Debate: Should doping in sport be legal?

Thu, 20 Jan 14:47:00 2011

Disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis has suggested this week that cycling authorities should simply legalise doping to make the sport transparent.

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"Just accept that it's here, that it's not going away and that it's just going to get more complicated," Landis insists.

On the face of it, the views of Landis - who won cycling's premier event, the Tour de France, in 2006 only later to be stripped of the title and confess to doping - are outrageous and go against the spirit of fair competition.

But should we listen to him?

Professor Andy Miah thinks so - and he's Chair in Ethics and Emerging Technologies at the University of the West of Scotland.

“While there may be widespread support for cleansing sport of doping," Miah argues, "we should consider why we spend time prohibiting performance enhancement in sports when what we ask athletes to do is break the known limits of human capability.

“This is what elite sports require, so athletes should be permitted the use of whatever means are available to them to optimise the chance of this taking place.”

If doping were legal, would we be able to enjoy track and field without an air of suspicion over the athletes? What joy is there in the current situation of watching races only to have the winners exposed afterwards? Is doping in sport even policeable? Does trying to gain an advantage and beating the testers create a dangerous underground culture in sports like cycling?

Or would that danger only be increased if performance-enhancing drugs were unrestricted in sport? Would athletes, cyclists and swimmers who wanted to compete clean feel forced into doping?

Why not share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


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