S Shuster, JW Devine
Journal Issue: 
Volume 43: Issue 1: 2013



The use of performance enhancing drugs among elite athletes has been in the headlines  recently, particularly with Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace and his admission about widespread doping. Many argue that the use of drugs confers an unfair advantage and is ultimately  dangerous to the health of the athletes. Others, like Professor Shuster, argue that the use of drugs is no different from other techniques employed by athletes to boost their performance: swimmers shaving their body hair; skiers wearing sleek body armour; archers and shooters having laser eye surgery to improve their accuracy. Professor Shuster puts forward the provocative argument that since ‘there is no acceptable proof (that) drugs improve competitive performance and their use is no different from accepted sports practice, banning them is wrong and immoral.’ JW Devine argues the other side, that the use of performance enhancing drugs poses a ‘significant risk to the health of athletes’ and perhaps more importantly, ‘threatens to undermine the very purpose of sport’ by disrupting the ‘balance of excellences’.

Keywords  World Anti-Doping Agency, erythropoietin (EPO), beta blockers, fairness in sport, pharmacological credibility, evidence-based medicine

Declaration of Interests No conflicts of interest declared.