Poor Lance Armstrong. The seven-time Tour de France winner has been stripped of his famous victories by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which claims he used illicit performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong never tested positive for anything, but his decision to quit fighting the charges has been seen by some as tantamount to a confession. So why shouldn’t he be punished? Doping is, after all, widely considered the ultimate sin of professional athletes.
Dwain Chambers, the UK’s fastest sprinter in the 100 meters, was banned from competing in the Olympic Games after testing positive for the anabolic steroid tetrahydrogestrinone. He claimed in his autobiography that at least half of the U.S. racing team at the 2008 Summer Games used illegal substances. The battle to control drug use never, ever seems to end. Why don’t we accept doping will always happen and legalize it?
That may seem crazy, but a pro-doping culture might be the inevitable future of sport. It gets to the heart of what it is we want when we compete in and watch sports, and what we consider to be “normal” humanity. An athlete who takes a performance-enhancing drug is relying on something he doesn’t actually have to improve performance — whether that drug is naturally occurring or designed by scientists, whether that extra help skews their genetics to alter their humanity.
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