Time to legalize Performance Enhancing Drugs?


I believe Performance Enhancement Drugs (PED) should be legal as long as they don’t harm other people besides potentially the athlete taking them. Public acceptance of performance enhancing drugs is more supportive these days, mainly due to a big increase in legal prescriptions of performance boosting drugs for the general public such as Ritalin (up 1,700 percent in past 15 years) and Adderall (up 3,000 percent in the same period). (Morgan, 2009) These two are used to treat ADHD. A plethora of other drugs also help performance for the general public. Just watch TV for a few hours and you’ll see all the commercials. (You know, the ones where the side effects seems sexy and unimportant.)


The public even seems to have a tolerance for steroids and testosterone now. At one time both of them seemed to be associated with the dark underworld of illegal sport drugs. In fact, 1 to 3 million Americans now have used Anabolic Steroids (Tokish et al., 2004), and the prescriptions for testosterone products for the aging male increased by over 170% in the previous five years. (Nigro & Christ-Crain, 2012)


And how do you define performance enhancing drugs? Isn’t caffeine a PED? It’s not banned in sport. Many orchestra musicians take Beta-Blockers to calm their nerves before a performance. While musical performance isn’t a sport, why aren’t musicians tested for performance enhancing drugs and athletes are?


So, it is apparent that not only are performance enhancement drugs accepted within the general public, and no longer thought of as much as morally wrong or being a stigma; it is almost becoming a mainstream way of life.


Therefore, it shouldn’t be up to a committee of athletic association board members to determine what is moral and ethical or not in sports. It should be up to the masses, and until some type of democratic voting system could be set up to legalize PED in sport; public receptiveness and acceptance to performance enhancing drugs should trump the athletic committee decision makers. 


The caveat to me believing in allowing PED in sport is that in order to do so, I believe society, governments and organized sport should put a big focus on all natural competitions and athletic events. These natural athletes could almost become a novelty, and if proper PR and marketing were involved, all natural athletic events and competitions could be just as popular and revenue generating as the athletic events legally using performance enhancement drugs. There should never be a competition between the two, since the athletes using performance enhanced drugs would surely win. However, there could be a sort of co-existence of the two. People would heartily support and admire the natural athletes and their competitions, while exhibiting more of a frenzied excitement for the athletes and events using performance enhancing drugs. There could certainly be corporate sponsorship for the natural athletic events, and sponsors and television stations would have more opportunity for advertising and revenues with two distinct leagues or competition types: Natural and Drug Enhanced Sport.


Technology is changing the way we live, and it’s helping to develop and produce a greater amount and greater variety of performance enhancing drugs. Let’s not fight modern technology when it comes to athletic performance and human achievement; let’s embrace it while still simultaneously supporting an alternative natural way of living and performing. 

This article made it’s debut on www.noho.org




Morgan, W. J. (2009). Athletic Perfection, Performance- Enhancing Drugs, and the Treatment- Enhancement Distinction. Journal Of The Philosophy Of Sport, 36(2), 162-181.

Nigro, N., & Christ-Crain, M. (2012). Testosterone treatment in the aging male: myth or reality?. Swiss Medical Weekly, 142w13539. doi:10.4414/smw.2012.13539 

Tokish, J., Kocher, M., & Hawkins, R. (2004). Ergogenic aids: a review of basic science, performance, side effects, and status in sports. American Journal Of Sports Medicine, 32(6), 1543-1553.


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Jack Witt