Competition has been a part of humanity for as long as humans can remember. Through the history books we have found evidence of athletic competition, beginning with the Greeks, who competed against each other for the pursuit of excellence. The Greeks, in order to become close to the gods, would do everything in their power to in order to win. They believed that the sweat from the athletes held medicinal power and was sold to the genera public. They put so much value in athletic competition that losing would be a symbolic death. Losing was highly frowned upon. The Greeks was also known to eat foods that were though to help them win. This value of competitiveness, one would argue is innate. It is human nature to want to compete against one another, to establish dominance, and to display athletic prowess in order to attract others. This potency for athletic excellence, or agon, as the Greeks called it has not waned in its potency throughout the decades. The Romans Empire as well as the British Empire continued the tradition of athleticism to modern day sports and games.
Although modern day sports are not martial or religious, the pursuit of excellence still holds true. Today’s athletes compete for different reasons but the nature of competitions are very much the same. Todays, participants contend for fame, fortune, records, and quantification but all have the same desire to win. This desire to win is not modern, as we have discussed above with the Greeks. This desire to win is a very powerful factor and has much force behind the drive. The athletes of ancient Greece would do everything within their power to win, because winning is everything and losing brings ultimate shame not only to the athletes but his hometown and family as well. In order to help them win, Greeks would eat foods that they thought would help them win. They knew about resistance training and at the time they were looking for anything at all to help them gain a competitive edge. If this sounds familiar it is because it still happens today.
Today’s athletes are arguably much stronger, faster, and agile compared to the athletes of ancient Olympia. Competitors today, thanks to the Greeks, know how to train their bodies to unprecedented heights. Since the beginning of the scientific revolution in Great Britain, the knowledge humanity has gained from the human body is astounding. Coaches and trainers today know so much more information about how to train an athlete that Greeks did not know about in the past. Contenders today have the best equipment, such as altitude chambers that simulate oxygen levels at high altitudes, statistical measurement machines to show strengths and weaknesses, and so much more technology to help them excel in sports and competition. But what happens when hard work, diet, training and dedication is not enough?
History has an unusual way of revealing its past. Athletes in modern time, too, look for aid to gain the competitive edge over their opponents. The competition today is at the highest level and the road to being number one is an arduous task. Players will push the boundaries of what is legal in order to distinguish themselves from their opponents. When hard work and dedication is not enough people will look for ways to improve their athleticism. One of the ways competitors have done this is through the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Performance enhancing drugs is currently deemed illegal by the World Anti-Doping Agency. These illegal substances, such as steroids and growth hormones, can increase a persons muscle mass, strength, speed, and agility in ways training alone cannot. These drugs allow an elite athlete to transcend to a level that is not possible without the illegal substance. WADA disapproves of such chemicals because it takes away from the spirit of the sport. Contenders that use illegal remedies to gain an advantage create an environment that is unfair and unequal to both the athletes and the fans.
In present competition equality is a big issue, equality in competitiveness and in the environment. Although bureaucracies test athletes for drugs, procedures to detect foreign chemicals are not one hundred percent effective. Players may slip through loopholes and continue to dope. But what about the majority of the players that do follow the rules and train as hard as humanly possible to reach the level they are in? These athletes are at a huge disadvantage because it is highly unlikely that they can keep up with someone that is doping. It takes harder work and requires disproportionately more time to build the body needed to outshine rivals. Furthermore, dopers would recover significantly faster from muscle tears while non-users are still healing. This would mean that users would continue to widen the gap between enhancement drug users and honest athletes. As this gap widens it becomes increasingly harder for others to catch up without using the drugs themselves.
Enhancement drugs also create an unfair environment for the fans. Sports is one if the biggest American pastimes in the world. It is also a business that builds huge revenues and therefore it is natural that gambling takes place in the context of competition. A fan that is betting on his/her favorite team against a team, which contracted an athlete that is using drugs, could lose the bet because there is an unfair playing field against the two teams. One team maybe is following the rules while someone in the other team is secretly dropping. If the team that contains the substance-abusing athlete wins, then arguably he has cause someone to lose money and this is not fair because the fan may or may not have known about an enhanced athlete.
Doping not only creates an unfair advantage but it also puts unfair amounts of pressure on other athletes to use. When an athlete is over performing everyone else through the use of enhancements, other athletes will feel like they cannot compete if they do not dope themselves. This is unfair because if the honest competitor remains honest then he/she will feel like he can never catch up and therefore remain in the shadows of more noticeable prominent athletes. The athlete will also lose money as well because the best teams will want the top players. The non-doper therefore will not be chosen as quickly as the enhanced athletes and will have to settle with a lower paying contract. While this may not affect the honest top elite players, as much it will definitely affect the lower tier professionals with greater force.
Some may argue that performance enhancement is not too radical from what athletes already do today. Pro enhancers have said that people already alter their bodies when, for example, they do altitude training in oxygen chambers. The chambers decrease the amount of oxygen and the body starts to produce more red blood cells to carry more oxygen. This is similar to the effect athletes are trying to gain from blood doping but in a different way. While others have aid that people are putting different foods into their bodies in order to get the desired effect. An example of this is carbohydrate loading. Long distance runners load up on carbohydrate generally about a week before a race to retain the most effluence amount of energy available for the run.
These arguments do make some valid arguments but enhancing drugs are still dangerous and there is still much to learn about the long affects. Proponents have answered by suggesting that a medical profession administer the dosage and monitor the athlete so that it is under surveillance, but this will open up a whole new door to medical professionals because their primary job is to increase health.
The question society must ask about sports and competition is what humanity wants. Do people want the sport to be all about smashing records and pushing the limits of the human body? If this is the answer then maybe performance enhancing drugs do have a place in competition, but if the question is about the spirit and ethics of the game where equality is key then enhancements remains illegal. Perhaps WADA should just allow all players to be able to use growth hormones and steroids legally, then the there would be no clear advantage.
As we have seen from the ancient times of the Greeks to modern day athletics, much have not changed. People are still fighting to win and gain the attention of the people. Winning has become so important that competitors are willing to use substances to change their body in order to gain their desired affect. These substances include many types but the most prevalent and common is steroids and growth hormones. These substances are banned by WADA because it takes away from the spirit of the game. It creates an unfair environment where there is a gap that separates honest and dishonest athletes. This gap pressure fellow contenders to use illegal methods in order to stay competitive. It is wrong to use illegal substance because when it comes down to it, its cheating. Cheating is using a method that is now allowed by the rules of competition and according to WADA enhancement drugs are not allowed. Perhaps somewhere in the future these rules may change, but as of this moment they performance drugs are illegal.