Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Long story short: As Sarah Schorno of Strikes and End Zones tells it, former IOC second-in-command Dick Pound took part in a debate last night over whether performance-enhancing drugs should be allowed in sports, and didn't have much to say. He might even have inadvertently admitted that 'roids are OK, if they would just change the rules:

"The strongest point on the side arguing against drugs in sports was the effect allowing performance enhancers would have on youth athletes. But the counterpoint to that, while slightly simple and unrealistic, was education. Much like alcohol, we teach children the pros and cons of using and allow them to make an educated decision on whether to partake when they become adults. Now, of course it's not a black and white issue and there will never be an easy answer.

But while in this debate the arguments against drug use were stale, the arguments for it were fresh, researched, and made me think twice about what I came into the debate believing, which was that PEDs should not be allowed in sports.

"Surprisingly, the weakest arguments came from Pound who repeatedly used the 'it's against the rules and it's unethical' point. The highlight of the evening for me came when, as a 'respected' member of the media I was allowed to ask a question of the panel. Naturally, I chose Pound and asked him if, taking the legal issues out of it, he saw a difference between an athlete using PEDs to stay in the game and an actress getting cosmetic surgery and Botox injections to stay in the movies.

"His response was 'You're an idiot.' Well, not really. But it may as well have been. He sidestepped the question, showing such contempt for me that you'd think I had personally sold crack to his kids. He refused to address the issue directly, and instead rambled on about it being against the rules.

"Not satisfied, I pressed further. 'So what you’re saying is that if it were not against the rules, you would have no ethical problem with an athlete using steroids?' I asked. 'No, I would not,' he replied." (Emphasis mine.)
That's disappointing to read that Pound apparently (important qualifier) didn't bring more to the table than to say "against da rules" like he was the goalie in Slap Shot.

In all honestly, a common visceral response has been to side with Pound when he goes all high dudgeon on the pro sports establishments and their carnival clowns in the media (especially the ones with a preference for high collars) start hammering away at him as someone who's out of touch. However, after reading Schorno's piece, it seems like there's a point. Society's at a point where saying something is against the rules doesn't cut much ice, no matter what kind of mantle you have in the sports world.

(There's no word if the the debate featured Eddie Izzard doing his comedy bit about the Stoned Olympics.)

Debate recap: Should PEDS be allowed in sports? (Sarah Schorno,


Big V said...

I believe the Education argument is very unrealistic. If they allowed the use of PED's everyone would jump on the bandwagon, teenagesrs especially. Wouldn't this pose a health risk?

I also feel that PED's would eliminate the "Natural Athlete". No competition win would be measured by who is the better athlete but rather who takes the better drugs. The only way to know that the best PERSON won is to have everyone on the same playing field.
Another argument against PED's is all the rich people will get the drugs. If you are a great athlete but dont have the expendable cash... well you will never become a world class athlete because someone else with similar tallent will be able to buy their win.

Kind of sad that Mr. Pound couldn't come up with a better argument.

sager said...

And, of course, we demand that our athletes seem to be of us, not of Better Living Through Chemistry. What's the biggest complaint about athletes today? That they don't seem to be as personable as their counterparts a generation ago, that they seem cut off from reality by their money and their fame.

That arguably would only be exacerabated once PEDs are out in the open once and for all. Who wants to watch walking chem labs?

Excellent points, Big V... we saw in the '80s with Ben Johnson what the "suits" will do once the body is of no use to them anymore.