The use of banned drugs that boost performance amongst athletes is referred to as Doping. In the recent past cases of doping in sports has risen to alarming levels. This has led to open ended debates that are not offering a solution to the problem. I call it a problem in respect to the code of ethics in sports. A sportsman should be guided by this ethics in order to be fair and competitive. The question that redirects in our minds when doping is mentioned is whether it should be legalized or illegalized in sports. Why should be doping be illegalized? Why should doping be legalized? Is there a way or is there a possibility of incorporating doping in sportsman ship and still be within the framework of the code of ethics put in place to govern sports? These questions have been subject to debate across the globe. Athletic bodies such as the NFL, the IOC, the NBA, the WADA, the MLB, the NCAA and the NAIA have found themselves entangled in this growing maze of doping. Discussing the problem (doping) in a detailed philosophical manner may shed a little light on really what to expect results of these unending debate (Angelo 42).
As the world of athletes stands today, doping is considered an offence. The “spirit of sports” should be a celebration of the human body, spirit and the mind. It should be characterized by values of fair play, ethics, and honesty; health, excellence in performance, education and character; fun and joy; teamwork, commitment and dedication; respect for laws and rules of the sport; respect for self and fellow participants; courage; solidarity and community (World Anti-Doping Agency). Putting these values in consideration, it would be inevitable for the masses to conclude that in deed doping should be banned. The reason would be that doping literary is contrast to all of the above values. Why would they be so quick to conclude that it is contrast to the values set?
One globally known incident of doping that can probably be applied in this discussion is the doping case involving Lance Armstrong. Lance is undoubtedly one of the most successful roads racing cyclist professional in the world. He was born in 18th September 1974 and went on to win seven consecutive competitive races. This fate was achieved in the year 1999 to 2005. Lance was a darling to the Americans; he was an athlete that the young cyclist would look at as a role model. America was proud of him. The races he was involved in were lively and exciting. The lovers of cycling would come out in numbers to cheer and watch one who was to go down as a Legend in history books race and win. However, the glory of winning seven consecutive competitive championships that was supposed to forever paint him as a hero in the cycling sports was not to last forever. In 2012, one of the most incredible and unbelievable declaration was made. It was revealed to the world that Lance, “their darling athlete” had been suspected of doping. This came as a shock to his fans who all along had admired his zeal in the races as he cruised to victory. He was stripped of the seven victories in the same year. Just as the fans thought that the penalty of being stripped of the victories was enough another worse thing happened. Lance Armstrong was slapped a lifetime ban from competitive cycling. This sounds unbelievably painful, right? The fans would feel the effect of these punishments. What about Lance? What about his family? What would happen to his health? What would happen to his career?
The above scandal of Lance can be subject to discussion from different angles. First of all, was it fair to strip his victories of and ban him from competitive cycling for the rest of his life? In adherence to sportsmanship values, the involved body was rightfully undertaking its mandate. Doping boosts or enhances the performance of the athlete. Since Lance had been found guilty to doping, it means that he was not offering fair competition in the races. He was not showing character and he had disrespected the set rules and laws of the sport that prohibit doping. This is not in accordance to the code of ethics of sports and therefore it was right to punish him. Was it right then to strip him off the victories? There being no any other sport that he was involved in, then striping of these victories and awarding the rightful owner was one noble idea. However, that is from one side of the judgement.
Jan Boxill argues that cooperation and competition complementary.” The emphasis of not defeating the opponent, but of striving for excellence, even if it requires that competitors strive to win is applicable in genuine competition”- Jan Boxill. She adds that “Sometimes one “lose” and sometime one can “win”, but in pursuit of excellence nobody really loses’ (Boxill). The desire to become what one is potentially ready to become lies in the pursuit of excellence ( Boxill). From these philosophical thought of Boxill, critics can argue that Lance did not wrong anyone. It was his desire to become great. Whatever means he used to achieve that is all up to him so long as he did not hurt or harm anyone. However, the concept of not causing harm can be strongly contested. The competitor who lost to him suffered emotionally. It is human for a person not to accept defeat easily. The competitors suffered emotionally due to the loss. Emotional breakdown is also harm equivalent to physical harm that supposedly the people supporting his case would quote in such an argument. This scenario can further be elaborated by the concept of life. We all live but some people live better. Life is like a competition whereby each human being is free to use any method that he/she finds suitable to survive. Therefore in the case of Lance and doping in general they should be more lenient if this concept is put into practice.
The issue of doping is a vice that will keep on affecting sports across the globe unless something concrete is done about it. A concrete decision needs to be proposed in order to shed light on the best way to deal with doping. So long as science is evolving every day, this means that more dubious methods of doping are been invented in order to avoid the drag net of the anti-doping agencies. From a societal view, doping is considered a moral problem. It is nor different to drug abuse in the eyes of the society. It is a violation of humanity (Buchanan 23). This ideology of the society has been challenges by Allen Buchanan who feels that it is not a good reason enough to forgo the enhancement just because it will destroy or alter the nature of human. She is adamant that human nature to and reasoning should be subject to change and accommodate the idea as positive.
From the above ideologies in the discussion, it is clear that this may be a never ending debate. The thought of legalizing what cannot be controlled may cross everyone’s mind but in my own opinion I can categorically state that doping is bad and should be illegal. There should be stiff penalties for all culprits of doping. Athletes should achieve their desires of success depending upon their natural energies and personal hard work and not boosting themselves with substances.
Angelo Corlett, J., Vincent Brown Jr, and Kiersten Kirkland. “Coping with doping.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 40.1 (2013): 41-64.
BOXILL, J. 2003. The ethics of competition. In Sports ethics, ed. J. Boxill, 107–14. London: Blackwell.
BUCHANAN, A. 2011. Beyond humanity? Oxford: Oxford University Press