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 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. Should Anabolic Steroid Use Be Accepted in Sports?
  2. Should Blood Doping and Erythropoietin (EPO) Use Be Accepted in Sports?
  3. Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?