Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday 5/18/2012 on all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress in denying he had used performance-enhancing drugs to extend his long career as one of the greatest and most-decorated pitchers in baseball history. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is bringing doping charges against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, threatening to strip his victories in the storied cycling race. And who can forget Marion Jones, track and field champion and Olympic gold medalist who was stripped of her Olympic medals by the International Olympic Committee, then sentenced to six months in prison on Jan. 11, 2008 for lying to a court and deceiving federal investigators. There are countless other sports champions who were stripped of their Olympic gold medals, sent to prison, banned from their favorite sports, suspended for long periods, only because they tested positive to banned substances, not even limited to performance enhancement.
The focus on sports is intended to fashion fair competition where human physical abilities are tested to their limits devoid of what viewed as deceptive, unnatural utility intended to boost performance beyond natural, biological bounds.
Nevertheless, there are two issues needing further scrutiny.
The first one has to do with the focus on drugs and sports. There are many other contests where nature has been dismissed in favor of unnatural, man-made enhancements. Take the Miss Universe or Miss USA beauty contests for example. Many of the contestants had gone through a boob job, a nose job, a liposuction job, even a sex change job. Should those be disallowed? Should those operations disqualify a beautiful girl from participating only because her beauty had been intensified by unnatural means like plastic surgery?
And what about thoroughbred horseracing jockeys? They subject themselves to sweatboxes, diuretics suppositories, and intentional eating disorders before one more derby—Kentucky, Shmetacky or any other high stakes horserace. Should these jockeys be subject to medical screening before being allowed to ride the winning horse?
Take the presidential elections in the US. It’s clear that the winner in many contests is not the person with the best ideas but rather the person with the most money. If you have rich friends you enhance your chances of winning a political race. I am convinced that this is not what the Greeks of the sixth century BC had in mind when they invented the “rule of the people.”
And how about insider trading by member of legislative, governmental or judicial bodies and their staff? Yes! They have finally passed a law restricting members of Congress from using insider information to their own personal advantage— to which they are exposed on a daily basis through their role. Except the new law applies to future trades only. But in sports, athletes were stripped of medals, even sent to prison years after it was proven that they had been using performance-enhancing drugs when they had won. Applying this logic to members of Congress, they should return the money (plus interest) they had acquired by utilizing insider information, not available to the general public.
And this one is really interesting. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education suggested that university professors were taking stimulants like Adderall to increase their academic productivity. According to the article, several professors considered this "cheating" at academics. The implication is obvious. The quest for knowledge and any knowledge acquired through performance-enhancing stimulants should be disallowed or even ignored if the advances in science or medicine were obtained under the influence.
The second issue has to do with competition fairness. It is my opinion that as long as any contestant has access to enhancements, then using these performance-enhancing means is not unfair. The only case where fairness has been critically challenged, in the examples above, is the case where members of Congress were allowed to trade securities on information not available to the general public. Although it was legal, it was a crime by any logical reasoning.
It is my conviction that performance-enhancing drugs should be allowed if athletes believe that they actually work. Otherwise, Insisting on drug-free sports should carry over to disallowing plastic surgery for contestants in beauty pageants, disallowing vomiting for horseracing jockeys, disallowing spending over a maximum amount for presidential candidates and their friends combined, insisting on money back for all capital gains achieved through insider information obtained by members of congress. And to top it off, the ruling should include cancellation of all scientific and medical breakthroughs if there is any suspicion that they have been obtained under the effect of caffeine:).