Ban Athletes Who Don’t Use Steroids

Ban Athletes Who Don’t Use Steroids

by Sidney Gendin, Ph.D.

Sidney is is a professor of philosophy of law at Eastern Michigan University. He has taught philosophy for 36 years, specializing in philosophy of law. He has co-edited several books and authored about 20 articles appearing in leading philosophy journals.

Isn’t it time for the brainwashed public to know the truth about steroids? In their ideological zeal to ban “performance enhancing” drugs, national governments and the various local and international sports federations have ignorantly and self-righteously declared that steroid use is cheating, dangerous, and stupid. In fact, in general, it is neither dangerous nor stupid and it is cheating only because it has been capriciously commanded to be so.

In the first place, with respect to the alleged danger, people ought to know that there are dozens of steroids and it would be absurd to imagine that their risks are identical. Moreover, steroids come in two broad classes – the orals and the injectables. It is true that most of the orals have associated hazards but not a single one of them is as hazardous as smoking or drinking. The principle dangers of the injectables result from overdosing and, even so, they are mainly such alarming matters as acne and severe headache. Every legally obtainable prescription drug comes with a warning of dozens of worse side effects.

But what is that to you and me? Why should we legislate what risks people should run unless they can interfere with the rest of us? In our democratic, capitalist society many persons risk their last few dollars to start up businesses which will probably fail. We do not stop them. If and when they become multimillionaires we congratulate them. We don’t permit people to drive without seatbelts because their accidents drive up insurance rates for the rest of us but we let people engage in the far riskier business of climbing mountains since the danger is mainly self-regarding. So enough virtue-parading preaching.

As for the so-called cheating, who really are the cheaters? The average steroid user spends about $100-150 per month while the supplement industries grow rich on suckering in the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of foolish people spending up to $1000 per month on a variety of mumbo jumbo: androstenedione, 4-androstenedione, 19-androstenedione, androstenediol and the several 4, 5, 17, and 19 varieties of androstenediol, tribulus terrestris, enzymatic conversion accelerators, growth hormone stimulators, hormone-releasing peptides, testosterone “boosters”, dozens of magical herbs and a ridiculous number of “non drugs” with unpronouncable names so they are always abbreviated such as HMB and DHEA. On top of all this, these folks who tend to be more affluent than steroid users, are pumping protein powders into their milk – $9 per day – and gobbling down protein candy bars – up to $3 each – while saving a bit of energy for screaming “Foul! Cheater!” at the poor steroid user. They are told by the manufacturers and distributors of these outlandish products that they look like steroids, feel like steroids and work like steroids. So? Why not ban them like steroids?

But I say ban them and only them. For one thing, they don’t work as well as steroids. More importantly, what care I as a fan that someone sets a remarkable record because he used steroids? I pay money to see sporting events and I am entitled to an athlete’s very best. Isaac Stern can afford a violin that few violinists and no high school orchestra player can afford. Is he taking unfair advantage of them? If I pay $60 to hear Stern and learn his tone was not up to par because he was too lazy to bring his own violin and borrowed a $50 one from a high school kid, I justifiably want my money back. What care I that he usually plays upon a $200,000 instrument? I am not bothered by this; I want his very best. Likewise, I want the very best an athlete can give me. I don’t want to watch athletes who could have done better if only they had used steroids. Talk of steroid performance as unnatural is as ridiculous as complaining about artificial hearts. As for me I plan to have a T-shirt made for me that will read on its front: “Use steroids or go home. Enough of crying and whining.”

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