I know I owe you guys a real article – I promised, I will. But today let’s just sort some things out. The whole steroid-drugs-sports imbroglio is sold to you in such a way as to leave you powerless and confused. This is done on purpose: they need you to not know what to think, do and, if possible, start fighting with the next guy (who may happen to be your fellow athlete, and then they won). The following issues have no logical or argumentative connection. They need to be addressed separately. Once you do, it becomes easier:
- The higher principles: FREEDOM OF CHOICE. The most important foundation of democracy is individual freedom. There is no such thing as collective freedom: freedom is, by definition, INDIVIDUAL freedom. Once you take it from the individual, democracy is being stabbed. Therefore, drug prohibition is, per se, a transgression of a basic democratic principle. FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION : people who would rather restrain from eating meat, using synthetic drugs, using any drugs, observing a certain religious perspective, etc., must be free to organize themselves into associations but never, under any circumstances, impose their views or behavior to others. Therefore, people who believe steroids are a bad thing should organize their own associations and compete there. But having governments support inter-government bodies such as the IOC or the WADA is unacceptable
- The nature of the game: fair play. Every game is based on the principle of fair play: players must compete in equality of chances. This is based on something very complicated in philosophy but easy to translate: people are unequal by definition. Inequality is both inherent and acquired: it can change in time. In sports this can mean gaining experience, mastering technique (better chances), chronic injuries, degenerative conditions (decreased chances), etc. It also involves exogenous elements such as: a. food (nutritional manipulation became a complex science that produces enormous gains in performance – here we have science and technology); b. equipment (science and technology); c. drugs (again science and technology). By definition, this is all part of the game – ANY game. Excluding drugs from the game competition system is only a political decision based on a set of interests that have never involved the actual players (athletes).
- Health. Drugs – any drug – may produce both a beneficial effect on health or a detrimental one. Performance enhancing drugs may enhance performance by either improving or damaging health. It is simply not true that it is only detrimental. The decision as to whether use a certain drug or not based on its health effects can only be done BY THE INDIVIDUAL (back to the first principle). It has been again and again shown that the best decision-making is dependent on the availability of the best information and the ability to put it to good use. It is simply wrong to make health decisions of this nature for adults.
Separating these three items is a good starting point to organizing this discussion according to reason and logic, both necessary for any positive outcome.