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  • 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

    i almost.. almost promised myself i wouldnt start this flamebait thread but i ask you to please remain civil as it runs its course.

    knowing an athlete ran 'supplemented' certainly does take the edge off the performance a bit (how much remains a debate).

    but here is a legitimate question: why is it any more unfair for person A to be 'juiced' and run faster than person B, than it is unfair for person A to simply be born faster than person B. neither advantage is 'earned', why is the 'supplemented' athlete more unfair?

    in the absolute most idealistic (but of course unattiainable) circumstances, wouldnt THG and related substances be useful in leveling the field so that the outcomes are based on skill and determination to train (what we should really be applauding, right?) and not just natural or 'synthetic' advantages?

    i've never seen this discussed thoughtfully and thoroughly.. if there's another thread, point me to it.

  • #2
    Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

    Basehead...you are speaking logically here...and most of the anti-drug nazis on this board simply don't want to hear it! Truth, or mere speculation that their views may not be shared by everyone, is not a matter for conjecture! The "purists" seem to be under the delusion that sport is somehow not "pure" if supplements of one sort or another are used. Of course, they don't seem to have any problem with genetically gifted individuals marrying and breeding with one another to produce a more genetically gifted offspring. How does selective breeding fit into the "purity of sport" equation to most members here? They simply don't want to deal with it, or the fact that 90-99% of the sport at it's highest levels of the past 50-80 years have been conducted with supplements of one sort or another. The current world & american records are all influenced by some sort of supplement. They have been for a very long time, and officials, agents, athletes, coaches, and most of all, the governmental bodies that run this sport know this, but they will never be truthful with the general public. Herein lies the ultimate hypocrisy and damnable lies.

    Kurt

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

      I can immediately see two problems with your premise. Please don't take this personally, as it is opinion, as was yours.

      A. No drug will level the playing field. There will still be widely diverse effects caused and if anything, would unlevel the field even more.

      B. Your idea that God-given talent is inherently unfair is absurd. Isn't the basis of all invididuality that we all have been 'blessed' differently? Is it unfair that I am smarter (or stupider) than another person? Is it unfair that LeBron James was born big, fast and coordinated?

      The entire foundation of sport is to hone your skills as best you can with what you have - naturally. To add drugs into the equation is to make something not 'natural.' But here's the big complication, and I DO grant your side of this debate a good point. Where do we draw the line on what is 'natural' and what is not. Taking any kind of supplement, from vitamins, to creatine, to THG, is problematic. Since this is an uninterrupted continuum of 'aid', when is the help too much? I'm sure some athletes view the line far to the right of where most of us do. And, my friend, this is the undefinable variable in the equation: what is too much aid?

      There can be no answer to this debate - drinking a glass of orange juice can be an illegal aid - too much Vitamin C!

      This brings me back to a previous thread: when bio-engineering is a commonplace thing in the future, there will be virtually no limits on human performance and we might as well play Robot Wars.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

        TAFNUT:

        I appreciate the clarity of thought presented in your statements. Well thought out and presented. Unfortunately, like you said, this debate(?) has no apparent end as I see it. Not only are there differences of opinion as to what is "natural" or "fair", but there are greater issues involved as to what is legal or willing to be tolerated on the part of human beings from all walks of life concerning the issue of drug testing in all its phases.

        I stated in an earlier thread that I thought we would see the end of the Olympic movement as we know it during my lifetime. I believe that the issue as to "fairness" and how doping plays into that equation is one that will not be "solved". This will be one of the legs of the Olympic movement that will be knocked out from under it. We have already reached the pinnacle of the movement and are now regressing as the athletic world tries to come to terms with issues of doping, cultures, monetary compensation and sponsorship. Unfortunately, sport has digressed far from its humble beginnings and now is a business. This has been a sad, but predictable development.

        Kurt

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

          tafnut:

          a) you say no drug would level the playing field. true, maybe no single one. but would it be impossible to come up with a composite profile of natural physical attributes, for each athlete? after all, people still care about womens athletics even when the times are below that of mens. its a lot more impressive for a woman to run under 11s 100m than a man. wouldnt it be as impressive for some man with much less physical unearned talent to achieve a 10.xx than a maurice grene who could jog it? i dont know if the idealistic answer is different groups based on profile, and the top lists for the year could be based on constants that come from that composite, rather than just raw times.. or if it could be a supplement-leveling situation (people with certain threshold genetic factors would not be allowed supplements). i'm sure this would inflame some but it's hard to argue against its fairness if more research could be done into these genetic factors.

          b) i dont think the premise is absurd to say that unearned natural advantages are unfair. like i said, after all, we separate genders in athletics for precisely this reason! but as you go on to say, its the real question of 'what is natural?' that should be the main debate in the upper echelons of the management of this sport. look at the ingredients of almost anything you ingest, you'll see much of it is synthetic. highly engineered protein and as you say, creatine, should not be allowed anymore than THG should, if you're going to be a purist. even engineered vitamin and especially mineral supplements affect aspects of performance, as you have also noted. i simply do not understand the purist hypocrisy at all. do you think it stems from some fear that the widespread use of these kinds of programs is thought to begin behind the 'communist enemy' curtain? i remember there being a lot of ben johnson communist comparisons in the cold war 80s, even as they were ending.

          as for your point via bio-engineering -- i mentioned that on letsrun somewhere as well. i had a thought... bio-engineered/supplemented events and 'natural' events, separated. the question: which would have more fans? now there's a debate =)

          thanks for the civility, both of you! continue on!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

            I think the debate would be easier if we first agreed a definition of 'drugs' and also the core aim of drug-use regulation.

            On the first point, there is no clear dividing line between artificial and natural substances; many drugs are banned only in certain quantities; some drugs are clearly harmful, others are not; many occur naturally at different levels in different people.

            For example, is it OK for an athlete who can't walk to have a cortisone injection and run to an Olympic medal (Peter Elliot, 88)? Artificial aid? Yes. Damaging to health? Yes. Allowed? Yes.

            Nor is the purpose of the drug regime clear. Is it to protect the integrity of competition, the image of the sport or the athlete's health? These aims lead to different banned lists and very different approaches to enforcement.

            Wherever we draw the line and whatever the core aims, designer steroids like THG would be over it. I am not in favor of a free-for-all. Rather, I believe the sport would be cleaner if the banned list was shorter and the aims more clearly focused.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

              wow - I really AM impressed with the level of thought put into these posts [ even me :-) ]; we all raise legitimate issues, which unfortunately can never be fully resolved. We are into an area of so much gray that the 'truth' will be forever obscured by the question of what is 'normal' or 'natural'. I agree that the Olympics, as we now conceive them, cannot last much longer - 50 years more? For the past 35 years I have closely followed T&F and my greatest pleasure has been derived by watching the progression of records and 'top tens'. I fear that the curve which describes man's development (which is now starting to flatten out), will be irrevocably skewed by something 'unnatural' in the near future.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

                There's an important first premise that needs to be answered before moving on to the question posed of whether using drugs provides an unfair advantage vs. other attributes such as natural talent. That premise is whether such drugs lead to significant harm to athletes. While some argue that they don't create harm, the perponderance of medical literature says otherwise, such as the higher death rates for Finnish weight lifter and the medical problems of former East German athletes.

                Given this situation, in this case, the "precautionary principle" of showing no harm will be done probably is applicable here. In other words, those advocating the use of drugs must show that drug use will NOT lead to significant side effects.

                If it was true that drugs could be used harm-free, then I would consider them no different than any other technological innovation, such as faster tracks, harder training or new poles or javelins. But as we have seen with those innovations, the "technological treadmill" demands that any aspiring athletes have to adopt those new innovations to keep up. Given the evidence that drugs are harmful, one athlete choosing to use them to an advantage compels all other athletes to at least consider using them to keep up technologically. Those who don't use them run the strong risk of not being competitive--competitively obsolete.

                It is this "externality" of drug use that spreads the potential harm beyond those making the initial decision that forces us to confront this issue as social decision rather than just leaving it to individuals.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

                  RMc, the 'danger' point you make is a good one. I am surprised that you think strictly performance-enhancing drugs that could be proven to not have dangerous side effects should be allowed. I agree entirely, but it's good to hear someone else say it.

                  If we're talking about 'danger' though, wouldn't it be fair to say that the history of the sport tells us that training and competing at the highest levels already entails probably as much physical danger as reasonable 'juicing' does? Different kinds of danger, I suppose, but the vast range of ailments and injuries resulting from overtraining and overracing incidents (and even run of the mill training and racing) is well documented. Oh, of course 'overtraining' is seen as heroic rather than dangerous as long as the person's marks improve and he/she doesn't happen to suffer any of these devastating injuries.

                  In addition, what about genetic pre-disposition to any of a variety of diseases and syndromes that could be aggravated by top tier training and competition? Testing those waters is dangerous as well. Is it perhaps 'not the same thing' because it's a somewhat more isolated (though maybe just to smaller groups) danger than, say, THG? I say much more research needs to be done on the new breed of 'dirty drugs' before this kind of willy nilly zero tolerance banning should be carried out.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

                    I'd like to address just the medical issues raised here.
                    A principal pharmacological premise is that a drug that is pharmacologically active, i.e performance enhancing has a potential for side effects, sometimes greater, sometimes lesser, depending on the user, dose and the length/frequency of use. Safe drugs, such as vitamins, minerals, dietary systems are safe because they are not pharmacologically active, therefore not performance enhancing. It is that simple.
                    I would assume that this would be at the base of the issue of their "morality" as raised above.
                    "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                    by Thomas Henry Huxley

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

                      A good distinction to make, Pego, but I think anything artificial, 'safe' or not, that brings the body to a better state of readiness to perform at one's highest, should be considered performance-enhancing. Some substances spur the body to take its own 'active' role in some way, even if the substance itself does not.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

                        So is creatine 'active' or not? I've seen impressive growth.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

                          The fundamental problem here is that there really is NO clear line separating the "bad" things we now call "drugs" from all the "good" things we currently call supplements, etc. Athletes have always sought ways to improve--harder or smarter training, new technologies like altitude tents, etc. Vitamins and "drugs" logically fall into this general category--and they have been used in one way or another for more than a century. I'm all for "purism" (whatever that may mean), but I'm even more for "realism" on this whole matter. And the reality is that this issue is far older, messier, and more complex than nearly anyone outside the inner circle of the sport will admit.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

                            The distinction between these groups of agents is actually clearer than it superficially seems. Contrary to the popular belief, vitamins for example, are co-enzymes vital to the function of the body, but there is no evidence that adding more than the body needs enhances that action. People on ordinary diet do not show signs of vitamin deficiency. The "tests", places like BALCO offer to test the "deficiency" in vitamins/minerals are all hoax.
                            Yes tafnut, creatine IS a pharmacologically active chemical with effects and side-effects. The biggest problem with creatine of what I know(I don't know a hell of a lot about it), is relatively too many side-effects to justify it's use, i.e. not enough music for the money. The big players are the steroids, erythropoetin and the growth hormone. These IMHO should be banned. I am not entirely sure about the creatine. Stimulants such as caffeine, ephedrine, modafinil in small amounts are probably chickenshit as far as performance is concerned. The trouble is that somebody out of shape loads himself with Ephedra and starts high degree of physical activity under hot sun. That can lead to a disaster as we have recently witnessed on a few occasions.
                            "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                            by Thomas Henry Huxley

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: 'clean' vs 'dirty'?

                              >A good distinction to make, Pego, but I think anything artificial, 'safe' or
                              >not, that brings the body to a better state of readiness to perform at one's
                              >highest, should be considered performance-enhancing.

                              Please define "artificial" in this context. I don't believe it can be done. HGH and Testosterone are quite natural and levels naturally vary between individuals. Would you not ban them?

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