Monday, January 28, 2008

Where is authenticity in the Olympics?

I just finished reading this article The Pharmacy of the Future and You which raised the question of how we would deal with pharmaceuticals that changed our social behavior. The article goes on to question the notion of 'authenticity' and so argue that it will become normal for people to reconstruct their behavior.

This lead me to think about the Olympics where athletes use, or not, performance enhancing drugs. From the start let me say I oppose the use of these drugs because they improve performance at the expense of health. However, it did raise the issue of why we find a competition between pharmaceutical lab results unsatisfying and a competiton by the scientifically monitored, calipered, sports -psychologised athlete acceptable. In several sports, gymanastics and distance bicycling, the training and competition regimes are deleterious to the health of the athletes. Tour de France cyclists are the only group of endurance athletes that I know of that actually shorten their lifespans by participating in their sport; the dietary restrictions on young female gymnasts has been linked to osteoporosis and endochrine-related illnesses. On those grounds, why is drug-use singled out for censure?

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"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster