abuse in sports threatens a crackdown
Why is it bad to take drugs that make
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
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
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
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.