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Drugs in sports
Drugs in sports
We have an idea that the use of drugs to increase performance is ethically wrong and it makes sports impure, while we cheer for the team that has technically prepared their skis in the most superior manner. While more athletes get caught drugging themselves to gold, we look for ways to revert the trend. What if the key to reducing the use of drugs was to allow it?

We frown upon bicycle riders who have taken a cup of coffee, but cherish those who practice year round, both enhancing their performance in different manners. The idea is that the one who gains performance through other means than their own hard work is impure.

Yet we have also had problems with ski jumpers getting too skinny. Light weight ski jumpers have been seen as having an unfair technical advantage and might trigger a wave of ski jumper anorexia.

In cross country skiing, however, the gold medal goes to the one with the best technical preparations of their skiing equipment. When Marit Bjørgen doesn't win, her technical team is blamed. How is this, then, a pure sport?

Can we make up our minds about what makes a sport pure?

The four classes

I propose allowing the use of perfomance enhancing techniques, including drugs, in sports. The ethical advantages should be taken care of by introducing different competing classes, similar to the weight classes in boxing.

The class of pure sports should allow no chemical or technical advantages. This means that it should be strictly regulated and controlled. All cross country skiers should use the same brand and model skis, have the same preparations - in short, the only difference between the athletes should be the athletes themselves.

The class of drugged sports would allow performance enhancing drugs. This means that getting caught taking drugs in the pure class would be more humiliating than today - if you're taking a drug, why didn't you sign up for the drugged class? Indeed, I suspect that this class would be heavily supported my pharmaceutical companies.

The class of technically enhanced sports would allow technical differences but no drugs. This is really a battle between the manufacturers of sports equipment. It would be more fair to admit that the sportsman's performance was at least partially the honor of their equipment, and they would therefore be heavily supported by manufacturers.

And finally, the class of "anything goes" would allow both drugs and technical enhancements. Again, this would greatly admit that the performance has nothing to do with the athlete, but it would be a breeding ground for innovation.

Acknowledging impurity

The idea of introduing these four classes of sportsmanship would possibly have the effect of putting the focus where it belongs; each advantage is better put to use in the class where that advantage is better. It would emphasize an honesty that is not present in current competing athletic sports. It would multiply the size of the sports industry, and there would be no more fights about whether a Swede won in a skiing competition because of skill or technical advantage.

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