When considering the use of drugs ethical considerations concerning fair play vs cheating need to be explored. The teacher notes in the HSC PDHPE syllabus are used to guide the learning of content to which they refer. In Improving Performance, use of drugs comes under ethical issues related to improving performance, and our understanding and application of drug use should focus on the ethics and improved performance, not one at the expense of the other.
Our current teacher note says:
Students need only a general understanding of the performance-related effects of, and the harm associated with, using drugs. Ethical considerations – such as fair play versus cheating, whether the drug use is for personal success or because sport is ‘big business’ – need to be explored.
Our last article looked at our understanding of performance-related effects and the harms associated with using drugs (see here). This article focuses on the exploration of fair play vs cheating.
Fair play is defined as the conformity of the athlete to established rules. It is about having an even playing field, where each athlete competes against the other based on their natural ability and training. The use of drugs (and technology) affect this aspect of any competition. Drug use affects performance, and are often used in order to gain an unfair advantage. Drugs can improve strength, power, aerobic capacity, focus, energy production, and much more. The use of a drug to improve performance results in unfair competition conditions that advantage one athlete over the other.
In order to promote fair play organisations such as Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) have been set up to monitor the use of drugs in sport. ASADA enforces the World Anti-Doping Code in order to provide competitions that are based on talent, determination, courage and honesty. ASADA are responsible for: drug testing, education, monitoring national competitions, investigating drug use, and legalities around the use of drugs.
The use of drugs is considered cheating in sport because it provides an athlete with an unfair advantage over their opponent. Sporting competitions have rules and codes, which include regulations around the use of drugs in that sport. Each sport has its own list of banned substances and it is the athlete’s responsibility to know what substances are banned and which are not.
The use of a banned substance (drug) is considered cheating because it is a breach of the rules and regulations around the sport. These rules and regulations are created in order to ensure fair play in the sport and to promote the wellbeing of the athlete. The effects drugs have on performance provides the athlete who is cheating, an avenue to winning, that the other rule abiding athletes do not have. It is similar to breaking any other rule (such as using your hand in football to score a goal), only with greater consequences.
The use of drugs in sport, therefore, is cheating in that sport and does not promote fair play. Fair play vs cheating is about the integrity of sport, and providing every athlete with a chance to achieve their best.