In 2004, the academic Lincoln Allison wrote a provocative essay questioning the ban against performance-enhancing drugs. Apart from being ineffectual, he argued, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s pursuit of dopers ran contrary to the ideal of Citius, Altius, Fortius – Faster, Higher, Stronger.
nstinctively, most sports fans rejected Allison’s position as high treason. Even the author himself now admits that he was playing devil’s advocate, out of frustration at the simplistic positions occupied by so many administrators.
Yet this debate will surely be revived by the recent wave of doping stories, from Lance Armstrong’s confession, to the Australian Crime Commission’s revelations about “widespread” use of PEDs across the national sporting landscape.
Optimists point to the good news that the law enforcers are at least collecting a few scalps. We would not even be hearing about these cases, they argue, if the cop-robber approach was failing.
Pessimists reply that this is still only the tip of the iceberg – it is just that the iceberg is far larger than we naive observers had realised. If they are right, we could be moving swiftly along the road to a science-fictiony future in which our athletes become – almost literally – a different species to the rest of us.