A critical look at the ethics involved with drug use in sport

Another important study indicated that body dissatisfaction, weight change behaviours, and supplement use are related to more lenient attitudes towards sport doping in adolescents [ 23 ].

In light of the limitations associated with ZT-based policy, we propose an alternative policy, one based on controlled use and harm reduction principles. Sports Med. Doping prevalence may be even higher in serious recreational and fitness sports [ 7 ], while usage by adolescents appears to be growing [ 8 ].

Yes, it does matter, because punitively driven deterrence does not work, especially when the motivation for substance use comes from the pursuit of superior performance. The result was the creation of anabolic steroids.

Rather, the contextual complexities associated with drug use in sport make its management problematic.

performance enhancing drugs in sports

Instead, drug use in sport constitutes a serious social issue [ 38 ]. Anabolic steroids were used legally to treat a limited number of medical conditions that cause a degeneration of muscle tissue such as AIDS and certain cancers.

Conversely, some evidence indicates that harm reduction polices providing education, private support, and rehabilitation, lower the social costs and cultural damage associated with substance use [ 41 ].

Drug use in sports statistics

Yet, studies reveal that athletes binge-drink and use recreational drugs to alleviate the pressure accumulated from demanding seasons of abstinence and stress [ 33 ]. Sports Med. Studies have also revealed that it is possible for athletes to successfully use micro-dosing strategies in order to pass tests [ 28 ]. In light of the limitations associated with ZT-based policy, we propose an alternative policy, one based on controlled use and harm reduction principles. The prevailing policy is orchestrated by powerful global-sport authorities like the International Olympic Committee IOC , the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA , and international sport federations, which claim that drug use is cheating and should be eliminated through the imposition of severe punishments. Anabolic steroids were used legally to treat a limited number of medical conditions that cause a degeneration of muscle tissue such as AIDS and certain cancers. The frequency of doping in elite sport: results of a replication study. First, drug use is not just a sporting matter nor is it a criminal or legal matter. One proposed solution to the doping problem involves even more rigorous testing protocols. Instead, it focuses on building structures and systems that deliver a number of harm reduction outcomes including for example: 1 the creation of a playing environment where safety and effective harm management are strategic priorities; 2 a drug supply and distribution system that is regulated through the direct involvement of physicians and pharmacists; 3 the design of promotional campaigns that educate athletes about the risks associated with various substances; 4 the early intervention of medical support where damage to oneself or to others has occurred through some form of drug use; 5 the availability of broad-based drug rehabilitation and counselling services that allow athletes to remediate their high risk behaviours; and 6 a transparent listing or register of the drugs used by all sporting bodies and athletes. According to the code, the spirit-of-sport encapsulates the ideals of Olympism, the celebration of the human spirit, fun, and joy, courage, teamwork, excellence in performance, respect for the rules and other participants, dedication and commitment, character and education, community and solidarity, ethics, fair play, and honesty. In this context, regulation becomes useful only in so far as it lessens the potential harm of participants. A cursory look at mainstream drug use statistics shows that drug use is not an aberrant behaviour confined to a problematic subculture of deviants and misfits [ 34 ]. Favourable views about substance efficacy and appropriateness are likely to undermine effective regulation by normalising their use [ 18 , 19 ].

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The Ethics of Performance