Pros and Cons of Drug Testing in Sports


Since sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of the gold and world record after the 1988 Olympics, drug use among athletes has become a hot issue, though Johnson was not the first athlete caught doing such a shady practice. While many people agree on the argument that taking steroids to win is unethical and illegal, there are still those who make arguments in the other direction. There are many pros and cons to drug testing in sports, with both sides pointing to valid opinions.

List of Pros of Drug Testing in Sports

1. It helps secure the reputation of sports.
Many branches of sports have all had their reputations damaged by competitors using some types of illegal drugs. As athletes are supposed to be role models for the youth, it is important that they should go by the rules, especially the unwritten laws of good sportsmanship. As you can see, any sports personality involved in the act would lose awards, sponsorship deals and will even face a fine or ban.

2. It prevents unfair advantage.
Some athletes take drugs to falsely improve performance and eventually gain an unfair advantage over their competitors, misrepresenting the true nature of sports, which is supposed to determine the best individual at a certain competition naturally.

3. It helps athletes maintain optimum performance.
Many athletes have received fines and bans for taking illegal recreational drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine. Now, these drugs can reduce performance, rather than improve it. While it is obvious that drug use should not be encouraged in any event, there is a significant difference between taking something that is illegal in order to win and other rationales.

List of Cons of Drug Testing in Sports

1. It can cause drug use among athletes to get worse.
While drug testing methods have become more sophisticated, illegal drugs that athletes are taking have also gotten more complicated to avoid detection, which means that a dangerous practice has also become worse. This is why some sports scientists suggest drug use to be made legal to stop this habit’s dangerous aspect. In fact, this argument has also been pushed to try and legalize recreational drugs, though it has not been successful—probably for good reason.

2. It might find certain athletes to be testing positive, while they are actually innocent.
Some famous sports personalities who were banned for drug use were actually taking something innocent, such as cough medicine, without realizing that it contained a controlled substance. Regardless of whether this excuse is true or not, it is seen as unfair to force certain athletes to battle through an illness without relief just because of this policy.

3. It is not always accurate.
There were some cases where athletes were tested positive for a drug, only for the results to be revoked afterwards due to faulty tests. When this happens, these athletes had struggled building back their reputation under false pretenses.

Based on the pros and cons listed above, do you think that drug testing is generally beneficial for the world of sports, or not?