I’ve never quite understood the people who say that athletes should be allowed to use performance-enhancing drugs. The pro-juice folks say they simply want to see the best athletes and teams possible, and if that means chemical help for the participants, fine.
They don’t care that Mark McGwire’s home runs were PED-aided, nor do they care that 31 athletes from the 2008 Beijing Olympics reportedly failed drug tests after their samples were recently retested. And never mind that Russia reportedly ran a doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games that would have made the old East Germany regime proud.
But is there a limit when it comes to artificial help? If steroids are perfectly fine in your world, what about potential technology that makes prosthetic limbs more powerful than flesh and blood and muscle? What if a runner had a double amputation in order to get two stronger legs? Would that be an acceptable competitive advantage?
What about cloning? If there were a way to create an exact copy of LeBron James, would that be OK? Better than OK — wonderful?
If you’re on the side of allowing PEDs in sports, then you can’t logically argue against the other scenarios. Drugs allow athletes to do something they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise, whether that be a 9.7-second 100-meter dash or an eight-foot high jump. We’re nearing the time when technology will be able to outdo the physical gifts we were given at birth, the way a computer now can beat a grandmaster at chess.
Let’s put aside the possibility that the drug cheats might end up with bad hearts, ruined livers or the occasional tumor that looks like a second head. And let’s not get into the discussion of whether you’d be supportive if your children, syringes in hands, followed their heroes’ lead.
We need to keep fighting the good fight against drugs, even if, in the case of Beijing, it’s eight years delayed. If we don’t, we’ll eventually find ourselves rooting for computer programs or doctor’s prescriptions instead of people.