DOPED OR DUPED?


This year, another doping scandal has hit the famous cycling event, the Tour de France. Last year, the superstar Floyd Landis was disgraced when he was accused of doping with testosterone. He initially claimed to have the same problem faced by others like the notorious blogger, Dr. Urs Truly, namely, an un-naturally high level of testosterone that is considered impermissible by society.
Doping is, as all of us know, the taking of prohibited substances that can enhance performances in sports. These include blood, blood producing substance Erythropoietin, anabolic steroids, diuretics, and so many more.
The first recorded case of doping was in the eighth century BC when Ancient Greek Olympians ate Ram’s testicles (ouch!), thereby getting a fix of testosterone, presumably. Through the centuries, countless other cases took place, including the historic dethroning of Canadian Ben Johnson who won the 100m sprints in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Guilty of doping Stanazolol (an anabolic steroid), Johnson was disgraced and replaced by Carl Lewis. And let us not forget that Shane Warne, the legendary Aussie leg spinner lost one year, for doping diuretics.
Why the blog, you wonder?
Because, simply put, I think the world is wrong. I think there is nothing essentially wrong with taking performance-enhancing drugs. In a way, every athlete does try this when he eats loads of proteins and vitamins, which could enhance performance. Anyone can get stimulated by a cup of coffee, for another example. Or feel less pain with a painkiller or a shot of alcohol. There are many agents with potential adverse effects on the consumer’s health that are banned from use. Every sports agency in the world prohibits doping. And every year, great athletes test positive, get disgraced, and fade away, never to be seen or heard again.
What is essentially wrong if performance is enhanced? It may give an unfair advantage to the user, perhaps, though I am not aware of any scientifically conducted trials that prove this. It is, therefore, possible that these drugs are thought to be enhancers, but not actually so. In effect, this means that those great athletes who have been banished from the honor roll of history may not actually have committed any crime at all, beyond breaking a rule. Big effing deal!
Contrary to popular belief, drug intake may actually affect health negatively and cause weakness. Try taking a diuretic, and feel the difference! Left to themselves, once science disproves the notion that additives are of no use, athletes will not use them. Contrarily, once specific drugs are proven to be enhancers, everyone would use them.
There is, in my mind, no other moral locus standi to banning these drugs other than a cry for equal opportunity and egalitarianism, all catchwords for not allowing people to scale the heights possible to mankind. For an interesting article, look here. Look at countries that have sophisticated training centers, psychologists and sports physiologists: don’t their sportsmen do better than Indian and Bangladeshi athletes? Should we bring their preparation down to our level so that there be ‘fair’ competition? When they eat loads of meat and fruits, are the athletes not artificially pumping in iron, proteins, minerals and vitamins? Then why the hypocrisy of disallowing sportsmen from taking drugs that would (at least theoretically) take sports performances to a new level?
Do the top honchos of these Olympic Associations not take Viagra at a big night out (or in)? Why, is that not performance enhancement??
Update (26.07.07): Tour de France leader thrown out

12 responses to “DOPED OR DUPED?

  1. You have the knack of giving a complete different perspective to any issue 🙂

  2. Voracious Blog Reader

    Hi,

    I agree with Sree.

    Jumped here from Sree’s blog about a few days ago. Have read almost all of your write ups.

    Voracious Blog Reader

  3. Hey, thanks, guys!
    Welcome to this blog!!
    🙂

  4. tbv@trustbut.com

    Sadly misinformed on at least two points, however. One, Landis hasn’t been found guilty of anything yet; the decision on his hearing is pending. Two, he didn’t have elevated levels of testosterone at all — they were well within the range of normal. The charge is that some of that normal-range testosterone was synthetic.

    More details at trust but verify.

    TBV

  5. Hey V ! also visit
    http://mahendrap.wordpress.com/2007/07/23/when-will-this-stop/

    Ram’s opinion is very interesting.

  6. tbv@trustbut.com:
    Thanks for your comment. That said, I distinctly recall Landis being quoted last year as saying his testosterone levels were very high. Then somewhere down the line, it came out that he drank alcohol (possibly Jack Daniels, if I am not wrong), and now we hear the reasons have changed.
    He lost his title, has been banned from competing till the final test results are out, and what does the world think? He is ‘guilty’. Great athlete that he is, I have little doubt that he will be disgraced for the same flawed line of thinking that I have commented about.
    However, I will make the necessary corrections right away.

  7. I wanted to comment here, since it became too lengthy I made it as a post in my blog with a link to this one. Thanks for visiting.

  8. Agree with the doc here. I have always wondered why doping was cheating. Is going to the gym cheating? Is eating ginseng and drinking green tea cheating?

  9. Very very interesting perspective.

    A part of the stigma associated with steroids is the negative physical side effects. But i do not know if are a definite characterestic limited to them alone. Besides, much of the noise made nowadays is about “unfair advantage”. But then the boundary between fair and unfair of has been somewhat arbitrarily decided by the current pulse of society and hence is a shifting one.

    And yes it is quite right to ask when/why is something fair vs unfair particularly in a profession like in sports where enhancement of individual achievement always has positive impact and also is glorified – even in team sports.

    I think the long-term effect of a technique/enhancement on one’s physical health could be a good criteria to allow – not in terms of fair vs unfair, but say as a way of discouraging harmful (physical) trend (i would think society has that responsibility at some level). But I suspect even there you run into gray area. I don’t know.

  10. The reason doping is banned is an economic one.

    They want the Olympics to be a world-wide event, and ‘apparently’ a fair-competition one.

    If performance-enhancing drugs were allowed, then it would become an economic race, not an athletic one. The country which spends the most money on research, development, and spending on more and more sophisticated drugs will become a monopoly gold medal winner.

    So, it’s not about health of the athletes, moral/ethical issues, or anything like that.

  11. Mahendra,
    But that is true anyways, isn’t it? The countries which have spent the most money on sports physiology research, infrastructure development, etc. are the ones that excel. And another thing is that, in spite of all the efforts to make sport drug-free, you see repeatedly that top athletes are getting caught every year. I am sure this represents only a fraction of those who break the rules. It is time to ask why people are doing it. Is it possible that the whole issue needs a total re-look? I think so!

  12. Pingback: WHY I WON’T LIVE IN THE US OF A « A Twist of Word and Mind

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