Drugs in sport: What constitutes ‘unfair advantage’?
Wickham, G. (2013) Drugs in sport: What constitutes ‘unfair advantage’? The Conversation, 20 March .
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At the heart of growing concern about performance enhancing drugs in Australian sport is the very basic matter of sport as an even contest.
As Roy and H.G. used to put it, no one is particularly interested in an exhibition of a man kicking a dog. Sport is the pursuit (and the industry) it’s become because those who play it and those who watch it desire, and now expect, a close contest between relatively equally matched teams or individuals.
While some fans might wish to have their team win every game by a street, this outcome would be a turn-off for other fans, broadcasters, sponsors, administrators, and many others. The same is obviously true for a mismatch in boxing or tennis.
So, the idea that some teams or individuals are using drugs in a bid to defeat not just their opponents but the contest itself needs to be confronted. Punishments need to be meted out. But are we overreacting?
Before I go further, let me stress that I’m dealing here only with the use of drugs in sport deemed by officials to be performance enhancing to the point of creating an unfair advantage. My comments do not apply to any drug use that is illegal under Australian law (federal or state), which is a matter for the police and the courts (and for commentators qualified in that area).
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