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Sport is a very important part of the human culture. Ever since the Olympic Games were introduced in the Ancient Greece, it drew attention of thousands of people. Even though some people may argue that sport does not play any key role in their lives, it does, to some extent, influence their worldview. The major question in sports competitions is how to make them fair. However, there is also a question on whether it must be fair in the first place. Doping and other forms of performance enhancement have recently become the most discussed subject, as people try to define whether or not it is ethical to use them.
Competition vs. Recreation
Robert Simon (2015) is telling a story in the beginning of his book about the sports argument he had with a group of people (p.1). He claimed that the primary goal in sport is winning, while everyone else insisted it was leisure. The argument is popular among many groups of people. In fact, this is a question of philosophy. If sport is all about winning a race, it implies that the participation of athletes who do not reach the top positions is meaningless. Many athletes join competitions not for the medals but for the mere process. Many sports disciplines require a person to train from a very young age and competitions are the source of understanding how well the body answers to the pressure. All people are physically different and this fact alone puts them into more or less advantaged positions to each other. However, this does not mean that they should lose interest in a race if they see another athlete who is more physically fit.
Yet, if winning is not important, then there is no purpose of competing. Regarding sports as pure leisure downgrades the amount of work done by athletes to reach the particular physical state and skills. The popular perception of sports as leisure comes from games like football or baseball, where the individual input is not so highly valued as the teamwork. Nevertheless, winning is always expected. Thus, some athletes, coaches, and whole teams sometimes search the ways to get the victory by any means.
Since sport is a physical activity, various performance enhancement tactics are targeted at making changes to the body. However, not all means of doing this are legal. One of the most popular, yet prohibited, ways to boost the sports results is doping. It is the chemical substance that is injected in a body, which makes the short-term changes to the person’s hormonal level and state of mind. The practice of doping usage is officially prohibited by all the international sports committees. It is easy to understand why it is so frowned upon. Various body types respond differently to drugs and other medicine. Thus, even if two people use the same doping, they would likely get the different results. Besides, performing under any kind of medicine does not allow to tell that the final score is a result of a hard work.
However, there is a list of medicine that can be used during competitions. It mostly concerns various medical states like illness that would not let an athlete perform on the top of his or her possibilities. Shogan (2007) mentions several heath issues that professional athletes often experience as the result of their exercising (p.124). However, nobody asks the question whether such harm is justified. Probably, sport is an industry that damages the body despite the use of doping.
Sports competitions very often mean big money. Team owners are interested in victories as their revenues depend directly on them. It is easy to assume that they do ot mind if their athletes use doping. Moreover, if the matter concerns the international competitions, things like the national pride or disappointment play a key role in the society’s perception of sport.
This year’s Olympic Games in Rio started with a scandal. The World Anti-Doping Agency passed out the report where it described the results of investigation of the doping usage by Russian athletes (Gibson, 2015). This report became a reason for the International Association of Athletics Federation to suspend almost the whole Russian team from the participation in the Olympics. However, in 2016 the group of hackers received the information that WADA had practiced the prescription of medicine to American athletes which could potentially be considered as doping (Ingle, 2016). This situation is an excellent example that rules are followed only when it benefits the influential people who possess the power.
There is no doubt that doping undermines the idea of fair play. It does not allow to judge the real performance of athletes that is a direct result of their hard work. The international committees are doing the right job by revealing the cases of doping usage. However, the current system has its drawbacks, as there is evidence of using the official reports for achieving certain political interests. The international society should improve this system to ensure that sport stays both entertaining and competitive.
Gibson, O. (2015). Russia accused of ‘state-sponsored doping’ as Wada calls for athletics ban. The Guardian. Web.
Ingle, S. (2016). Wada cyber attack: Williams sisters and Simone Biles targeted by Russian group. The Guardian. Web.
Shogan, D. (2007). Sport ethics in context. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.
Simon, R. L., Torres, C. R., & Hager, P. F. (2015). Fair play: The ethics of sport. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.