Argumentative Essay Practice
At least as far back as Ben Johnson's steroid scandal at the 1988 Olympics, the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports had entered the public psyche. Johnson's world record sprint, his win, and then, the stripping of his gold medal made news around the world. However, performance-enhancing drugs in sports do not begin with Johnson. A quick overview of drugs in sports reveals the earlier use of questionable substances; some even argue that drugs in sports date back to the earliest Olympic games.
An alarming number of sports today, baseball, football, track and field, and especially cycling, have been shaken by doping scandals in recent years. Several Olympic champions were stripped of their medals as a result of positive drugs tests. Although attention is often focused upon athletics, almost all sports have a “drug problem” and devote considerable energy to testing competitors regularly, banning those who fail them. An anonymous survey conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping agency revealed that about one tenth of all athletes admit to having used drugs, even though illegal (2). Nonetheless, doubts remain as to the effectiveness of these tests and the fairness of some of the resulting bans, and some argue the whole approach is deeply flawed.
Performance-enhancing drugs include steroids (the male hormone testosterone), Human-growth hormone (HGH), recombinant erythropoietin (r-EPO), an artificial hormone and other drugs taken to build muscle-bulk during training, and stimulants or blood-doping taken to improve performance in competition. Authorities tend to deal with this problem in different ways, for example, for the Tour de France cycling competition all sportsmen were deemed suspicious and ranked on a list from 1 to 10 (1), others impose random tests on athletes. The market for performance enhancing drugs, such as EPO (erythropoietin) is big, in 2001 alone, EPO--generated more than $5 billion for inventor Amgen (2). Question is what is the appropriate measure to deal with performance enhancing drugs – is there a way to control them and is there any sense in controlling them at all.
Most such drugs have some medical uses and are prescribed legally in certain non-athletic contexts; it is unlikely that a Proposition would also wish to legalize “recreational” drugs such as cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, although all of these could be regarded as performance-enhancing in certain sporting contexts.