Last updated on: 8/21/2023 | Author:

Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?

PRO (yes)


Matt Glover, Sports Editor for the Mac Weekly, states:

“Some might argue that performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are cheating or unfair. I beg to differ. I believe it would truly even the playing field because some countries (like Russia, which is currently banned from the Olympics until December 17, 2022 for their state-sponsored doping program) already are doping, while clean athletes are punished for being clean. There is a prisoners’ dilemma for athletes, with the dominant strategy being to cheat. This penalizes those who have the moral character or fortitude to not cheat, while rewarding others who did cheat.

The solution is not more draconian testing policies, but rather an abolition of these policies and a level playing field where athletes are able to make informed decisions about their bodies. This would ensure all athletes that wanted to use PEDs could, rather than those that can circumvent testing either with new drugs or through sheer luck (as not all athletes are tested). I would also be open to an Olympics for athletes who chose not to dope, which would give those athletes a chance at fair competition.”


Matt Glover, “The Case for PEDs, and a More Fair Sporting World,”, Feb. 10, 2022


Alex Pearlman, journalist and bioethicist, states”

“With the potential cancellation of the Olympics [due to the COVID-19 pandemic barely making headlines, and with viewership already in significant decline, would allowing enhancement make the Olympics more relevant? Would opening the competition to anyone wearing a springy exoskeleton suit to propel them down the track 50 percent faster than human legs alone actually make the games even more compelling? What about altering their genetics to enhance a freakish amount of red blood cells to ferry more oxygen to their muscles? And importantly, would changes to the games still be able to capture what it is that we appreciate about competitive sports in the first place?

What is purity of sport, anyway?

…Allowing science into the picture raises the bar that already exists. To allow genetic and cybernetic enhancement would be to elevate our experience of the art of expressing what the human body is capable of when it merges with the technological prowess at our fingertips, and it also allows sports to evolve to mirror the human experience. If our lives are augmented, perhaps our sports entertainment should be as well.”


Alex Pearlman, “The Case for More Doping in the Olympics,”, Mar. 11, 2021


Rory W. Collins, masters student at University of Canterbury, School of Teacher Education, states:

“[M]any of the PEDs which are currently banned ought to be allowed in the Olympics for athletes over 16 years of age. There is substantial justification for a less prohibitive approach to PEDs on the grounds of well-being, autonomy, and fairness; many of the objections to this proposal are simply unconvincing. In saying that, however, there are reasons to be hesitant about going straight from the current approach to a laissez-faire system.

Numerous drugs thought to be safe do not have studies on their long-term health consequences. Additionally, many elite athletes are relatively young and, therefore, may not be able to give free and informed consent. Furthermore, legalising PEDs may provide a benefit to athletes from wealthy countries that is unavailable to those from poorer nations. But allowing some PEDs would almost certainly not incur these negative effects. To name one example, EPO is cheap, widely available, and reliable evidence suggests that there are no long-term health risks if used in moderation. Prohibiting athletes from using EPO under the current criteria is simply unjustified, as is the case for many other safe PEDs. Over the coming years, we ought to strive for a less restrictive approach towards PED use in both the Olympics and other elite sporting events.”


Rory W. Collins, “Lowering Restrictions on Performance Enhancing Drugs in Elite Sports,”, 2017


Maeve Juday, columnist for the Swarthmore College newspaper The Phoenix, states:

“I propose that it’s time to head in the opposite direction: legalizing performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)…. If steroid use for professional athletes is permitted, they will be able to legally obtain physical enhancement drugs which have been regulated, and are therefore possibly safe to use…

Now, let’s not forget that the purpose of professional sports is entertainment, witnessing the seemingly magical feats of human athleticism and physical ability. An increase in steroid use would only serve to increase the talent and intensity of the game and bring it to a higher level…The essence of sports is that winning touchdown, that sprinting finish, and that fence-clearing homerun. Steroid legalization for professional athletes won’t jeopardize that; it will only enhance it.”


Maeve Juday, “To Dope, or Not to Dope?,”, Feb. 15, 2018

CON (no)


John William Devine, Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Swansea University, states:

“In evaluating any sports performance, the outcome cannot be detached from the means of its achievement. More work needs to be done by philosophers and sport scientists to determine when, if ever, drug-assisted performance truly extends the limits of human performance….

Furthermore, sports are designed to test a specific cluster of skills and capacities, including physical, psychological, tactical and technical abilities. Performance-enhancing drugs elevate the importance of certain physical attributes, such as strength and stamina.

Lifting the ban on drugs would alter the nature of sports by increasing the significance of this sub-set of physical attributes at the expense of other physical attributes, such as coordination and agility, as well as non-physical attributes such as strategic skill, mental resilience, and technical proficiency.”


John William Devine, “The Enhanced Games: Letting Athletes Use Drugs Could Lead to Worse Problems than Cheating,”, July 11, 2023


The USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency), in an undated article, “Effects of Performance-Enhancing Drugs,” available at and accessed on Apr. 14, 2021, stated:

“With all the information, attention, and debate over performance-enhancing drugs (or PEDs), many people want to further understand how performance-enhancing drugs affect one’s body. It’s an important area of concern for athletes and at the foundation of why USADA and other anti-doping organizations exist. Simply put, PEDs have the ability or potential to drastically alter the human body and biological functions, including the ability to considerably improve athletic performance in certain instances. These drugs, however, can be extremely dangerous and, in certain situations, deadly. The negative effects these drugs can have on one’s body make USADA’s mission paramount as to why no athlete should ever have to consider PED use to succeed in sport.”


USADA “Effects of Performance-Enhancing Drugs,” (accessed on Apr. 14, 2021)


Haley Tackaberry, high school athlete, states:

“Since athletes around the world are using drugs, many think legalizing steroids will fix the problem. However, The consequences greatly outweigh the benefits and therefore they should not be allowed at any level…

[A]llowing drugs in the sports world ultimately takes away from the true purpose of playing and watching sports because we love them. Most people know the old saying, ‘It’s not about if you win or lose, but about how you played the game.” PEDs devalue the underlying meaning of that statement because it centers everything around just the opposite: winning and losing. It diminishes the core values that should drive an athlete, including character, integrity, sportsmanship, skill and talent. In fact, it makes the athletes seem fake and only powered by an unnatural substance that should not be found in one’s body.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has many efforts in order to make sure sports remain clean. They help athletes of all levels know their responsibility when it comes to anti-doping, and they keep them honest by performing drug tests, specifically on college and professional players.

As for us, we have to make sure we are not encouraging these bad behaviors. It is important to realize the many risks of legalizing PEDs and take whatever actions possible in order to protect athletes and the nature of the sport itself.”


Haley Tackaberry, “Allowing PEDs in Sports a Bad Idea,”, Dec. 21, 2018


Thomas H. Murray, President Emeritus of the Hastings Center, states:

“Some people suggest that since athletes are going to dope anyway why not just let them?… The collateral damage, though, to both public health and the meaning of sport, would likely be severe…

Not everyone will resort to doping but, if we remove both legal controls and the stigma attached to it, many will. The likely result is a public health crisis, with particularly dire consequences for young people…

When a drug exists that can significantly enhance performance and you believe that your competitors are using it, you have three unhappy options. You can hold fast to your principles knowing you may lose to an inferior competitor without your scruples; you can stop competing at this level; or you can dope like the others. The point of anti-doping is to create a fourth option: to compete clean with reasonable confidence that your fellow athletes are doing the same.”


Thomas H. Murray, “Why Don’t We Just… Allow Athletes to Dope?,”, Jan. 29, 2018