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Should We Have Mandatory Drug Testing For Professional Athletes? Research Paper

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Updated: May 30th, 2018


Drug abuse among professional athletes has become a very hotly contested issue since the 1980s. There are a number of celebrated cases that have helped to shift the attention on this topic.

This has been a coincidence with the attitude change in the society concerning drugs as the country shifted from the lax 1970s attitude to the more rigid and conservative attitude of 1980s. The US and the pro-sports agencies across the world reacted by developing drug control program. This succeeded in moving the subject from the headlines to the back pages.


Requiring that professional athletes undergo mandatory drugs test is an unfounded requirement that has not major benefit. This article looks at the drug testing of professionals beginning from the contentious issues raised since the 1980s until the current times. The concern for the enhancement of performance by use of drugs has shifted the efforts from the traditional illicit use of substances.

The advantaged of sports leagues are given the power to test athletes for drugs from a number of bargain accords and the by-laws of certain leagues. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) demands that employers should bargain collectively with the employee over important subjects like the salary and working hours and other terms of employment. Drug testing is one of the terms of employment and athlete unions have in most cases consented to drug testing (Manski, et al., 2001, p. 78).

Literature Review

In the modern society, the economic and intrinsic rewards for extraordinary performance by the athletes have been very great. As a result, there has been considerable. The athletes have seen this as a very big incentive for to increase their performance even more by enhancing it with the use of drugs (Lapchick, 2006, p. 174).

Success on the field or any other performance by athletes is the main objective of being an athlete. It’s purported that virtually all athletes use some form of artificial enhancements to increase their performance (Lapchick, 2006, p. 174).

There are a number of substance and training facilities that are not considered as unfair competition even when they are not available universally to all athletes due to different economic resources (Masteralexis, 2006, p. 776).

Creatine as a muscle building agent is currently not regarded as illegal in sporting therefore it is considered not doping to use it to enhance performance (Manski, et al., 2001, p. 78). However, the use of federally controlled substances like androgenic steroids like the Tetrahydrogestrinone (THC) and other steroid precursors is identified as doping (Showalter, 2007, p. 661).

If it is detected, the culprits are culpable of violation of sporting rules and this is punishable by imposing sanctions. Steroids are in most cases legitimate drugs used to treat muscle wasting problems but in the sporting world, the sports organizations prohibit athletes from using these drugs to boost their performance on the fields (Showalter, 2007, p. 661).

Risk for Serious Sanctions

Many athlete sometimes can risk the use of banned substances to enhance their performance even when they clearly understands that the sports agencies or organizations could seriously affect them as it is a violation of the rules of engagement (Manski, et al., 2001, p. 78).

The consequences are often sanctions that serious affect them by being sanctions and being exposed to health problems (Lapchick, 2006, p. 174). There are a number of athletes who confess that drugs affected then in one way or another and the consequences were tough. Among them include baseball player Jose Canseco, sprinter Marion Jones and Jerome young among others.

One major concern has been that is there a proper way or the limit that can differentiate between athletic performance enhancement through consumption of certain substance considered illegal or banned drugs in unethical doping to better their competitiveness (Manski, et al., 2001, p. 79). For instance, athlete can use artificial low oxygen environments and altitude training to improve their field performance while the use of erythropoietin to attain the same goal is prohibited.

Perhaps the simple way of finding answers to such concerns is looking at the second issue first. The organizations that govern sports activities have a legitimate reason in ensuring that the rules apply uniformly to all the competitors so that the integrity of competition is maintained and that there is competitive balance (Lapchick, 2006, p. 175).

Even though achieving the most excellent performance is the goal of every individual athlete in a competitor, the essence of the spots is that the competing person should be equal in terms of application of rule.

The anti-doping regulations need to be addressed keenly as they are integral in the rules of engagement just like the rules that deal with scoring, penalties, use of equipment among others (Manski, et al., 2001, p. 79). Although the sports industry may be characterized by arbitrary rules, nonetheless, the concerned organizations are duty-bound to ensure that all the laid-out rules are followed (Showalter, 2007, p. 661).

Drugs are often banned because they have adverse effect on the users in the long run and also affect the integrity of competitions. For instance, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WAPA) has banned the use of substances that meets at least two of the following criteria

  1. Substances that enhance or have the potential to enhance athletes performance
  2. Substances that are potentially risky to health
  3. Substances that are seem to be in violation of the spirit of sporting activities.

Essentially there is no one single reason that is strong enough to prohibit drug usage. For instance, the first criteria involved assessing the use of creatine and the areas that have low-oxygen levels to train and this are allowed because they do not pose health risks to the body therefore are satisfactory (Masteralexis, 2006, p. 776). On the contrary, using anabolic steroids is banned due to the fact that they meet all the above three criteria.

A very interesting issue has been that whether mandatory drug testing for athletes with no targeted suspicions of usage of illegal drugs was a reasonable thing to do or is it violating the fourth amendment (Masteralexis, 2006, p. 776).

Over the past few years, the Supreme Court has been supporting the mandatory random drug testing of athletes especially in high schools to test use of recreational drugs (Manski, et al., 2001, p. 79). This is usually in order to protect these student form the harmful damages of the drugs to their health. Some courts have on the other hand challenged the mandatory testing for drugs in athletes.

The congress has a valid regulatory power but the law could affect the internal governance of the professional sports as this has been subject to government regulation (Masteralexis, 2006, p. 779). The athlete organization could be the only agencies that can set the rules as to whether or not to test athlete for drugs.

The sports governing agencies should have the exclusive power to set rules, impose sanctions that are efficient in reducing the incentive to dope (Showalter, 2007, p. 661). The MLB has already adopted a testing program so that it can be able to test the players often on the enhancement substances (Ray, 2005, p. 275). The program has aimed at reducing the use of steroids by the players.

Many people can on the government to concentrate on preventing access to the enhancement drugs that are risky to human health and prosecution of the dealers of these substances (Masteralexis, 2006, p. 782). The government should not focus of the external testing programs.

Pros and Cons of Mandatory Drug Testing


Pro: If every individual should be free to assume the risk that people can take, the athletes should have the same freedom, especially when the athletes prefer to use the performance enhancing drugs.

Together with the possible harm and less risk, Or any other factor, individual rights still stand (Lapchick, 2006, p. 175). After all smokers are not prohibited from risking their health when they smoke, it is unfair therefore to prohibit athlete seeking to boost performance.

Con: steroids and other substances that enhance performance cause a negative impact on the health of people in long-term use. The users of these drugs are therefore causing harm to their bodies as they seek to meet the short terms benefits and goals. As long as the competitors consume harmful enhanced, they are at risk (Manski, et al., 2001, p. 78). The main reason for attempting to ban steroids is basically health concern.

Unfair advantage

Pro: the unfairness or lack of surrounding the issue of the use of performance enhancing drugs is quite ambiguous. Otherwise, one might as well argue that the activities of coaching and training of athletes is unfair as well and as such, these activities should also be banned. Competition can be unfair if there is not equal access to certain enhancements but the enhancements can be made equally accessible (Ray, 2005, p. 275).

Con: basically athletes often take these drugs to gain and advantage over competitors and not to up or level their skill. Considering that everyone else can do that, then rather than using 10 grams or 10 cc or any other measure, the circle will keep on increasing from 10 to 20, to 30 and so on. Using the enhancement drugs was not a coincidence it is a deliberate concern and meticulously planned to attain unfair advantage (Ray, 2005, p. 275).

Drugs vs. technology

Pro: Sports are made to make people enjoy and eventually leads to improved performance. However, there is not much difference from the enhancement brought about by coaching and training. If it is not used of outside help them why would athlete use rope, crampons and oxygen. Team specialists are often hired to do the same join and be trained on attitude etc (Manski, et al., 2001, p. 78).

Con: when the trained athletes use these drugs, performance is improved greatly. The cost is cheaper and when applied efficiently by trained athletes, then the outcomes of drug enhancement and other physiological substance, diet and other regimens cannot match the impact of drugs (Showalter, 2007, p. 661).


There are a number of reasons that are for and some that are against the idea of mandatory testing of drug enhance. However, the government is not in a better position to decide on this case. The only way would be to allow the bodies that have legitimate reasons like the sports union, athlete organizations among others.

Reference List

Lapchick, R.E. (2006). New Game Plan for College Sport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishers

Man ski, C.F., & Pepper, J. && Petrie, C. (2001).Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us, Washington DC: National Academies

Masteralexis, L.P., (2006).Drug Testing Provisions: An Examination of Disparities in Rules and Collective Bargaining Agreement Provisions, New Eng. L. Rev. 40(3)775-788

Ray, R. (2005). Management Strategies in Athletic Training, Champaign: Human Kinetics

Showalter, B.D., (2007). Steroid Testing Policies in Professional Sports: Regulated By Congress or the Responsibility of the Leagues, Marq. Sports L. Rev. 17: 651, 660-664

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