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Sports and Doping | Munk Debates

SEASON TWO - EPISODE #37

Sports and Doping

Be it resolved, the time has come to embrace a high-tech/gene enhanced/drug boosted Olympics of sport.

Guests
Julian Savulescu
Angela J. Schneider

About this episode

Who can forget these memorable moments in sports when reigning world champions lost their titles, medals, and invitations to compete as punishment for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs? But while most sports experts agree these high-profile scandals represent just the tip of the iceberg, some say the time has come to accept that doping is part and parcel of the spectacle of elite sport. They argue that the days where athletes won medals based on natural genetic advantage and dedicated training are long gone and that the World Anti Doping Administration’s push for clean athletes is wishful fantasy. The future of sport is one where athletes will push their physiological boundaries with the help of steroids, hormones, and yes even gene editing, embracing the high-tech innovation that is revolutionizing every other aspect of our lives.

Anti-doping crusaders respond that a sporting world that allows unrestricted access to performance enhancement drugs is one that threatens athletes’ lives and spells the end of sport as we have played and watched it for thousands of years. They argue that the most powerful reason to ban doping is that it undermines the skill development and overcoming of physical and mental obstacles that lies at the heart of fair play. Substances that provide immediate athletic advantages without any work or struggle represents the beginning of a joyless and pointless brave new world in sports.

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Guests

Julian Savulescu

"We should put athletes at the center of this. But if it were the case that they understood that doping was safe, as well as performance-enhancing, my belief is they'd vote for it. I certainly would."

Julian Savulescu

"We should put athletes at the center of this. But if it were the case that they understood that doping was safe, as well as performance-enhancing, my belief is they'd vote for it. I certainly would."

Professor Julian Savulescu is an award-winning ethicist and moral philosopher, recognised internationally for his world-leading research into the ethics of future technologies. Trained in neuroscience, medicine, and philosophy, he has held the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford since 2002.

In 2003, he founded the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, ranked as one of the world’s top research centres in Practical Ethics with 25 researchers working on the ethics of AI and big data, genetic technologies, and neuroethics.

His latest book, Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships, co-authored with Brian Earp, was published by Stanford University Press and Manchester University Press in January 2020.

Angela J. Schneider

"There are many things on the banned list that are really minor. But some forms of doping, like genetic doping, make taking steroids look like eating Smarties. It's on a totally different level."

Angela J. Schneider

"There are many things on the banned list that are really minor. But some forms of doping, like genetic doping, make taking steroids look like eating Smarties. It's on a totally different level."

Dr. Angela J. Schneider is the Director for the International Centre for Olympic Studies and is a professor in Kinesiology at Western University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Her research interests are philosophy and ethics in sport, Olympic Studies, and women and sport. Dr. Schneider was the first director for the World Anti-Doping Agency for Ethics and Education and is a former Assistant Dean for Ethics and Equity for the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University. She an Olympian and won a silver medal in rowing for the women's Coxed Fours in the 1984 Olympics for Canada.

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