Is There a Case for Legal Doping in Sports?

Some are beginning to call for regulating – rather than banning – doping in professional sports.

By Alain StephensSeptember 29, 2015 1:57 pm

Cyclist and Texas native Lance Armstrong has settled a decade-long lawsuit with a Dallas-based promotions company who demanded Armstrong pay them back millions of dollars in bonuses for winning the Tour de France and subsequently having those titles stripped amid a blood doping scandal.

The resolution marks at least the third time since his doping confession that Armstrong has agreed to settle a fraud case against him – he’s still got one case pending.

Performance-enhancing drugs have become so much a part of the professional sports world that a growing number of people appear to be making the case that sports might be much better off not fighting – but regulating.

Dr. Carlos Hamilton, Jr. is an endocrinologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and a former member of the World Anti-Doping Agency. He is unequivocal in his stance on doping in sports.

“The use of them and the prescribing of them by physicians is against the law,” he says.

If a doctor does break the law by prescribing performance-enhancing drugs for other than therapeutic reasons, the consequences are severe – they stand to lose their medical license, Hamilton says.

“This is more than a theoretical concern or sociological phenomena,” he says. “The laws would have to be changed before we could consider whether this is truly ethical or not.”

Hamilton says professional athletes can use drugs that young people shouldn’t, because it can cause irreversible physical damage, not to mention the message it may send about condoning cheating.

“When young people see them using drugs, especially when they’re cheating to use them, then this send a message to the young person,” Hamilton says.