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Enhancement in sport

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L159-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2020
Retrieved June 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

The philosophical literature on enhancement in sport focuses largely on the question of whether, and what sort of, restrictions on enhancement in sport are morally justified. Those who support bans on enhancement often appeal to the harmful side-effects of performance-enhancing drugs, while those who support liberalising performance-enhancing drug policies argue that medically supervised doping would be healthier than illicit use. Besides raising concerns about health, those in the anti-enhancement camp often make appeals to fairness – either to justify bans on enhancement in sport, or to explain why it is morally wrong to flout those bans that are in place – though there are difficulties with both types of appeal.

When it comes to the enforcement of those restrictions on enhancement that are in place, there are a number of important ethical questions that can be raised. In particular, we can question: (1) whether current levels of funding for anti-doping are appropriate; (2) whether the ‘strict liability’ standard that athletes are held to is justified; (3) whether punishments for doping violations are proportionate; and (4) whether doping policies give due respect to athletes’ privacy rights.

Those who argue for permitting enhancement in sport need not view the use of enhancement as positively good. Nevertheless, a positive moral case for enhancement might be made, either by appealing to the intrinsic value of athletic accomplishments, or to the welfarist benefits of wider use.

Citing this article:
Thau, Tena. Enhancement in sport, 2020, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L159-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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