Motion: Performance enhancing drugs in sport should be legalised
Admission: Free of charge and open to all
Speakers: 2 in favour and 2 against
Length of speeches: 5 minutes per speaker
Earlier this summer, Mo Farah, who has just won 10,000, Gold in the World Championships in Beijing, found himself at the centre of a media storm as his coach, Alberto Salazar, was accused of giving his athletes performance enhancing drugs - a claim that Salazar forcefully denies.
It is today accepted as a given that the use of any performance enhancing drugs is unacceptable with the case of Lance Armstrong - the championship winning cyclist and cancer survivor caught using a drug known as EPO - considered a cautionary tale to all other athletes.
Yet, drug bans are actually quite a recent phenomenon. The first ban was imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (of which British hero, Seb Coe has just recently been elected) in 1928, but it wasn't until 1966 that the governing bodies of football and cycling followed suit. In fact the first organisation dedicated to policing the use of drugs in sport, the World Anti-Doping Agency, was only founded in 1999.
Before then, not only was their use legal, it was actively encouraged on the grounds that it enabled athletes to defy their natural limitations and produce athletic spectacles that dazzled the crowds - who in turn paid good money to see them.
You would be hard-pressed today to find a professional athlete to make the case for legalising performance enhancing drugs - for obvious reasons - but does that alone make it a bad idea? Since doping remains so prevalent in sport today, is it not better to make it legal to ensure it is done safely? If our goal is to maintain a level playing field, don't such drugs help bridge the gap between those who were lucky enough to be born with greater athletic ability and those who weren't?
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