Contemporary Sports Issues

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Last updated: April 17, 2019

The use of stimulants to improve an athlete’s performance can be backdated all the way to the Ancient Greek times ‘.

..it was Galen who reported that ancient Greek athletes used stimulants to enhance their physical performance’ (Mottram 2003, p29).

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From then till the modern day one vital thing has never changed, athletes wanting to win. The only discrepancy being how far an athlete will go to achieve this success. Throughout time people have aspired to reach higher levels of achievement in sporting situations to show prestige over others and acquire the feeling of success.Many athletes devote their lives to hopefully get this feeling, a feeling only they can truly appreciate due to the sacrifices that they must have made.

But because of human’s instinctive desire to succeed, it is needless to say that some looked for the easier routes to success. So even from an early time in history (668bc) some athletes were effectively looking to cheat. One Ancient Greek reported of a competitor being tripped by the opposition’s fans, to win a foot race. It’s funny to think of the Olympic morals being things such as fair play and competition for all, when even the Ancient Olympics were covered in corruption, fraud and scandal.

People throughout time have been looking for that ‘magic potion’ that will enhance their performance. In the Roman era through to the medieval knights, there have been reports of athletes or gladiators using stimulants to improve performance, mainly for fatigue and recovery after injury.One of the first reports of drug related death was Arthur Linton, the cyclist, in 1896. Although his death was covered up as a typhoid fever, his coach was subsequently banned. There was little reported evidence of drug use in the 19th century but in 1920 the Dangerous Drug Act was introduced to restrict peoples access to cocaine and opium unless with prescription.The Second World War introduced new and improved drugs to society and the athletes. Amphetamine type products had been improved and supplied to the fighting soldiers. The amphetamines enabled troops to keep their concentration longer whilst also fighting fatigue.

Because of this, amphetamines became the drugs of the 40’s and 50’s. The extreme drug use was not realised until the 60’s when many more athletes were being omitted to hospital. This was not helped by the liberal approach to drugs in the 60’s with many athletes and pop stars openly using them.In the 70’s and 80’sPositive aspects of drugsI will start by listing and explaining the positive aspects of using performance-enhancing drugs in sport.It is widely accepted that the largest reason people watch sport is too watch their favourite sports with the highest possible performance.

So in theory if the governing bodies like the IOC and Fifa legalised the use of drugs within the game they would actually be providing the fans with what they actually want to see, higher levels of performance and in turn greater entertainment. This is important, as the fans of each sport have to watch what the governing bodies put on their TV screens. The legalisation of performance enhancing drugs would greatly increase the popularity and publicity of these sporting bodies.People do not realise how much money is spent on drug testing in sport. With the legalisation of drugs each sport would be able to increase their revenues, with greater investment back into the sport itself. An example would be the IOC and the Manchester Commonwealth Games. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on drug testing; this money could then be better used to actually improve the events and the athlete’s facilities.

Some miss-understand what some performance enhancing drugs can do for the athlete. For example some believe that anabolic steroids make athletes bigger and stronger, without any training. They do not realise that the drug just enables athletes to train harder with muscles repairing more quickly. The miss-conception is that athletes will not have to train on drugs and that the illegal substances will make them instantly better performers, which is obviously un-true.

Supporters of DrugsOne of Australia’s greatest sporting figures, middle-distance runner and world record holder, Ron Clarke, has recently jumped to the defence of performance enhancing drugs.His argument is based on whether the drugs taken actually cause harm to the athlete’s health. He believes that if no damage is caused then why can’t these substances be used to ‘level the playing field’. One of the major points he brought up was the advantage that some athletes have living at higher altitudes. He was quoted saying to the Australian Associated Press (AAP)’We’ll never break another world record by our sea level athletes from 1,500m or above for another century’.

(2002, BBC Sports, should drugs be allowed in sport- Internet site)He was also wanted to re-iterate that he was not encouraging drug use.”There are two competitions in the world, the altitude runners and the others, I’m not advocating drugs, I’m saying until there is a drug, there won’t be any parity in any future competition’ (2002, BBC Sports, should drugs be allowed in sport- Internet site)Negative aspectsNow, some reasons to help explain the negative aspects of using performance-enhancing drugs in sport.One thing that is not realised by the athletes using these performance-enhancing substances is that most can and does cause serious organ failure and even death in the worst-case scenario. As well as causing organ failure it is also shown to increase the risk of infection or disease, with things like cancer and angina being increased. This is the most obvious reason that these drugs should be banned from sport.Another negative point could be the cost of the drugs. Performance enhancing products are not cheap and can quite easily put an athlete in debt if they do not have a large income. In conjunction with this, the purchase of such products only strengthens the ‘black market’.

Another major negative is the longer-term effects of using these substances. When males use Anabolic steroids they can receive large testosterone rushes. This can cause the enlargement of breasts and their ahhem can get smaller. With females, their breasts can become smaller and certain areas of the body can lose hair.The athletes that are taking these substances are effectively cheating and this goes against the traditional morals of the sports, as mentioned above. Many sports, especially the ones that originated in Britain, were gradually controlled from ‘mob games’ into organised sports.

This was done by the upper class grammar schools. The teachers believed that education through sport could instil the morals needed in life. For example the captain of the rugby team was being groomed to be a leader in society, later in life.

These were not just British morals, as stated above the Ancient Greeks. And if the basic morals of the sport (gentlemanly conduct and fairness) are broken with the use of drugs to give a competitor an unfair edge, the game is therefore being brought into disrepute. But what is disrepute? It is defined as ‘loss or want of reputation; ill character; disesteem; discredit. (2004,Hyper-dictionary- Internet site).In the modern day athletes are seen as role models and respected figures of society. So as children are idolising these athletes, surely they would be morally wrong advocating drug use to children.

This is probably the largest reason why performance-enhancing drugs will never be allowed by any governing body. If the athletes are advertising the use of it, how can you stop children imitating their idols? How many children copy footballer hairstyles, no matter how ridiculous it may be?Although people, such as Ron Clarke, actively encourage the use of drugs to ‘level the playing field’, surely this would just hand a huge competitive advantage to the more technological advanced or richer countries.Protesters of Drug UseJacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) president, is completely against the use of performance enhancing drugs.

He is actively encouraging other sports to increase the penalties imposed on the ‘cheating’ athletes, especially football, and copy the IOC’s directive.”Today there are unjustifiable discrepancies between different nations and between different sports I am thinking of the two-year ban for track and field athletes (who have failed dope tests) and four-month bans for football’ (2002, BBC Sports- should drugs be allowed in sports- Internet site)This example immediately brings you back to cases such as Ben Johnson and Rio Ferdinand. Ben Johnson won the 100m Olympic final in 9.79 seconds but was stripped of his medal after testing positive to steroids. He was given an automatic two-year ban, imposed by the IOC. Compared to this, Rio Ferdinand missed his drug test, which is the equivalent of testing positive, and only received an 8-month ban.

This was also considered quite a lengthy ban compared to other footballers such as Jaap Stam and Edgar Davids who received shorter sentences. Because of the un-clear discrepancies in what is a drug, the IOC often press their list of doping classes and methods.

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