Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Should Olympic athletes be allowed to use performance-enhancing drugs?

By Michael Cook

Some bioethicists are arguing that athletes should be allowed to take performance-enhancing drugs.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The London Olympics have arrived and with them come familiar controversies over drug cheats. IOC President Jacques Rogge said yesterday that tests had identified more than 100 cheats in the lead-up to the Games. Years of tough restrictions appear to be bearing fruit, with fewer scandals every time the Olympics are held. In Athens in 2004 26 athletes were caught; in Beijing in 2008, only 14 athletes and 6 horses.

However, this may mean that athletes are just outsmarting the IOC. The 1980 Games in Moscow have been called the Chemist's Games because so many athletes were apparently using drugs -- but no one was actually nabbed.

Is it worth the effort? This is a question that involves bioethics and as usual, there are fierce controversies. The Bush Administration's bioethics commission produced a document which took a very dim view of drugs in sport.

"they are, despite their higher scores and faster times, bad or diminished as sportsmen-not simply because they cheated their opponents, but because they also cheated, undermined, or corrupted themselves and the very athletic activity in which they seem to excel."

However, it is bioethicists who endorse the use of drugs in sports who are in the headlines this week.

"If the goal is to protect health, then medically supervised doping is likely to be a better route," says Andy Miah, a...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Source: bioedge.org