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Performance-Enhancing Drugs Use as Ethical Dilemma Essay

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Updated: Jun 29th, 2021


Ethical dilemmas are an inherent part of every person’s life. People can encounter moral issues while interacting with others and when thinking about their behavior or actions. Christianity offers a plethora of guidelines that help people in seeing the way to navigate these ethical questions. For example, in the field of sports, individuals often encounter high competitiveness and pressure to perform better than they physically can. Thus, some persons may face a dilemma of using of not using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) – an issue that bears both legal and moral implications. According to the basic knowledge of Christianity, the use of PEDs contradicts such notions as fairness, justice, and honesty.

Ethical Dilemma

PEDs are a type of medication that is used to change the body’s response to physical exercise. As a result of consuming any kind of PEDs, a person can increase his/her strength, endurance, and speed (Creado & Reardon, 2016). Moreover, one can reduce pain levels, increase the time of exercising or swimming underwater, and improve stability. However, these effects bare many adverse effects on people’s physical and mental health. Furthermore, the use of many drugs is outlawed in competitive sports because they divide sportspersons according to their natural and enhanced abilities. PEDs may cause the development of addictions, affecting players’ health and future exercising skills. Thus, the consumption of PEDs becomes an ethical dilemma in a sense that it separates one person from another not based on their work but their use of additives (Landy, Walco, & Bartels, 2017). It is a legal dilemma as well because PEDs are outlawed for giving individuals an unfair advantage over others.

Core Beliefs

One of the central ideas in Christianity relates to honesty. “Do not lie” is a core notion that every Christian has to uphold (Leviticus 19:11, New International Version [NIV]). “Do not deceive one another” also pertains to the same issue (Leviticus 19:11, NIV). PEDs are not used by all competing individuals or teams transparently – instead, the fact that a drug is used is always concealed from other performers, judges, and the public. As such medications offer an advantage to the player, their use becomes an action of lying and behaving in a deceitful way. The issue of fairness can also be viewed through the concept of mutual respect. Christian thought states, “do to others as you would have them do to you,” noting that one’s behavior should be based on the recognition of others’ needs and wants (Luke 6:31, NIV). People using PEDs do not take into consideration the training and skills of other people, who most likely worked hard to achieve their results. Therefore, they do not uphold standards of honesty expressed in core Christian beliefs.


Basing his actions on the main ideological notions of Christianity, Paul should refuse the use of PEDs and continue pursuing his goals without any performance changing substances. While his place in the team is in danger because of his refusal to participate in unfair practices, his integrity and honesty make him a trustworthy person. As DiVincenzo (2014) notes, the lack of authenticity is a significant problem in communities, where people struggle to accept their true selves without the need to change themselves for the sake of fulfillment. In the field of sports, this problem is further exacerbated by competition and praise of winners (Landy et al., 2017). Paul should remember that lying is wrong and will not bring him happiness or self-satisfaction. Most importantly, by using PEDs, he will not adhere to the words of the Lord, refusing him as the source of satisfaction. It is also possible for Paul to become vocal about the team’s wrongdoings. His coach’s silence regarding the use of PEDs can be considered as a failure to be honest. Paul should take actions to prevent the team from being untruthful and unjust to others.


As a result of his actions, Paul may encounter a number of problems in his future in sports. His friends may disapprove of his behavior, and the coach may remove the athlete from his position or the team. If Paul loses his place but stays a part of the team, he may receive less time on the field, thus receiving less attention for future scholarships or job offers that he could have otherwise. Furthermore, if he leaves the team, he may not play in a similar setting again, further decreasing his chances for a professional athletic career.

Nevertheless, Paul’s actions can have positive outcomes as well. His integrity and honestly may influence other players and the coach if they listen to his point of view. While the drugs, in this case, are not illegal, their effects clearly indicate how closely they are related to other outlawed PEDs. Thus, his precaution may save the team from being disqualified and criticized. If Paul leaves this team, his honesty may contribute to him becoming a member of another group. Finally, this decision will also protect Paul’s health – as these drugs may not be well-researched, their side effects and impacts on one’s health are now known.


An atheist may interpret this situation in a different way, basing his/her decision on other principles and conclusions. For example, this person may be focused on personal achievements and societal pressure, thus agreeing to use drugs to preserve the place in the team. As Creado and Reardon (2016) point out, many athletes stated that they would use PEDs if they were not caught and won as a result. Thus, it can be assumed that for some people winning is more important than honesty or health. These persons would use the drug in Paul’s case. Other people could be influenced by their friends, fearing exclusion. Here, this behavior can be viewed as idolatry – the opinion of one’s friends being more meaningful than the word of God.

On the other hand, one can also be concerned about his/her health and the effect of PEDs on the body. This individual may still choose not to use medications fearing potentially harmful side effects. In this situation, an athlete would be guided by self-preservation and concern for one’s body. Finally, a person can follow his/her personal moral beliefs and refuse the drugs because they would provide him/her with an unfair advantage.


Christianity is firmly rooted in such ideas as honesty, integrity, and mutual respect. The main notions expressed in commandments show how people should navigate ethical dilemmas. According to Christian beliefs, Paul should refuse to partake in the team’s abuse of PEDs because it offers him and his teammates an unfair advantage over other athletes. Other players should not use PEDs due to the same reasons. “Do not deceive one another” and “do to others as you would have them do to you” should serve as the foundation for people’s opinions on this topic (Leviticus 19:11, NIV; Luke 6:31, NIV). Furthermore, Paul should also address the deception in which other athletes and the coach engage. If an atheist encounters a similar situation, his/her behavior may be based on personal views on health, honesty, and laws. This person may accept or refuse drugs not because of commandments but own perceptions.


Creado, S., & Reardon, C. (2016). The sports psychiatrist and performance-enhancing drugs. International Review of Psychiatry, 28(6), 564-571. Web.

DiVincenzo, A. (Ed.). (2014). The beginning of wisdom: An introduction to Christian thought and life. Phoenix, AZ: Grand Canyon University.

Landy, J. F., Walco, D. K., & Bartels, D. M. (2017). What’s wrong with using steroids? Exploring whether and why people oppose the use of performance enhancing drugs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(3), 377-392. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Performance-Enhancing Drugs Use as Ethical Dilemma." June 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/performance-enhancing-drugs-use-as-ethical-dilemma/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Performance-Enhancing Drugs Use as Ethical Dilemma'. 29 June.

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