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Critical Thinking Paper

Abeselom Gebreyesus

Abeselom Gebreyesus

Ever since the Olympics began, athletes have found ways to gain an advantage over their
competitors in their sport. Ancient Olympians had special diets, like lizard meat, to gain an
athletic edge. In the 19
century, European cyclists used a variety of drugs, from caffeine to
cocaine, to recover faster from workouts. Using drugs to improve athletically is not new, but it is
becoming more effective as technology and medicine improve. Because of the competitive
nature of the Olympics, the amount of widely accessible performance enhancing drugs on the
market, and the success of athletes who have used steroids and avoided punishment, the
International Olympic Committee must allow performance enhancing drugs in the Olympics to
create a fair athletic playing field.
Doping can be defined as the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports to improve
athletic performance. The word doping is most likely derived from the Dutch word dop, the
name of an alcoholic drink made of grape skins and used by Zulu warriors in order to enhance
their skill and strength in battle. (World Anti-Doping Agency) One of the first documented
stories of doping in the Olympics was when Thomas Hicks participated in the Third Olympic
Games in St. Louis in 1904. During the race, Hicks was given multiple doses of brandy laced
with strychnine. (Lee) The arrival of Nazi Germany created a new type of doping. By the 1930s,
Nazi doctors had created anabolic steroids, testosterone that could be administered through a
syringe – developed with the goal of increasing aggression in their troops and athletes. When the
Olympics were held in Nazi Germany in 1936, Germany won the overall medal count with 89
medals, and the United States came in second with 56 medals. While it is unknown which
steroids were used in the 1936 Olympics circumstantial evidence argues that steroids at least
played a role, particularly considering that four years earlier, at the 1932 Olympics, the United
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States came in first with 102 medals, while Germany came in ninth, with only 20 medals. (Lee)
The dramatic improvement was at least partially attributable to the use of steroids by the German
In 1967, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), citing health risks, banned the use
of PEDs. They created a list of banned substances and created penalties for athletes who were
caught using these performance enhancing drugs. Since then 147 Olympians have tested positive
for a banned substance or have confessed to using a banned substance, and 62 medals have been
revoked by the IOC because of doping allegations. (Burn-Murdoch) Many athletes are willing to
take the risk of using steroids for success in their careers.
One issue with banning performance enhancing drugs is that it is hard to catch an athlete
doping. Drug tests do not catch many experienced athletes, who know how to pass. According to
the IOC, only 8 athletes out of every 11,000 Olympic competitors tests positive for PED use.
This is a small amount, but many people believe that this is only a fraction of the actual amount.
The visiting professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Ivan Waddington said “Drug-
using athletes often beat tests because they have access to specialized medical advice from sports
physicians.” This allows the athletes to easily past tests while continuing to dope.
One possible way that the IOC could solve this problem is to create stronger drug tests
that cannot be cheated on. This method has been tried but is not very effective because the
technology is not strong enough to spot the many different PEDs that an athlete could take.
Technology is rapidly improving and every Olympics the anti-doping technology becomes
stronger. The 2014 Sochi Olympics had the strongest anti-doping effort so far. The IOC planned
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to carry out 2,453 tests in Sochi, including 1,269 pre-competition controls. That’s a 57 percent
increase in pre-games tests from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. (New York Post)
By allowing PED’s in the Olympics, rather than drive doping underground, use of drugs
could be permitted under medical supervision where the process would be safer. Additionally,
legalization of doping would encourage a more sensible, informed use of drugs in sports, leading
to an overall decline in health problems associated with doping. (PBS) Finally, by allowing
medically supervised doping, the performance enhancing drugs used could be assessed for a
clearer view of what is dangerous and what is not. Then, the lethal steroids and performance
enhancing drugs would be removed from the market. Overall, because drug tests are not reliable,
and the International Olympic Committee has not found an alternative to the current method of
drug testing, PEDs should be allowed in the Olympics.
Around the world, performance enhancing drugs are being sold, as it is not hard to obtain
them, and they are not regulated. This means that virtually any athlete could go and get these
drugs. The only way to stop this phenomenon is to allow doping, so it will help lower the risks of
using PEDs and fewer athletes will endanger themselves by doping without medical assistance.
If doping is allowed then the drugs could begin to be regulated by the International Olympic
Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which in turn would make them safer.
Many Olympians have won medals while under the influence of performance enhancing
drugs, and have prompted other athletes to do the same. As long as only a select few use
performance enhancing drugs, they will have an unfair advantage over their competitors. To
level the playing field, all Olympians should have the choice to use performance enhancing
drugs, or risk losing their competitive edge. Evander Holyfield said “Well, when I think of
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steroids I think of an image. You have the advantage over someone, which is a form of cheating.
I guess it wouldn't be right unless it was legal for everybody. Reason it's not legal for everybody
is because it can hurt people seriously.” If performance enhancing drugs were regulated, the
health risk would lessen.
In an age where athletes are raised with the mindset to “go for the gold” people will do
anything to strengthen their chances of winning. Performance enhancing drugs would put the risk
in the hands of the athlete and allow them to make a thoughtful decision on whether or not PEDs
are right for them. It is virtually impossible to keep athletes away from such widely available
substances and athletes have won medals on these drugs. The Olympics are played to test the
boundaries of mankind, and performance enhancing drugs allow athletes to reach their
boundaries. Overall, PEDs must be allowed in the Olympics to help to even the athletic playing

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Works Cited
"Anti-Doping Database." Anti-Doping Facts on Olympic Winter Games. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar.
2014. <>.
"A Brief History of Anti-Doping." World Anti-Doping Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Burn-Murdoch, John. "Doping in Olympic Events: How Does Each Sport Compare?" The
Guardian. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
"Documents." Fight Against Doping. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
Lee, Yu-Hsuan. "Performance Enhancing Drugs: History, Medical Effects & Policy." Harvard
Law Journal (2006): n. pag. Harvard University. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
"Performance Enhancing Drugs and the Modern Olympian | Inside NOVA | PBS." Performance
Enhancing Drugs and the Modern Olympian. Public Broadcasting Service, 30 July 2012.
Web. 30 Mar. 2014. <http://0->.
"Sports and Drugs -" ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.
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"Toughest Drug-testing Program in Olympic History Set For Sochi." New York Post. Associated
Press, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. <
"Why We Should Allow Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sport." Br J Sports Med. N.p., n.d.
Web. 31 Mar. 2014. <>.
"World Anti-Doping Agency." World Anti-Doping Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

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Annotated Bibliography
Burn-Murdoch, John. "Doping in Olympic Events: How Does Each Sport Compare?" The
Guardian. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
<>. This
webpage gave me statistics and graphs about doping in different sports in the Olympics. I
plan to use these facts as supporting evidence.
"Documents." Fight Against Doping. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
This source from the International Olympic Committee gave me access to important
documents like a list of banned substances in the Olympics.
Lee, Yu-Hsuan. "Performance Enhancing Drugs: History, Medical Effects & Policy." Harvard
Law Journal (2006): n. pag. Harvard University. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
<>. This scholarly article went into
depth about the history of doping and its ties to the Olympics. This will help me build up
my arguments in my paper.
"Sports and Drugs -" ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.
<>. This source gave me a variety of tools to strengthen
my paper like statistics, the top arguments on each side, and quotes by experts on the