Last updated on: 10/19/2008 | Author:

Why Are Some Performance Enhancing Drugs Legal While Others Are Banned?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Gary I. Wadler, MD, Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List and Methods Sub-Committee, in the June 28, 2008 New York Times article “Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency Gives His Answers to Your Questions (Part I),” was quoted as having said the following:

“Deciding whether or not a particular drug or method should be prohibited in sport is the result of a long deliberative and consultative process involving stakeholders worldwide. Specifically, three criteria are used when considering whether or not a drug should be on the Prohibited List: (a) Does the drug or method have the potential of enhancing performance? (b) Does its abuse represent an actual or potential risk to an athlete’s health? And/or (c) does its use violate the spirit of sport? To be even considered for addition to the Prohibited List, the drug or method under consideration must fulfill at least two of the three aforementioned criteria.”

June 28, 2008 - Gary I. Wadler, MD

Peter A. Fricker, MBBS, Director of the Australian Institute of Sport, John W. Orchard, MD, PhD, sports physician and sports injury researcher, and Susan L. White, MBBS, sports physician for the Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre, et. al, wrote the following in a Feb. 6, 2006 article published by The Medical Journal of Australia titled “The Use and Misuse of Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sport”:

“A substance can be included on the World Anti-Doping Code Prohibited List if it meets two of the three major criteria defined by WADA, or if it is a potential masking agent. The three criteria are that the substance is performance-enhancing, that there are health risks to the athlete with use of the substance and that use of the substance violates the spirit of sport. The need for two out of the three criteria means that the WADA Code can ban ‘social drugs’ such as marijuana (even though they are not performance-enhancing) but can permit the use of a drug such as caffeine (even though low levels of this drugs are performance-enhancing).”

Feb. 6, 2006 - Susan L. White, MBBS John W. Orchard, MD, PhD Peter A. Fricker, MBBS

The Bioethics Education Project (BEEP), an interactive website and research project based at University of Bristol’s Graduate School of Education, wrote the following information on its website, in 2008 in a section called “Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sport: Is There Ever a Level Playing Field?”:

“Drugs and medical interventions which are allowed by authorities such as the Olympic Committee are justified on the grounds that they are therapeutic interventions that treat conditions or illnesses. This also includes treatments such as laser eye surgery to improve eye-sight (particularly common in shooting events and archery).

In contrast some performance enhancing drugs are banned because they place the health of the athlete at risk and because they contravene the spirit of fair play and do not promote integrity and unity in sport.”

2008 - Bioethics Education Project (BEEP)