A case for DRUGS

I really enjoyed learning about all of different ways to optimize performance this week. I especially liked getting into the ethics of what was ok and what wasn’t. Coincidentally, a couple weeks ago, after the Lance Armstrong bust hit the media, my friends were debating the very ethics that we’ve been discussing in class. What makes one advantage ethical and another not? Does it come down to health risk? Is it ok if we’re born with such an advantage like Caster Semenya?

Though I have never taken any performance enhancing drugs past a vitamin D supplement or Tylenol, I honestly think that they are kind of cool. I don’t mean to condone the use of them in the Olympics to beat out natural competitors. Ethically, under the premise of the Olympic games, that is wrong. What I am trying to draw attention to is how cool it is that humans have isolated various means of pushing their bodies past the natural limit. Maybe it isn’t safe, but there is something to be said for the thrill at moving at speeds faster than any other human, faster than humans should be able to move. Its super-human.

`           It would be interesting to see even informal competitions where people were allowed to use whatever method of performance enhancement they choose, be it EPO, or amphetamines or whatever. People do dangerous things all the time that put their life at risk or decrease their life span. Cliff jumping, for example strikes me as a one such sport – very cool but very dangerous. I saw an IMAX documentary this year, which claimed that one in three cliff jumpers die on a jump. Personally, as someone who would prefer to live long and healthy I do not wish to engage in such activities, but as a scientist interested in human limits I think it is intellectually fascinating.

Who gets to draw the ethical line anyways? Caffeine is ok, but Coke isn’t – except it is, just not where we live. I realize at this point I may sound like a high-risk druggy. That’s fine. I just want to play devil’s advocate and highlight some of the enticing aspects of banned practices or substances. Scientifically and philosophically it is an interesting concept to kick around.

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2 Responses to A case for DRUGS

  1. PumpingIron PumpingIron says:

    I definitely agree with your point about humans doing much more dangerous activities than taking steroids. I can rationalize the argument that as long as people are willing to accept the risks and dangers associated with taking steroids, they could be allowed to take them. However, I don’t think this argument holds up if you take into account taking steroids has potential negative effects on other people. It has been documented that roid rage can lead to abusive relationships. Once the actions of a single person start affecting others, I believe you can’t ethically give one person the option of taking steroids. If you do want to see the full potential of long-term steroid use, it is actually fairly easy to see in professional sports. For example, look at professional bodybuilding. Each year, the competitors get bigger and bigger even as they age into their upper 30s. Professional bodybuilders today obviously take steroids (they have even admitted to it on tape), but profitability in the sport is so driven off of people wanting to see “larger than life” individuals that the organization does not enforce a strict ban on illegal substances.

  2. Paleogirl Paleogirl says:

    I found myself wondering the exact same thing during lecture today. I thought, too, about potentially having competitions where athletes could use whatever supplements they wanted to see who could beat out their competitors. After all, natural selection codes us as humans to strive to be more successful than all others. If athlete X develops a performance enhancing drug and uses it to be better than others, isn’t that much like developing adaptations in the wild? What ethically differentiates using drugs to beat out competitors over using an adaptation like our ancestors, and even other animals use to ensure dominance? I also want to put in the disclaimer you put in; I don’t use or advocate use of any illegal performance enhancing drugs! It’s just an interesting subject to discuss

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