Dopers are cheaters. They take drugs to enhance their athletic abilities, giving themselves an unfair advantage. However, some argue we should allow athletes to dope. They claim if everyone dopes, no one athlete has an unfair advantage because everyone has the ability to enhance their performance. Though arguments made in favor of doping point toward creating a level playing field, there is concern about the impacts of performance-enhancing drugs on the health and well-being of athletes. There is significant research that suggests steroids and various performance-enhancing drugs are detrimental to the human body.

In an episode of SCI TV, Dr. Gary David, Associate Professor of Sociology at Bentley University, discusses doping in sports and addresses the suggestion by Torbjörn Tännsjö of the Boston Globe, to “let all athletes dope.”

Trickle-Down Effect

A major concern for allowing athletes to dope is the possibility of negative impacts on young athletes who often attempt to follow in the favorite star’s footsteps. Young athletes who dope are at a significantly greater risk of health issues that could potentially cut their athletic career short. Gary David explains his concerns as a trickle-down effect.

“If professional athletes are doping then that’s going to trickle-down to college athletics, high school athletics and invariably it is going to end up in youth athletics.”

There is no single answer or solution to doping, but David suggests that we look at sports as a whole and understand how legal doping would impact all levels of athletes. We need to understand the impacts on the  He also points out that there are countless arguments made at all levels of sport that doping is “counterproductive to their overall wellbeing.”

Changing Values?

Joshua Gordon, host of SCI TV presents two important questions: Are we shifting what we value in sports? Or are we in love with innovation and the idea that we can think our way through how to advance the body?

Society needs to have an open discussion and determine what we value most about sports. David restructures the questions we need to ask by shifting focus from the innovation of performance enhancing drugs to the purpose of sport.

“Is it the winning and winning at all costs, which is really a part of American culture? Or is it the struggle of excellence no matter what the person’s innate ability is?”

Gary concludes by suggesting that if we value winning at all costs then praising that mentality “undermines the very value system that sports is supposed to have.”

Level Playing Field

It is debatable whether current bans on doping create a level playing field, as there are many athletes who break rules in an effort to gain an advantage.

SCI TV co-host, Ken Pendleton explains “there needs to be a much more open-minded discussion about these distinctions, what should be banned, what shouldn’t be banned, and at what levels?” Pendleton.

“There is a reason that rules exist in the first place,” David said. Rules exist in all aspects of society to maintain order and a level playing field. Before allowing athletes to dope there are many unanswered questions that must be addressed to ensure that all levels of athletics focus on health, fitness, and a level playing field for all athletes.