Words are cheap and opinion costs less.
There should be a Free Olympics. These words were chosen with care and attention to clarity and meaningful expression of an opinion that is gaining momentum in the international discussion on drug-free sport.
Free from restrictions over which performance enhancing chemical substances can be taken.
It shouldn’t be surprising that this is being suggested, but it is. The hyperbolic War on ‘Drugs’ rationale has clouded the issue in any rational discussion over ethics and strategy on this issue.
A direct by-product of historical McCarthyism this meaningless and ineffectual shadow of political morality has cast almost impenetrably dark clouds over world opinion from the rise of globally dominant American ideology to the present day.
What exactly are the moral differences between the chemicals in carrots and steroids or coffee and amphetamines?
Everything we ingest has a chemical definition and affects us in some way. The pharmacological definition of the word drug lists its functions and doesn’t differentiate between them; likewise the common usage of the word includes medicine and mushrooms.
Even the term ‘natural’ is irrelevant; cocaine is a naturally occurring substance as are carrots, our performance might benefit from the judicious use of carrots or cocaine. And many of the same people who will complain about synthetic performance drugs will be concomitantly slurping on their beef and carrot cup-a-soups.
Whether you agree with recreational or performance drugs or not you should be wary of the politicians’ rhetoric because exaggeration and simplification only brush the issues under the carpet. History proves that prohibition doesn’t solve anything; it doesn’t even provide much of an obstacle.
The basic anti-doping principles of sport were laid down in 1967 by the International Olympic Committee:
1. protection of the athletes' health
2. respect for medical and sports ethics
3. ensure an equal chance for everyone during competition.
There is no reason here to distinguish between performance enhanced sport and non, except that the rules should be the same for everyone. Therefore the codes should be separated; a Free Olympics AND a Drug-Free Olympics.
1. The argument that athletes would risk their lives by taking more and more dangerous drugs doesn’t carry any weight. This article is promoting responsible and professional scientific research, practice and advance not chemical abandonment. Athletes, humans, have always pushed themselves to the extremes. It is the very same fundamental motivation that drives human excellence in all fields, not just sport, and it should be developed and encouraged. Be all that you can be.
2. Enhancing performance safely through transparent scientific research and practice doesn’t challenge any medical ethics and the only sports ethic should be one of equality for all within agreed rules.
3. An equal chance for everyone is not being achieved by prohibition, the only answer is segregation.
It might even be argued that it’s impossible to have a level playing field anyway.
Think of the economic and social disadvantages of a Sudanese to an American and their nutritional and genetic consequences not to mention their appetite for or opportunity to excel at sport. Think of German or Swedish attempts at eugenics…
Nothing immoral in drugs just like there’s nothing sinful about political sympathy, gender, colour or race. It’s all spin; transient politically manipulated morality.
Parity is the real issue here, not drugs or morality. Therefore the solution should address that and not get caught up in culturally unilateral and historically fickle politics. Zero tolerance is an effective strategy in some affairs and it might also be a feature of the Drug-Free Olympics, especially as a Free Olympics would offer a fair alternative to cheating.
Perhaps those who pontificate freely and brashly on this topic would do well to look at their own colleagues and ask who stops journalists from being all they can be by taking performance enhancing drugs. The police?
Is it right and fair that writers, journalists (and other professionals) might benefit from performance enhancing drugs while athletes and sportsmen may not? Particularly when sports are freely described as art…
Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Borroughs, Will Self, Lord Byron; Ben Johnson, Diane Modahl, Thomas Hicks, Festina, Lance Armstrong. Hard to say that these folk were on a level pitch.
Drugs in journalism; also dangerous if unsupervised, also gives an unfair advantage in a competitive field, also changes the nature of the competition, also illegal, also chosen by many despite the risks, ‘immorality’ and illegality.
Ultimately there is nothing different about performance drugs than any performance strategy. If there was an open debate, scientific development and free competition it wouldn’t change the fact that only the most exceptional athletes would win in either code.
Free the Olympics from cheats; celebrate drug-free sport and also explore vigorously chemically enhanced human potential. It will probably be superseded by genetically engineered athletics anyway!