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Sports and “artificial” enhancement

Science writer John Tierney – one of my “must-read” columnists – has a good post which gets us to consider why it is considered so terrible for sportsmen and women to take performance-enhancing drugs, or have special surgery done to make themselves stronger, faster, more flexible, and so on. In years to come, suppose that say, a footballer has a knee operation and as a result, he is able to ride over a tackle, pass the ball more swiftly. Or a fast bowler at cricket has the same operation done to make it easier to send down a delivery to a batsman (bowlers often get injured because if they are big guys, the strain on their knees and back can be large). It seems to me that the key issue is disclosure. If you had an “anything-goes” games, with sports folk free to do what they wanted, there could be no complaints about cheating. And the boundaries between what is and what is not considered okay are not clear cut anyway, but they are more readily solvable than just adopting a puritanical zero-tolerance approach on enhancements. I cannot also help wonder whether some of the constant sniping at sports folk for taking drugs is not so much about cheating per se, as about taking the drugs in the first place. There is a sort of desire for “purity” in sport which is a part of the more general puritanism in our culture.

Like I said, the key is disclosure. If any cyclist, swimmer, footballer or for that matter, F1 motor racing driver takes drugs as part of their sport, then it should be okay so long as they disclose it. One could always use a handicapping rule anyway. For instance, if a motor racer is taking a drug to enhance his concentration during a race, maybe the race organisers can impose a 5 second penalty.

As medical technologies progress, this issue is going to become more pressing. Rather than continuing to hold out against any of this, the sports world should focus on disclosure and be adult about it.

41 comments to Sports and “artificial” enhancement

  • Sprinters mixed up with coke.

    I’d love to see that.

  • Derek Buxton

    What a strange idea of sport, let ‘em cheat! That, I think has to be the daftest thing I have ever readf on this site. Probably written by someone who has never played any form of sport in his life. I hate anyone who cheats, be they sportsmen?, referees, politicians or whatever. Cheating devalues the sport, end of story.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Cheating devalues the sport, end of story.

    If the enhancements are disclosed, where is the cheating? Read my post again, Derek. Where did I say that this stuff can be done secretly, which clearly would be dishonest?

    One might as well ban sportsmen from training a lot or using technology, on the grounds that this is “cheating”.

  • MarkE

    Derek, what is a cheat? Cheats are people who use banned methods to gain an advantage. Remove the ban and the cheating stops. At the moment there is a pretty artbitrary line drawn in most sports between what is permitted and what is not. You may have noticed that many athletes claim, when tested positive for illegal drugs, that they were only using legal “dietary supplements”. They do not use these supplements to improve their complexions. By throwing the field open to whatever the competitors want to use but requiring transparency you will almost certainly achieve greater success than the sporting authorities have to date.

    Most performance enhancing drugs are actually nothing of the sort; they are training aids that allow the athlete to train harder for longer (so no, Joe sixpack couldn’t be an olympian with the right drugs), which makes testing at events nothing more than a cosmetic display. That is why cycling (for example) requires top level competitors to make themselves avaialble for testing away from events at short notice. And look how successfull that is. I am actually quite concerned that I have seen no drug taking headlines from the olympics; I know I haven’t been following them very closely but I would have thought I would see something; or ar the authorities really that inefficient?

    The downside I see is that success would go to those willing to take the greatest risk with their health (fair enough) or those who are most gullible and accept whatever their coach gives them (not very different from former Soviet teams in any field of endeavour). I suspect there would also be a demand for a “clean” league for those who don’t want to risk their health, but that would always be a temptation, so you would be back at square one. I’ll stick to tooling around at the back of the field at my local club.

  • Dale Amon

    I have long wondered why anyone cares about most of the now banned enhancers. It’s the sportsman’s life, not mine. It is a choice he or she makes. If we had media and busy bodies like today 200 years ago would someone have been calling it unfair that some sportsmen had proper nutrition while others were anemic from poor diet? Was there any complaint of unfairness when it was discovered that Oranges stopped scurvy and made sailors better able to fight, thus forcing all navy’s of the world to adopt use of the same Vitamin C ‘drug’?

    Times change, the world moves on. Get used to it. If you think the enhancements available today are something, just wait a couple decades for further advances.

    When free markets drive the cost of many of what are now ‘medical’ procedures down, you are going to see a lot of strange cosmetic and physical weirdnesses in Times Square or Picaddilly Circus. Will we some day have sportsmen raised in a zoo as a protected species, a Homo oldfashionedess?

    One thought I have had is perhaps, to satisfy everyone, plus reality, we should take a lesson from drag racing. Have events for ‘stock’ humans, modified and super modified. Just like in auto racing, the competitions in the ‘funny’ people class would drive technology that would serve us all.

  • Steve

    Because, given the rewards available, sport would become dominated by those willing (and rich enough) to modify their physiology. In effect, they would be a competition, not between athletes but between manufacturers.

  • Dale Amon

    And that is bad for what reason? If this were the 18th Century would it have been required that aristocratic sportsmen starve themselves to make it fair for peasants to compete?

    What is going to happen in 50 or a hundred years when we start seeing bones replaced with carbon fibre composites that are lighter and stronger than the original? When pretty much everyone has computer implants in the brain for interacting with the computers which have vanished into the furniture? When truly effective ‘mechanical’ heart pumps start being not just a life saver but better than the original? When people are able to change a setting in their brain and go from normal to ‘race’ settings at a whim?

    The period of sport we romanticize represents quite a short period in human history. Perhaps a century, maybe a a bit more. The Greek model of sport certainly doesn’t support the current beliefs. To the Greek Olympians, fans and organizers, there was only Gold and losers. Winning was the only thing that mattered in a far more serious way than today. One Greek hero was a wrestler who won and died almost simultaneously.

    So what I would say about the late 19th century through 20th century sport.philosophy is ‘this too shall pass.’

  • dr kill

    Sport and life are both endeavors which should be properly classed as ‘anything goes’ events. The only restriction morally and legally should be do no harm to your neighbor. Drug testing and trade unions are in place to limit competition only. Disclosure is not related to the central issue of competition, it is a quasi-regulation. It is only helpful at the racetrack. I want to know who is first-time-lasix.

  • Kevin B

    I remember reading somewhere, that medical researchers were growing connective tissue outside the body using the patients own stem cells, then replacing damaged tissue with brand new stuff.

    As this technology improves, then the externally produced tissue will be better and stronger than the natural.

    So should a footballer have to wait until he has damaged a knee cartilage and faces many weeks out of action at a vital part of the season, or will he be able to have a pre-emptive operation in the close season, so that his club can get the best of his talents when it counts.

    Pitorius,(sp), the double amputee 400m runner has opened many doors by suing to gain the right to take part in the Olympics. Will someone like Tiger Woods need to take the PGA to court to establish his right to play golf, should his dodgy knees need prosthetic enhancement?

    Sport is big business and will need to come to terms with a lot of changes over the next fifty years, as will the rest of us.

  • Steve

    Dale Amon and others.

    Your argument is a strong one but it doesn’t appeal to me. Perhaps I am a romantic. I have already lost interest in many events, which are as much pharmaceutical than physical. Medals go to the best cheats and that, for me, robs it of interest. Some sport is already a branch or reality TV and I have better things to do with my time.

  • RAB

    Tricky one this. But basically I’m with Johnathan.
    Let them take what they like. It aint my body.

    Who decides what is and isn’t enhancing though?
    I remember the case of a snooker player(fer Chrissakes!) who used to get so tense during matches that he took beta-blockers to calm down.
    Oh deary me no! not allowed.
    So he ended up drinking 15 pints a night instead, to achieve the same effect.
    That was fine with the authorities apparantly.
    And it was the booze that killed him.

  • Dale,
    Your futurology strikes a chord with me right now. I have just re-stringed the strimmer. A task which would be much easier with a third arm.

    I’m surprised nobody has picked up on something that struck me immediately I read JP’s post. OK, let’s assume we have “anything goes” games then they would be in parallel to “au natural” games. I suppose like different motor-racing formulas. You’d still have cheats in the later.

    Would the women’s and men’s event’s be seperate in the “anything goes” games. I mean if a woman is that into sports she might decide to drop her feminity for the sake of doing better. This has already happened. I heard on the car radio that a DDR shot-putter who was fucked over with hormones by her coaches was so fucked over she’s now had a sex change and is called Johann, not Johanna.

    I dunno about the “anything goes games”. My problem is that it becomes a competition more between biochemists than athletes. And the biochemists already have the Nobel to go for. In a way I just can’t see it being that much fun for the spectators. Sports-stars are, well, stars and turning them into cyphers for the “back-room boffins” will kill the magic. A bit like F1 racing a bit back when it was getting to the stage that the cars were essentially driven by computers from the pits and the drivers were essentially ballast. I know it never got that far but everybody could tell that was were it was heading and it was putting fans off.

    Oh and another thing. Dale’s bionic man-thing. Great but sports (though it might be a fine testing ground in the way that F1 tech filters down to a humble Honda Accord) isn’t where it’s really important. Helping the blind see again or the paralysed walk is much more important than some bugger breaking the 8s barrier in the 100m.

    Alright then. I’ve won myself round. Let Games Unlimited Commence. It could really fast-track the development of generally useful stuff.

  • RAB,
    I recall not long since that a Snowboarder was kicked out of the Winter Games for testing positive for cannabis!

  • “…and be adult about it.”

    – as if it’s childish to stand on the objective reality of exclusively human performance.

    Alrighty, then. I get the premise.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alrighty, then. I get the premise.

    The premise, Billy, is that if people disclose these matters, there is no cheating. I think Dale Amon hit the nail on the head with his points about technology, etc.

  • toolkien

    I’ve said pretty much the same thing over in the US about baseball. Things got so bound up we had hearings by the Feds over it. I said let them do what they will. All this “it’s terrible, can’t have, let me showboat before the next election” was nonsense. And simply hate when we allow ourselves to be so shocked when these things are revealed when only an idiot couldn’t have known they were being used.

    Let them enhance themselves, and if peopel want to see overbloated beasts going at each other, and the style of the game changes, then stop supporting it with your money.

    But then of course the old “we’ve got to protect the children” comes out. No one EVER points out that enhancement only becomes a problem when they are abused. All the scares about liver problems only result from abuse AND oral versions of enhancement (injections don’t have to metabolize). Then we have the posterchild in Lyle Alzado (an American Football player) who had a brain tumor which he blamed on steroids. There have been no clinical connections between the two. The other scare tactics are heart damage, which has been shown to also be resultant from just general weight training anyway (e.g. “natural body building) and what certain things do to men’s “giblets”. Again, will definitely result from abuse. And as a libertarian, if a guy wants raisins, so be it.

    Anyway, what got me the most was the collectivist viewpoint people had over the Baseball hearings we had. “Baseball was the national passtime” and they were granted immunity from anti-trust rules so the Feds had more “high ground” to interfere. It was basically everything I hate about Statism rolled up into one big mess. Get the government (and subsidies) out of Baseball. If the players want to take an injection three or four times over the course of years, or they want to heal faster, so be it. If it becomes unenjoyable to watch, I do something else. I don’t have such a moral claim into the thing to warrant State involvement of any kind.

  • Alsadius

    If these drugs didn’t have side effects, they’d mostly be legal I would think. But the organizers don’t want people to be forced to do serious damage to themselves in order to be able to compete. I agree that this is rather farcical in the case of a sport like boxing, but saying “You can’t run in the Olympics unless you let your balls shrivel up and wreck your liver with anabolic steroids” just feels really craven, and so they disallow it and screen for it as best they can. Now, they take it too far at times, but the principle is unsurprising.

    And it’s not like most of these things are illegal, they’re just banned by organizing committees. If you don’t like it, start the Steroid Olympics already.

  • Nick:

    If you think the Canadian snowboarder testing positive for cannabis was bad, consider poor tennis player Larisa Neiland. She tested positive for caffeine, which as far as I know has no enhancing effects for tennis players. At least, I’ve never been able to play effectively with the shakes. ;-)

    Toolkien:

    If you want to see a really nasty grandstanding politician regarding drug testing, consider what happened to Svetlana Kuznetsova. She was playing in an exhibition in Belgium, which, because it’s privately organized, counts as not being a sanctioned competition — meaning that short-acting drugs like cold remedies are not illegal. Kuznetsova was taking one of those cold remedies, and promptly had her A sample turn up positive for something that was perfectly legal for her to use. (As a result, the B sample was not tested.) However, the GDF Belgian Minister for Sport promptly came out and said that one of the players had tested positive, without naming the player. Well, not entirely. He made certain everybody knew that Belgium’s Justine Hénin wasn’t the one who tested “positive”.

    Of course, the GDFB politician never suffered any repercussions for what he did.

  • occasionalblogger

    Athletes cheat by using performance enhancing drugs for one reason and one reason only – money. The fame and glory bit will fade after a while (who won the canoe slalom in the last but one Olympic Games?). The endorsements and, of course, the opportunity to bonk the world’s most beautiful women (or men) who wish to bask in the reflected, but brief, glory, are all considered part of the risk but the main one is cash. The side effects, such as Ben Johnson’s atrophied testes through over use of steroids, can be an unwelcome element but then he can always overcome this by counting the dollar bills – or he would have done if he hadn’t been found out – now he has atrophied testes and no money. Big Gain, Big Risk. Even the evangelical Carl Lewis was advised by the American Athletics Association that he had failed a drugs test IN THE SAME LETTER as he was told he had been selected for the Olympics! National pride and global genuflection takes precedence over honesty and ethics. One way of resolving this is by allowing all athletes to take drugs and then award the gold, silver or bronze to the company which produced the appropriate stimulant – “And the Gold medal for shagging the donkey goes to De La Roche”. Personally, I can’t wait as it will be the only element of honesty in any athletic event of the last 30 years. Personally, I’d rather clean the chip pan than watch athletics.

  • If these drugs didn’t have side effects, they’d mostly be legal I would think.

    Alsadius nailed it.

    Start with the premise that these drugs have negative side effects (like say, cause you to die younger), and proceed debating based on this assumption.
    It’s not only the matter of cheating – it’s also the question if it’s ok to permit drugs that are harmful in the long run. (If they aren’t harmful then they wouldn’t be prohibited, and there is no debate).

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Start with the premise that these drugs have negative side effects (like say, cause you to die younger), and proceed debating based on this assumption.

    Sorry, but that is stacking the argument in favour of the prohibitionists on nothing more than a prejudice against. I am not convinced.

    it’s also the question if it’s ok to permit drugs that are harmful in the long run.

    Well that depends on who has the right, if at all, to do the permitting, doesn’t it? If the organisers of a sports event say that drugs X or Y are off-limits, fine. So long as the State keeps well out of it. Sports associations, so long as they genuinely autonomous organisations, should be able to set whatever rules, sensible or daft, that they like. However, if a sports group said that enhancements were acceptable, so long as they were disclosed, then it is nobody’s business but for those taking part.

  • otpu

    Larry Niven and Steven Barnes have written a book about just the kind of situation you describe.

    http://www.amazon.com/Achilles-Choice-Larry-Niven/dp/0812510836/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218744895&sr=1-2

    the book is set in the year 2048 and is about a sporting contest open only to those whose natural abilities have been boosted by the medical technology of the time.

    The title is based on the part of Homer’s Iliad where Achilles is given a choice by the Gods; he can live a long life but a unremarkable one or he can opt for glory and fame but his life will be cut short.

    In the book the boosting process that makes the athletes’ abilities unmatchable by any non-boosted athlete inevitably shortens their life span to a maximum of 10 years after being boosted.

    otpu

  • Simon_Lote

    Well call me puritanical but I don’t want Kelly Sotherton to have to grow a beard and change her name to Ken just so she can throw the javeline a bit further.

  • Bet

    Thank you for posting about this, Johnathan. It’s been percolating in my brain for some times, probably because of all science fiction I’ve been reading/watching lately.

    In Runner’s World recently there was a story of a double amputee who wanted to race in the “real” as opposed to the “Para” Olympics and posted competitive enough times to do so. However, the IOC denied his request because they decided that his specially-built racing prosthetics gave him an unfair advantage over able-bodied sprinters (something to do with the lack of fatiguing and faster/stronger pushoff, I believe).

    Then again, in the (execrable) short-lived television show Dark Angel, set in a near-future with a trans-genic main character, played by Jessica Alba, one of the episodes focused on the Steelheads: a gang of punks who pursued prosthetic enhancements, cutting off perfectly viable limbs in order to replace them with “better” biomechanical ones.

    And today I saw a headline about scientists using a rat brain to develop a tiny cyborg.

    There will always be people who can pursue the latest technological development to give themselves an edge, and others who can’t. Elite American athletes have the whole panoply of assistance from altitude tents and nutritionists to massage therapists and machines that track their VO2 max or whatever. Yet they compete in the same divisions as those who are limited to a flat road and a pair of shoes, if they’re lucky.

    Science and technology are progressing. What is the pinnacle of human achievement? Until we build a terminator or a PICA, even mechanically assisted achievement is still human achievment.

  • Stock, fuel & modified. Then, let the market sort it out.

  • Sean O'Callaghan

    Quick question? Doesn’t “it should be okay so long as they disclose it” have the same problem as banning them? If something new is developed the developers and athletes have exactly the same incentive to keep it quiet – a competitive advantage. Basically, your solution is based on people being honest – deep down you must know that won’t work!

  • Laird

    Mr. O’Callaghan is correct.

    One further point: All sports have rules, because without them you couldn’t have a meaningful contest, but all such rules are inherently arbitrary. There are rules of the game itself (a baseball which bounces into the stands is a ground-rule double; you can’t just decide to go on to third base); there are rules for the equipment one can use (the face of a tennis racket cannot exceed a certain number of square inches; golf balls must be of a certain construction and have a certain number of “dimples”); and there are rules for participation in the game (if you use a “corked” bat or throw a “spitball” you’ll be ejected from the game). Participants implicitly agree to abide by these rules, and if they fail to do so there are consequences. Eschewing the use of “performance-enhancing drugs” is just one of those rules which professional athletes agree to accept as a condition of employment. Those who are predisposed to cheat, and thereby gain some small advantage over their opponents, would simply find some other way to do so if we were to change the current rules and permit the use of such drugs. It wouldn’t fix the “problem” any more than widening the football field would fix the “problem” of players running out of bounds.

    The rules of baseball were in flux during the nineteenth century. When comparing statistics of players we only use those of the “modern era” (roughly from 1900 on) because prior to that the game was so different as to be incomparable. If the use of performance-enhancing drugs were now to be permitted, the game would now be a totally different one. Not necessarily better or worse, just different, and of course all subsequent records would be incomparable with those of the prior era. Frankly, I see no good reason for such a change.

  • We have two boxing associacions (or 3), each with it’s own world titles.
    We could have two athletics associacions – one with a list of banned drugs, and universal testing for all finalists, the other with no drug tests at all.
    I see no problem with this.
    It would be interesting to see which one attracts more competitors and gives out bigger prizes.

  • Barry

    How far do you go. Would it be reasonable for someone to take a lethal drug that would enhance his performance to get a gold medal for the glory of his country or religion (c.f. suicide bombers)?

    How about high jumpers with prosthetic legs designed to give them spring (like a grasshopper)?

    Boxers with depleted uranium implants in their fists?

    Swimmers with artificially enlarged flat feet and ankle joints?

    You can make up the rest. If cheating is OK, is that all cheating or only acceptable cheating?

  • Stock, fuel & modified. Then, let the market sort it out.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

  • How far do you go. Would it be reasonable…

    Reasonable to who? Surely the only person whose views on what is ‘reasonable’ should be the person whose body is being modified.

    Take professional dancers for example… a very high proportion end up with join damage and early arthritis due to the repetitive stress of what they do with their bodies. Should other be able to stop others becoming dancers because it is likely to lead to long term injury?

    …or someone to take a lethal drug that would enhance his performance to get a gold medal for the glory of his country or religion (c.f. suicide bombers)?

    If someone want to kill themselves doing a sport to prove how macho they are, I could not care less… the issue is that suicide bombers blow other people up who do not want to be blown up, so the analogy is flawed to put it mildly.

  • “The premise, Billy, is that if people disclose these matters, there is no cheating.”

    That premise, Johnathan, dismisses the legitimate authority of professional sanctioning bodies (Major League Baseball, NFL, etc.) to establish and assert the rules of their businesses. Not yours.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Billy, the trouble with your response is that it begs the question of who gets to decide what sporting institutions, assuming they were set up as private associations, are “legitimate”. That looks suspiciously like an argument from authority you are using. As I said, the issue is cheating. If parallel sports organsiations develop, what is the problem?

  • re: “Billy, the trouble with your response is that it begs the question of who gets to decide what sporting institutions, assuming they were set up as private associations, are “legitimate”

    These are private organizations and/or businesses.

    The market gets to decide which are legitimate as far as which they want to watch.

    The players and managers get to decide which are legitimate as far as which they want to join.

    It’s not complicated.

  • This discussion reminds me of Squander Two’s remarks re another Samizdata thread – inter alia, he said that “they refuse to allow their theories to bend to fit the annoyingly wonky shape of humanity”.

    This thread’s an example. Let’s just say that JP and Dale were given umpteen squilllion quid to set up a parallel games with the three competitive categories discussed here, and huge prizes for the winners.

    I think you’d find not only that the best athletes would want to be entered as ‘stock’, but that ‘the people’ (which would also mean the advertisers with their megabucks endorsements on offer) would consider the stock athletes as the ‘true’ champions. The market would decide and it would decide that basically it liked the way things are now.

    The best athletes would want to race as stock even if they were actually taking drugs i.e. cheating. If you can’t understand why, Squander’s point is proved.

    There’d be the occasional exception – some charismatic chemical-fuelled or bionic media star – and there’d be an audience from the Nuts/Zoo demographic for the chemically enhanced sprint and endurance events, with the collapse and death of the odd athlete, Tommy Simpson style, adding to the TV spectacle. But when it all settled out I don’t think athletics would be radically different to the way it is now – people wanting to compete as ‘stock’ but a sizeable proportion also willing to cheat.

  • “It’s not complicated.”

    I think it was G. K. Chesterton who once pointed out that this sort of thing is only confusing to people who’ve lost their principles.

  • Blacksmith

    Ron, excellent comment. That is, in a nutshell, why the only sports I tend to follow closely are the various motorsports – unapologetic augmentation is the name of the game, you might say.

    Billy, if the rules are, “There are no rules,” and that decision is made and acknowledged up front, then “lost their principles” doesnt’ even come into it – if you don’t like the game, you don’t have to play or watch. An un- or incompatibly-augmented player may very easily be banned from participating (You’ll see no marathoner on the starting grid at Daytona, nor Hamilton’s car entered in the RRL, for instance) – but the fault isn’t with the sport, it’s with those who try to force a square peg into a round hole.

    The problem is when, by law, you have monopolies for certain sports at the professional level (MLB, NFL, I’m looking at you). A “Juiced Baseball Leage” or “Cybernetic Football Association” might be a great idea, but at present they’d violate the few legal monopolies (at least here in the States). That leads to the notion that legislators can decide for the rest of us what constitutes fair play – which given a pol, amounts to “whatever lets me win more votes.” That’s a better example for the “lost their principles” bit.

  • Barry

    Perry,

    Dancers aren’t in a competition. So I think your analogy is flawed to put it mildly.

  • Laird

    Barry, of course professional dancers are in competition. They’re not tackling each other or anything like that, but it’s just as competitive as gymnastics, or diving, or any other judged sport (as opposed to those which are timed or use some other method of scoring).

    Blacksmith, motor sports have just as many limiting rules as any other. That’s why the times of the top drivers are so close; they’re all using identical equipment. Try using some unapproved modification in a race and see how you fare.

    As I said above, all sports have inherently arbitrary rules. Limitations on drug use are just one of them. It doesn’t really matter what the rules are, only that everybody follow them. When you don’t, they call you a cheater and you’re punished. That’s as it should be.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ron writes:

    The market gets to decide which are legitimate as far as which they want to watch.

    Well yes, and I would not disagree, and my comments could not be taken do do so. Let consumers decide, indeed, and keep the state well out of it.

    Of course, with sporting rules, like the rules of things such as stock markets and so on, there is often a “race to the top” in terms of standards – contrary to what the anti-globalistas claim – since those sports that get associated with cheating, etc (such as the problems in the Tour de France), will lose supporters and suffer reputational harm as a result.

    Billy Beck writes:

    I think it was G. K. Chesterton who once pointed out that this sort of thing is only confusing to people who’ve lost their principles

    .

    But then as that great writer might have pointed out, Billy, the trick is to apply those principles to situations where the facts on the ground – like technology – are changing all the time. Simply shouting “principles!” is not much use. And like I have said repeatedly, so long as there is no fraud, I fail to see how a sports event that permitted certain enhancements would bother anyone, least of all a libertarian.

    One reason why I am interested in this issue is that, alas, politicians are always trying to get in on the act of deciding stuff like this. Recently, I recall that John McCain tred to make an issue of the use of drugs in US sports. These people should leave it to the organisers of sports events. Period.

  • Laird

    Agreed, Johnathan; let the market sort it out.

    However, as to your “race to the top” thesis, two words: professional wrestling.