An Ethical Analysis of the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sport Essay Example

Ethical Analysis of the use of performance enhancement drugs in sports 12

Ethical Analysis of the use of performance enhancement drugs in sports


Performance-enhancing drugs (PED) are elements that are usually used by sportspersons to increase their performance in sports. This term might also be used while referring to any drug that is used by the military personnel with the motive of enhancing combat performances.Though the idiom performance-enhancing drugs is commonly used while referring to the anabolic steroids or their precursors (thus the colloquial word «steroids»), global anti-doping administrations applies this term largely (Drugfreesport, 2013).

The concept of using performance enhancing drugs in sports is prohibited in almost all nations and even several ethical theories support this opinion. These theories include: Utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, Rawls’ theory of Justice, Rights and Normative ethical relativism. The performance enhancement drugs have several consequences and thus not suitable for use in sports.

According to Yesalis (2007), there are some common applications of performance enhancement drugs.

  1. Lean mass builders

They drive or intensify the development of muscles and lean body masses. They are also used in the reduction of body fat. They could also aid in reducing the duration of time the athletes recover from their injuries

  1. Stimulants

They improve the cognitive and athletic performances by improving the focus, energy, metabolic rates, and the degree of aggressiveness, and also lessening perceived exertion. Stimulants comprise of caffeine,
methamphetamine, amphetamine and ephedrine. Some drugs like Caffeine are regarded as a performance enhancement drug by some athletic bodies whereas others don’t.

  1. Painkillers 

.narcotics) to the potent prescription ibuprofen (like NSAIDs drugs like the over-the-counter. Painkillers applied in athletics vary from the usual muscle cells, then increases the oxygen supplied to the blood pressureThey facilitate the athletes’ performances past the normal pain threshold. Particular painkillers raise the

  1. Blood boosters

 is one of the much widely-known medications in this classification.EPOThey raise the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood past the sportsperson’s natural capacity. They are applicable in enduring sports like the long-distance races, cyclists, and Nordic skiing. 

  1. anxiolytics and Sedatives 

 andethanol are usual examples; propranolol and Diazepam whereby there is essence of stable hands and accurate aiming, and also to manage extreme uneasiness or discomfort. archeryThey are occasionally used in sporting like the 
 are sometimes used in sports.cannabis

Why do sportsperson risk their career by taking the illegal PED?

There are significant rewards for the risk since they would have enhanced performances during their careers. These PEDs can increase their chances of winning million dollars, high salaries and endorsement of contracts and thus the sportspeople become celebrities easily.

Although, the steroids bring about significant short-term benefits, the long-term drawbacks and side effects are greater than any good that good perhaps arises from the usage of performance enhancing drugs. PEDs Increase the risk of mood disturbances like the mania and depression. The also increase the risk of psychosis, aggressive actions which might eventually injure oneself or others, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases and cancer and the kidney diseases. There is also increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis B & C as a result of the contamination of the needles. The PEDs also result to the acne, bad breath, reduced sex drive, baldheadedness, water retention, muscle cramps, aching joint. Steroids reduce the immunity of the athletes (Drugfreesport, 2013).

Utilitarianism (act and rule)

Utilitarianism has its basis on the premise that one’s ethical choice, like one’s types of decisions, is also more anxious about the ratio of damage to evil than the complete quantity of pleasure or sadness resulting from the choice made by an individual. Similarly, the decisions that produce greater amount of noble but an equal quantity of harm could be forbidden while favoring the alternatives that produce temperate quantity of pleasure at very minimal cost.

Since steroids have few short-time advantages, they have many long-term disadvantages which make the individual to be disadvantageous to the society. A sportsman who has taken blood booster steroids is likely to win the long-distance races against those who would not be using PEDs. Though the individual would be a winner, the race would have been won unfairly since it would be as a result of cheating. Those using these steroids would be having exaggerated anger outbursts thus making them to be unsocial to the community (Amartya, 2009).

The use of steroids in sports has no religious basis. The utilitarianism bids one to undertake a type of cost-benefit examination and asks one which of the options available to the sportsperson would be producing the best overall consequences. In other words, the use of PEDs is based on selfish motives since the benefits would only be for only one individual and not the society (Amartya, 2009).


This is another theory that states how one should act though it differs with Utilitarianism in the sense that it focused much more on the actual actions and the morality of the respective actions. This theory asserts that in as much as you are acting in a moral manner, then the repercussions of ones actions don’t matter. The immoral actions comprise of cheating and using individuals as ones’ means to the end. Kant could be perceived to be the godfather of the present ‘rational’ western world that is constantly undervaluing instinct. Kantanism advises the society to do what is right irrespective of the consequences of the action (Underwood et al., 2002).

The society perceives that everyone needs equal opportunities in competitions. For instance, the Finnish cross-country skier, Eero Mäntyranta, was established to have had a genetic mutation which made him to have an augmented erythropoietin intensities and greater numbers of oxygen-carrying erythrocytes ( Savulescu et al. 2004). This made him to have an innate advantage over his competitors. some spectators might feel that sporting might lose some of its entertaining significance since all the sportspeople could all be genetically boosted, making all of them less exclusive, and putting off some of the benefits that amount to the exciting plays. Basically, if all the athletes were talented like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan, athletics could be less competitive.

By use of PEDs, human beings are necessarily altering the normal course of evolution, attempting to “play God.” With the application of PEDs, sportspeople would be interfering with the natural selection, and this might unpredictably be harmful to the future human beings and the globe as a whole.

Rawls’ theory of justice

This theory is based on the adaptation of two basic principles that might eventually be guaranteeing a just and morally acceptable community. One of the principles is guaranteeing the right of each individual to be having the most extensive fundamental freedom that is compatible with the freedom of other people. The other concept asserts that social and economic position are to be open and to the advantage of everyone (Thomas, 1973).

Fairness in sportsmanship is complex in the context of biological (dis)advantages. Savulescu et al. (2004) propose that differences in biological and genetic composition of a competitor might result to substantial pros and cons in athletes. They mention the instance of the skier Eero Maentyranta, who was winner of three gold medals in 1964. Eero Maentyranta had a genetic mutation that resulted to the production of 40-50% extra red blood cells than the normal person, a substantial advantage over other competitors in such endurance competitions. While this case is borrowed from the able-bodiedOlympics, it is a demonstration of how particular biological conditions result to an irregular playing field and, therefore, imbalanced sporting conditions.

As doping, for example, is forbidden owed to provide excess advantage in sports in scientific parameters, most of its criticism – as a majority of the critical sporting offenses – corresponding to its basically ethical character; doping 6 is a falsification of the competitions and doesn’t adhere to the sports idea of fairness. Another instance is boosting, an exercise whereby the athletes who have spinal injuries deliberately harm themselves (like by use of tight leg straps) so as to enhance blood pressure and eventually increasing performances. The boosting and doping are regarded by the IPC to be unlawful performance-enhancing skills which aren’t upholding the ‘spirit of sport’ (World Anti-Doping Agency, 2009).

Rights theory

The rights under this ethical theory, which are upheld by the society, have optimum protection and priority. The rights are perceived to be morally correct and binding because a large or the dominant population approves them. People might also present rights on others when they have the capability and resources for doing so.

et al. (2009), most of alcohol drinkers could want bottles of beer or glasses of wine for no malicious motives. But in doping, the main objective of the users is getting the edge on their rivals, consuming much more than their rivals. In case some of the athletes were to take PEDs according to some suitable medical direction then others won’t. They would look for those doctors who would be willing to give them some mega-doses or risky medication so as to get an edge over their counterparts. There is no temperance here, since one would be going from the top-up to a health risk within a short duration of time.AdlerAccording to

It is also worth noting that any banned substance is banned for a reason. Whenever a sportsperson takes growth hormone, consumes sufficient to change the performances and one might consume plentiful to result to some medical concerns, like the heightening of the risks of cancer or heart diseases.
There is also a real thought as a drug like the blood-boosting EPO doesn’t just exist for sports usage. The doctors can’t recommend them except whenever the patients are sick and even when the sport permitted the usage of these steroids; wider community is presently regulating pharmaceuticals more than nearly any of other products.
Also could one like to be a pro if consuming drugs was part of becoming expert? Could this not facilitate any amateurs to be imitating it? For a second time it, this doesn’t appear to be a very encouraging view
(Etzioni, 1996).

Normative ethical relativism

According to Rorty (1982), this theory asserts that there isn’t any unanimously valid moral principle. The theory puts forth that the ethical rightness and wrongness differ from one society to another and that there exist no absolute universal ethical principles that bind everybody at all times. This theory has a claim that everyone’s reasoning regarding the universal standards that bind everyone at all times. The theory asserts that everybody has reasoning regarding the basic principles which is often relative. All the cultures establish the fundamental values and standards that would be serving as the basis for ethics.

In regard to the technology, the effect of the relativist theory is that any effective performance method with the aim of realizing prestige and /or profit is an acceptable means. Therefore, some societies would have a perception that steroids are not illegal and should be used whereas other societies feel that the Steroid usage contravene morality. For example, when Beijing Games Chinese sports authorities hosted the competition, they had to implement rigid anti-doping schemes so as to have “clean” performances. The host nation felt that a positive doping test could be shameful to the nation. Contrary, the Spitzer’s (29) dramatic versions of the DDR doping systems demonstrate: when the doping is an effective hidden method to promote a universal recognition, the relativist theories doesn’t offer any reservation (Sigmud, 2009).

Rorty (1982) reports that, the ethical normative relativism, has a little contribution to the query of possibilities of differentiating rationally between the no-acceptable, acceptable and the treasured sport technology.

According to the NCAA (2014), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was founded in 1999 with the aim of promoting, coordinating and monitoring the fight against the use of steroids in sports. Since there is a combination of rivalry and instructions of engagements in sports, there are some competitors who look for some biased competitive advantages over their rivals, and this comprises of the application of doping. Since 1999, Drug Free Sport has been administering the testing of drugs in all NCAA games, with year-round (plus summer) and the tournaments drug testing (Sigmud, 2009).

In conclusion, it is ethically wrong for any person involved in any contest to have an unfair advantage over others. The ethical theories have reacted on this by asserting that the use of performance enhancement drugs is not only unethical but also hazardous to the health of the sportspeople. It is for this reason that there are serious anti-doping schemes in the championships so as to ensure that the winners win fairly.

Reference List

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Amartya, S. 2009. The Idea of Justice. Belknap Press (Harvard University Press). pp. 52–74.

Arrow.1973. Some Ordinalist-Utilitarian Notes on Rawls’ Theory of Justice. Journal of Philosophy 70, pp. 245-263

Drugfreesport. 2013. Perfromance enhancement drugs., 28 April

Etzioni, A. 1996. The new golden rule: Community and morality in a democratic

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NCAA. 2014. NCAA Doping.
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Rorty, R. 1982. Consequences of Pragmatism, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

Savulescu, J., Foddy, B. and Clayton, M. 2004. Why we should allow performance enhancing drugs in sport. British Medical Journal 38(6), pp. 666-670.

Sigmud L. 2009. The Ethics of performance-enhancing technology in sport. Journal of the philosophy of sport.

Thomas N. 1973. Rawls on Justice. The Philosophical Review, Vol. 82, No. 2.

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WORLD ANTI-DOPING AGENCY. 2009. World Anti-Doping Code. Canada: World Anti-Doping Agency.

Yesalis, C. 2007. 12. Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics