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Performance Enhancement: Where Do We Draw the Line? Part II – The Guidelines

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Developing guidelines to address issues apparent in Part I of Performance Enhancement: Where Do We Draw the Line is certainly easier said than done; the complexities are obvious. What I would like to do is create a starting place, a beginning, from which we (and athletes) can more easily determine the point of performance enhancement that must never be crossed. The hope is to allow athletes the ability to continue striving toward their full athletic potential without risking their character and integrity or their physical/mental/emotional wellbeing. Below is my list, with explanations, of what these guidelines might look like:
1. Banned/Illegal Substances or Practices:
Anything prohibited by a sports governing body for its sport, or deemed illicit/illegal by society, constitutes a breach of that line between appropriate and inappropriate performance enhancement. This is an absolute, with no flexibility whatsoever.
2. Chemical Supplementation:
Any non-banned legal chemical substance that
- helps maintain normal healthy functioning (vitamins, minerals, other nutrients)
- help the body recover from the rigors of strenuous training (bringing the body back to a normal state without causing unnatural physical changes)
- are part of a person’s natural chemical make-up (and help maintain that natural balance)
- do not have detrimental physical, mental, or emotional side effects
are all deemed appropriate.
However, any chemical substance that has unhealthy/damaging side effects, creates an unfair advantage, and/or actually changes an athlete’s physical make-up, thus changing the person and enhancing athletic performance (even if considered “legal” or “not banned”), are all considered a breach. This would include, but not be exclusive to, chemical precursors that, when used, stimulate increased levels of anabolic/androgenic hormones.
3. Medical Conditions:
Any substances prescribed for legitimate medical conditions, while under doctor’s care and supervision, are deemed legal as long as:
- Amount taken complies with doctor’s prescription
- Performance enhancing substances in the patient do not exceed normal levels
- Any anabolic/androgenic and/or performance enhancing effects are limited and not significant enough to cause a true imbalance in the competitive field of play or advantage for the athlete in question
4. Surgical Procedures:
Any surgical procedures performed on an athlete must constitute a medical need and be for the sole purpose of regaining normal functioning due to injury or abnormality. In addition, these procedures can only be recommended by a medical professional with expertise in the field pertaining to said surgery. Examples include (but are not exclusive to) ACL repair, Tommy John Surgery, arthroscopic cartilage repair, or any other surgical repair or technique that brings the body back to a normal functioning state.
5. Equipment Advancements:
Any improvements and/or innovations in equipment that are available to all, do not change the actual nature of the sport, do not have detrimental side effects, and are judged appropriate by the governing body of that sport are considered acceptable forms of performance enhancement.
This list of guidelines is not thought to be comprehensive and is considered a work in progress. I am sure that additions, subtractions, and/or adjustments will need to take place based on input from others and on future advancements not presently determinable. In all probability, I will be changing or adapting this list as time goes on and hope that others reading these guidelines will come up with points not yet considered. All comments welcome.