Pros and Cons
PRO: "If each of us ought to be free to assume risks that we think are worth taking, shouldn't athletes have the same freedom as anyone else? In particular, if athletes prefer the gains in performance allegedly provided by the use of steroids, along with the increased risk of harm to the alternative of less risk and worse performance, what gives anyone the right to interfere with their choice? After all, if we should not forbid smokers from risking their health by smoking, why should we prohibit track stars or weightlifters from taking risks with their health in pursuit of their goals?"
CON: Performance enhancers, like steroids and other forms of doping, have a negative effect on long-term health. For then users of these enhancers are hurting themselves in the long run without on the average improving their short-term rewards from athletic competition, as long as competitors also use harmful enhancers. This is the main rationale for trying to ban steroids and other forms of doping from athletic competitions."
Seeking an "Unfair" Advantage
PRO: "There is no coherent argument to support the view that enhancing performance is unfair; if it were, we would ban coaching and training. Competition can be unfair if there is unequal access to particular enhancements, but equal access can be achieved more predictably by deregulation than by prohibition."
CON: "Remember that athletes don't take these drugs to level the playing field, they do it to get an advantage. And if everyone else is doing what they're doing, then instead of taking 10 grams or 10 cc's or whatever it is, they'll take 20 or 30 or 40, and a vicious circle simply gets bigger. The end game will be an activity that is increasingly violent, extreme, and meaningless, practiced by a class of chemical and or genetic mutant gladiators. The use of performance-enhancing drugs is not accidental; it is planned and deliberate with the sole objective of getting an unfair advantage."
Drugs vs. Technology
PRO: "Sport is for enjoyment and competition, and usually aims to improve; but what is the difference between increasing skill and performance by training, and taking drugs? If it is the use of personal effort rather than outside help, then what of ropes, crampons and oxygen for climbing? What of advanced training by teams of sports physiologists who wire athletes to equipment monitoring heart, muscle, brain and nerves to optimise activity; or teams of sports psychologists improving your responses and neutralising those observed in competitors? What of dieticians tampering with foods and additives - drugs by any other name - to improve performance? What is more 'fair' - the use of a team of sports specialists or a simple pill? What is the difference between training at altitude and taking erythropoietin to achieve a similar effect? And why are the strips of adhesive plaster on the nose - absurdly believed to increase oxygen intake - more acceptable than a drug which reduces airway resistance?"
CON: "When used by fully trained, elite athletes, [performance-enhancing] drugs can improve performance to a much greater extent than any combination of the most intensive, sophisticated, and costly nonpharmaceutical interventions known to modern sports science. Scientifically based training regimens, special diets, and complex physiological and biomechanical measurements during exercise and recovery cannot match the enhancing effects of drugs... Thus, drug use in a subgroup of athletes who -- even in the absence of drugs -- are able to compete at an elite level causes their separation into a distinct athletic population, distanced from 'natural' humans by a margin determined by the potency of the drug combinations that are used.
Athletes & Role Models
PRO: "Survey data actually shows that teen steroid use has mirrored the use of other illicit drugs over the years. It went up mildly in the 1990's, and has since either dropped off slightly, or leveled off since 2000. It's likely that the same trends that govern cocaine or marijuana use govern teen steroid use far more than what's happening in the sports pages. In fact, a study released last year, and one of the few studies to actually attempt to find out what motivates teen boys to take steroids, found that the most reliable indicator of steroid use was a teen's own self, self esteem and body image. The suggestion, and I think we can all agree it's pretty intuitive, is that teenage boys who do take steroids do so not because they want to look like Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, but because they want to look good for teenage girls."
CON: "For many male high school athletes, pro athletes are major influences. They are the role models. They choose the jersey numbers of their favorite professional players. They emulate their training regimens. They emulate their style of play. And they are influenced by their drug use. When a professional athlete admits to using steroids, the message young athletes hear is not always the one that is intended. Young athletes often believe that steroid use by their role models gives them permission to use. That it is simply part of what one must do to become an elite athlete."