Sumary Response Essay
Submitted By kalach48
“An alarming number of sports—baseball, football, track and field, and especially cycling—have been shaken by doping scandals in recent years,” reports Scientific American (Schermer, 2008). The performance enhancing drugs are becoming needed good for some athletes in order to succeed. There is a tremendous clash of ideas, what path we should take in according to these types of drugs. The million-dollar question is to legalize them or not.
In “Good sport, bad sport” published in The Age, Julian Savalescu and Bennett Foddy (2004) argue that the use of performance enhancing drugs should be legalized in sports because it is not “against the spirit of sport.” First of all, the authors introduce the issue of using drugs in sports as something that has been around for a long period of time, even in the Ancient Olympics. Savalescu and Foddy then explain that the elimination of drug use in sports is failing. They say the athletes’ desire to win is a lot of times stronger than staying clean. In addition, Savalescu and Foddy argue that performance enhancing drugs do not doubt the spirit of sport. In their view, making human biology more effective symbolizes the human spirit. They say that sports are about striving to be better, and drugs allow athletes to do that. Savalescu and Foddy also claim that sports today are aimed against people without genetic predispositions to be the best, and so taking drugs would equalize people with different genetic predispositions. In their opinion, the process to give everyone the same starting point would combine genetics, hard work and performance enhancing drugs.
Next, Savalescu and Foddy (2004) discuss the use of EPO in sports. EPO is a natural hormone that fires up creation of red blood cell in blood, raising the haematocrit (HCT). HCT can be explained as the percentage of red blood cells is in the blood. There have been multiple cases in cycling when athletes used EPO. In order to able to detect illegal use of EPO, the cycling union requires all their athletes to maintain their HCT below 50 percent. Authors’ next point is that safety should be the only limit of drug use in sports. Authorities in charge of doping rules should set safe limits for HCT and everyone above acceptable level couldn’t compete. Safety in sports should be taken very seriously because a lot of athletes are willing to risk their health to be successful in competition. Authors conclude that rather than closing eyes, we should admit the drug use in sports in 21st century because to be better is the spirit of sport. Although Savalescu and Foddy try to make a case for their idea to embrace use of performance enhancing drugs, they failed in changing the intended audience’s view of the topic and I disagree with their arguments that the use of performance enhancing drugs is not against the spirit of sport, the attempts to eliminate drugs from sports failed, and the concluding idea that people in charge should embrace performance enhancing drugs.
Even though I believe the use of performance enhancing drugs is a big deal in sports, the authors evidence fail to change the audience’s view of the topic. I see two types of possible problems why the authors do not succeed in changing audience’s view of the topic. First of all, they use evidence that is not really trustworthy. For example, Savalescu and Foddy (2004) cite Dutch physician Michel Karsten, who claims that “if you are especially gifted, you may win once, but from my experience you can't continue to win without drugs. The field is just too filled with drug users.” People who make the drug testing rules can not be possibly convinced by someone who claims about himself that he was doping up hundreds of the top level athletes. It would be like listening to a criminal to change the law. It just seems very unreliable. Second of all, authors fail to use evidence that can be considered as a mind blowing even though that is exactly what is needed to change the intended audience’s view of topic. They use old cases of using drugs even though they talk about 21st century Olympics. For example, they use the case of Finnish skier Eoro Maentyranta. That happened in 1964 and the article is from 2004. It is forty-year-old evidence that majority of the intended audience can’t possibly remember. It seems quite ridiculous to change somebody’s mind by using evidence that occurred almost half a century ago. The use of not trustworthy and not up-to-date evidence cause Savulescu and Foddy’s inability to change the audience’s view of the topic.
It is not possible to agree with Savulescu and Foddy that use of performance enhancing drugs in sports is not against the “spirit of sport.” To make this thing clear, I should define the real spirit of sport. As described by the World Anti Doping Agency, “It is the essence of Olympism; it is how we play true. The spirit of sport is the celebration of the human spirit, body and mind” (as cited in ProCon.org, 2010). There is one cure word that needs to be understood clearly; that is human. The definition of the word human in Merriam Webster Dictionary is “representative of the sympathies and frailties of human nature” (“Human,” 2010). There is no additional reference about using something unnatural that makes performance better. I’m not making a generalization that drugs make the body unnatural, but it is clear they make it unnatural in the sense of the spirit of sport. In fact, there is another side of sports that Savalescu and Foddy don’t want people to see. As Gary Wadler, MD, Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency says, “Sport is a contest in character, not in chemistry or pharmacology” (as cited in ProCon.org, 2010). Society as a whole can not let scientists decide who is going to be the best. Then it would be about not who is necessarily the best, but who uses the best drugs. The beauty and spirit of sport is that athletes compete not off, but on the court. Even though there are a lot of side effects that affect athletes’ performance, performance-enhancing drugs cannot become one of them. In my point of view, this is the status quo that should remain and that is why I believe the use of performance enhancing drugs is against the spirit of sport.
Savalescu and Foddy claim that attempts to eliminate drugs from sports have failed, but they are clearly missing the point. The whole point is that drug testing and catching athletes who use now banned substances will discourage others from making the same mistake. If more athletes get caught, more athletes will be discouraged from using performance-enhancement drugs. Savalescu and Foddy (2004) claim, “It barely raises an eyebrow now when some famous athlete fails a dope test.” It is not true because when some famous athlete gets caught it is all over TV, Internet, radio all the other print media. I remember, for example, when the famous American female sprinter Marion Jones got caught. That was a big deal and the world was talking about at least for a week straight and that was only until she told the truth. She had to give back all the medals she won at Olympics. Elimination of performance enhancing drugs is a never-ending process because there will always be a small percentage of athletes who will do it anyway. However, World Anti Doping Agency is serving its purpose well and therefore I believe elimination of performance enhancing drugs has not failed.
Finally, although I agree with Savalescu and Foddy that there are two choices to make in the 21st century about performance enhancing drugs in sport, I disagree with their choice. The offered choices are either fall back and clean up sports or legalize use of performance enhancing drugs in sports. My choice would be to keep working on cleaning up sports from individuals who violate the anti-doping laws. There are two reasons for that. First of all, as a basketball player and a beginning basketball coach, I believe using performance-enhancing drugs is basically cheating. Athletes who decide to do so benefit from using something that is banned to use to get better results, or improve their performance. I think it is unfortunate and I’m actually surprised that Julian Savalescu, who is a professor at Oxford University, suggests cheating as an option. University professor, who has to deal daily with cheating in classroom, should be against any form of cheating and not the other way around. Secondly, in my point of view, using performance-enhancing drugs also has a psychological effect. Commonly accepting such a behavior sends a very bad signal to the whole society, especially young people. It would encourage them to use short cuts to success. Nowadays, it is important to really set the right examples for the youth, so they won’t get confused and will not take using of performance enhancing drugs as an essential and conceptual thing. Those are the two reasons why I support cleaning up sports from performance enhancing substances rather than embracing them.
The argument offered by Savalescu and Foddy that performance-enhancing drugs should be allowed in sports fails. The evidence used in the article doesn’t change the view of the intended audience. It is not trustworthy and up-to-date. Next, allowing the use of drugs in sports is against the spirit of sport. Savalescu and Foddy are also off the point if they think eliminating drugs has failed, and lastly I disagree with the concluding part that from choosing either to clean up sports or legalize performance-enhancing drugs, we should the second option. The choice of some sort of “cyber” Olympics can’t possibly beat an old-fashioned “human” Olympics.
Foddy, B., & Savalescu, J. (2004). It's too late to stop an Olympics fuelled on drugs, so why not view drug use as a way to even nature's odds? The Age. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/08/02/1091432108050.html
Human. (2010). In Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved from http:// www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/human
ProCon.org. (2010, January 18). Should performance enhancing drugs (such as steroids) be used in sports? Retrieved from http://sportsanddrugs.procon.org/view.answers .php?questionID=1200
Schermer, M. (2008, April). The doping dilemma. Scientific American, 4. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-doping-dilemma