Last updated on: 4/12/2018 | Author:

Thomas H. Murray, PhD Biography

President Emeritus of the Hastings Center
Con to the question "Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?"

“There are several reasons to ban performance-enhancing drugs: respect for the rules of sports, recognition that natural talents and their perfection are the point of sports, and the prospect of an ‘arms race’ in athletic performance.

…The rules in each sport in effect determine which characteristics among all possible sources of difference influence who wins and who loses…

Many innovations that would surely improve performance are banned outright. An athlete who showed up for the Boston Marathon wearing Rollerblades would be wheeled right off the start line…

Rules are changed at times to preserve a sport. Basketball banned goaltending—swatting the ball away just as it was about to go into the hoop—when players became so tall and athletic that they could stand by the basket and prevent most shots from having a chance to go in…

When performance-enhancing drugs have the power to overcome differences in natural talents and the willingness to sacrifice and persevere in the quest to perfect those talents, we cannot avoid confronting the question, What do we value in sport? Emerging technologies—from hypoxic chambers and carbon fiber prostheses to genetic manipulation—will force us [to] consider what, after all, is the point of sport?…

Sports that revere records and historical comparisons (think of baseball and home runs) would become unmoored by drug-aided athletes obliterating old standards. Athletes, caught in the sport arms race, would be pressed to take more and more drugs, in ever wilder combinations and at increasingly higher doses…

The drug race in sport has the potential to create a slow-motion public health catastrophe. Finally, we may lose whatever is most graceful, beautiful, and admirable about sport.”

“Sports Enhancement,” From Birth to Death and Bench to Clinic: The Hastings Center Bioethics Briefing Book for Journalists, Policymakers, and Campaigns, The Hastings Center, 2008-2009

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • President Emeritus, The Hastings Center
  • President, The Hastings Center, 1999-2012
  • Member, Agenda 2008 Study Group on Presidential Science and Technology Advisory Assets, Center for the Study of the Presidency
  • Member, International Advisory Board of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
  • Chair, Ethical Issues Review Panel, World Anti-Doping Agency
  • Member, International Panel of Experts of the Singapore Bioethics Advisory Committee
  • US representative to the International Stem Cell Forum’s Ethics Working Party
  • Member, Association of American Medical Colleges Task Force on Industry Sponsorship of Medical Education
  • Former member, US Olympic Committee, Sports Medicine Committee
  • Founding Editor, Medical Humanities Review
  • Editorial Board, The Hastings Center Report, Human Gene Therapy, Politics and the Life Sciences, Cloning, Science, and Policy, Medscape General Medicine (now Medscape Journal of Medicine), Teaching Ethics, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, and Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics
  • Former Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Susan E. Watson Professor of Bioethics in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Former President of the Society for Health and Human Values and of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities
  • PhD, Social Psychology, Princeton University, 1976
  • BA, Psychology, Temple University, 1968
  • None found
Quoted in:
  1. Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?