Last updated on: 10/21/2008 | Author:

Julian Savulescu, PhD Biography

Professor and Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford
Pro to the question "Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?"

“It would be much easier to eliminate the anti-doping rules than to eliminate doping. The current policy against doping has proved expensive and difficult to police. In the near future it may become impossible to police.

…Because doping is illegal, the pressure is to make performance enhancers undetectable, rather than safe. Performance enhancers are produced or bought on the black market and administered in a clandestine, uncontrolled way with no monitoring of the athlete’s health. Allowing the use of performance enhancers would make sport safer as there would be less pressure on athletes to take unsafe enhancers and a pressure to develop new safe performance enhancers and to make existing enhancers more effective at safe dosages…

The removal of doping controls would have major benefits: less cheating, increased solidarity and respect between athletes, more focus on sport and not on rules.

[I]n order to justify the current doping controls, these arguments have to justify the ban’s yearly multi-million dollar cost, and the intangible costs, and they must outweigh the benefits we would get if we abolished doping controls. We should focus on health of athletes, not performance enhancement.

Rather than attempting to detect undetectable enhancers, we should spend our limited resources on evaluating health and fitness to compete. There are good reasons to allow performance enhancement, to make sport fairer (in the sense that the rules are equally applied) and to narrow the gap between the cheaters and the honest athletes. It would provide a better spectacle, be safer and less coercive.”

“Ethics of Performance Enhancement in Sport: Drugs and Gene Doping,” Principle of Health Care Ethics, June 2007

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor and Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, University of Oxford
  • Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and of the Program on Ethics and Biosciences in the James Martin 21st Century School, University of Oxford
  • Head of the Melbourne-Oxford Stem Cell Collaboration
  • Former Director of the Ethics of Genetics Unit, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
  • Former Director of the Bioethics Program at the Centre for the Study of Health and Society, University of Melbourne
  • Former Chair of the Department of Human Services, Victoria, Ethics Committee, University of Melbourne
  • Former Clinical Ethicist, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals
  • Master of Arts by Resolution, awarded by the University of Oxford, 2002
  • PhD, Monash University, 1994
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Monash University, 1988
  • Bachelor of Medical Science, Monash University, 1985
  • Haileybury College, Melbourne, 1981
  • None found
Quoted in:
  1. Should Blood Doping and Erythropoietin (EPO) Use Be Accepted in Sports?
  2. Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?