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Debate: Lifetime ban of athletes using drugs in sports

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Should we Impose a lifetime ban on sports people caught using drugs?

Background and context

Drugs are illegal and banned in sport. They can cause serious bodily damage and are addictive. However, in some cases, they can be used to enhance athletes' performances in sport. Because of this, athletes take the opportunity to enhance their performances. Currently, depending on what country you live in, the laws are for a two year ban for the first drug offence, and a lifetime ban from their sport for the second offence. But is it better to impose a lifetime ban after the first offence? Do drug cheats deserve a second chance? In the past, some people have been caught once, got a small ban and never used drugs again as a consequence. But some keep cheating. Is a lifetime ban fair and is it necessary to not give any warnings. Athletes would know about the ban and that would be a deterant to use drugs, but is it fair?

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Fairness: Is performance-enhancing drug-use unfair in sports?

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Yes

  • It is unfair for athletes to obtain advantages from drugs. If in a major event, such as the Olympics, one of the eight competitors are on performance enhancing drugs, not only are they illegal, but they are cheating. If they win, It may be from the effect the drug(s) had on the person. This is not fair for the other athletes and it shouldn't be allowed. To stop this, a lifetime ban would make the athletes fearful of using drugs and therefore if they were already using them, they would stop. If this was introduced and the drug using athlete kept using drugs, they wouldn't be able to play again, a fair punishment and they wouldn't have the opportunity to cheat again. The point of competition is to see, test and ensure your natural ability or to discover your improvements through training. Taking drugs is artificial talent and if you win lots of money and fame its like taking the credit for work someone else has done.
  • Sport is based on natural ability. The idea of competiting in sport is that you are using your natural ability. Performance-enhancing drugs are unfair and give athletes an advantage beyond their natural ability. This should not be allowed.


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No

  • Performance-enhancing drugs are consistent with historical trends. Performance-enhancing drugs should be acceptable. It is not consistent to exclude for the sake of preserving the purity of a sport, as the argument goes. If the purity of a sport is based on a historical standard, some difficulties arise. There were no highly advanced weight rooms, training facilities, and training programs in the original era of baseball in the 19th century. The modern existence of these facilities would break-down the criteria that there must be a fair historical standard.
  • Performance-enhancing drugs are consistent with trends away from "natural ability". The criteria that athletes should only be applying their 'natural abilities' also runs into trouble. The highly advanced training technologies, health programs, sports drinks, use of such things as caffeine pills, and other energy boosters seem to defeat the notion that athletes are currently applying only their 'natural abilities'. Performance enhancing drugs would not go too far beyond the current circumstances for athletes.


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Punishment: Does a lifetime ban fit the crime of drug use?

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Yes

  • Athletes should be punished severely for breaking the law. Drugs are illegal. Athletes are role models. If they use drugs they are breaking the law and setting a bad example. Using illicit drugs are against the law and anyone who breaks this law should be punished severely.
  • Cheats keep cheating. Many cheats, after being caught out once using drugs, get a second chance and get caught using drugs again. Some people just get caught time after time again. For example, Ben Johnson. He was the fastest man in the world - when he was using drugs. He cheated once, got a short ban, then came back into sport and cheated with drugs again and again. If someone has demonstrated that they're going to cheat with drugs, we might as well stop them before they cheat again.


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No

  • A life-time sports ban does not fit the crime of drug use. Drugs may be illegal, but does that mean that the person should never be allowed to play their sport again, or should they just get a slap on the wrist, maybe a fine and a short ban from their sport (ie. a three match ban or something similar).
  • Athletes should get a second chance after first conviction for drug use. If we imposed this new proposal to give a lifetime ban to cheats, they would never get a second chance. If someone was really good at a sport and they used drugs just once, they would probably get a ban and they would have learnt there lesson during this time. Then they could come back to the sport and play fairly. It's only fair to give people a second chance and an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Indeed, many people do learn from their mistakes. If athletes break the law a second time, then officials should think about banning them because they have broken the law twice and haven't learned from their mistakes. However, most of the time, you will find that people won't break the same law twice.


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Medicinal drugs: If the athlete needs medicinal medication, should this be an exception?

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Yes

  • Some athletes have ongoing problem, eg. diabetes that need medication. If athletes have an ongoing condition, they will need to use drugs to make sure they stay alive and healthy. These kinds of conditions include diabetes. If the athletes are only on diabetes medication, then that is fine. Sometimes people need medicinal drugs and they should still be allowed to play the sport they're good at regardless.
  • Medicinal drugs are not performance-enhancing. There is nothing wrong with medicinal drugs in sport because most of them are not performance enhancing. There is no reason why athletes who need medicine should be banned for life because medicine will not enhance their performance, their use of drugs is legitimate and legal, and they are not cheating.
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No

  • If they need medication, they really shouldn't be competing. If athletes need medication, that usually means that they're sick or have an injury. Usually, if an athlete is sick, they really shouldn't be competing in the first place. Needing medicine is no excuse for using drugs - if an athlete is sick they should not be deemed fit to play sport.
  • Painkiller medication kills pain - that will enhance performance. If some is need painkiller for "medication" then that can have advantages for a person when playing sport. Painkillers kill pain - so if someone uses them, even if it's just panadol, it will kill pain and if athletes cannot feel pain, they'll work even harder.
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Are we currently testing athletes too much?

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Pro

  • It gets to a point where it happens too often and gets annoying. Some athletes have come out and said they feel like targets from drug testers, particularly successful athletes. Getting tested up to twice a day is too much, unnecessary and can get to a point where its a violation of privacy.
  • It is not necessary to test more than once a week. One drug test can detect drug use within the past week so it is not necessary to test too often.
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Con

  • If we slack off in testing, athletes could easily get away with drug use. If athletes know when tests will be, or the tests are infrequent, athletes could easily get away with using drugs. Andrew Johns, a former Australian NRL player used drugs for ten years while playing sport. If he was tested once out of the testing routine, they would have picked up that he was using drugs. We're not suggesting three times a day or anything, but it can't be too infrequent.

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