Last updated on: 12/16/2008 | Author:

Norman Fost, MD, MPH Biography

Professor and Director of the Medical Ethics Program at the University of Wisconsin
Pro to the question "Should Performance Enhancing Drugs (Such as Steroids) Be Accepted in Sports?"

“Nearly everyone condemns the use of drugs – amphetamines, cocaine, steroids, and narcotics, in sports. But other drugs – antibiotics, insulin, vitamins, and aspirin – are quite acceptable. The basis for these distinctions is not obvious, nor is it self-evident why there should be any restrictions on the use of drugs in sports. Drugs can be used for various purposes: to restore a person with a disease to normal function; to improve function in a healthy person; to relieve pain; and to give pleasure, with no expected effects on performance. Let me emphasize my personal distaste for drugs in sports, particularly performing-enhancing and recreational drugs. As an athlete, I would not use them. As a physician, I would not prescribe them. As a father, I would urge my children to avoid them. As a citizen, I deplore their widespread use. But these are merely preferences and not a sufficient basis for national policy that claims to be based on ethical considerations.”

“Banning Drugs in Sports: A Skeptical View,” Hastings Center Report, Aug. 1986

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Chair, Ethics and Security Advisory Board, Marshfield Personalized Medicine Research Project, 2004-present
  • Chair, Hospital Ethics Committee, University of Wisconsin, 1984-present
  • Professor, Pediatrics and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin, 1973-present
  • Director and Founder, Medical Ethics Program, University of Wisconsin, 1973-present
  • Vice Chair, Department of Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin, 1973-present
  • Pediatrician, 1964-present
  • Chair, Health Sciences Institutional Review Board, University of Wisconsin, 1977-2008
  • Recipient, Patricia Price Browne Award in Bioethics, 2007
  • Recipient, Lifetime Achievement Award, Protection of Human Subjects, 2006
  • Head, Child Protection Team, University of Wisconsin, 1973-2006
  • Recipient, American Academy of Pediatrics William G. Bartholome Award for Excellence in Ethics, 2003
  • Elected Member, Princeton University Board of Trustees, 1994-1998
  • Recipient, Nellie Westermann Prize for Research Ethics, 1997
  • DeCamp Visiting Professor, Bioethics, Princeton University, 1996-1997
  • Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin, 1985-1995
  • Member, President Clinton’s Health Care Task Force, 1994
  • Director, Pediatric Residency Training Program, University of Wisconsin, 1973-1994
  • Co-Chair, American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) Committee on Insurance Issues, 1992
  • Member, ASHG Committee on Population Screening and the Cystic Fibrosis Heterozygote Screening, 1992
  • Chair, Office of Technology Assessment Committee on Cystic Fibrosis Screening, 1991
  • MPH, Harvard University, 1973
  • MD, Yale University, 1964
  • AB, Princeton University, 1960
  • Fellow, Program in Law, Medicine and Ethics, Harvard University, 1972-1973
Quoted in:
  1. Do Athletes Gain an Unfair Advantage by Using Performance Enhancing Drugs?
  2. Should Performance Enhancing Drugs (Such as Steroids) Be Accepted in Sports?
  3. Should Steroid Use Be Accepted in Sports?
  4. Should "Blood Doping" and Erythropoietin (EPO) Use Be Accepted in Sports?
  5. Do Teens Use Performance Enhancing Drugs to Emulate Their Professional Athlete Role Models?
  6. Does the Use of Illegal Performance Enhancing Drugs by Some Athletes Coerce Other Athletes to Also Use Them to Remain Competitive?