As you know, it is illegal for athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs. If you get caught, especially prior to participating in a major sporting event, it could potentially spell the end of your career. But what if taking PEDs and undergoing certain medical procedures that are akin to taking steroids can aid in your recovery? Would it be considered cheating?
According to experts, with the advancement of medical technology, the line between Sports Medicine and performance enhancement has been blurred. These days, it is hard to pinpoint exactly why an athlete is taking drugs or undergoing a particular procedure and put their reasoning in a specific category.
For example, there’s plate-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. In this procedure, a doctor takes a blood sample from an athlete, isolates the platelets, and concentrates them. Then, the doctor injects the platelets back into the injured body part of the athlete to help it heal. Professional sports governing bodies allow such procedure and don’t deem it illegal.
Now, let’s take a look at another scenario. Instead of the platelets, the doctor isolates the Red Blood Cells, concentrates them, and injects them back to the athlete to increase the capability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen. This, in turn, will improve the athlete’s endurance. Since the procedure works this way, this “blood doping” process is considered illegal.
There are many other examples of scientific or medical treatments that toe the line between healing a person and improving their performance. For instance, athletes can undergo Lasik, a procedure that reshapes the cornea, to improve eyesight, or use tissue donated by donors to replace their torn ligaments.
According to Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon, and director of MUSC Sports Medicine, the distinction between legal and illegal treatments these days is arbitrary. It’s okay to use the same procedure to treat a particular injury, but not to enhance performance or improve their ability to heal faster.
He also pointed out that such standards apply only to athletes. Citing a podcast by author Malcolm Gladwell on B.S. Report with Bill Simmons, he argued that an injured athlete isn’t allowed to take human growth hormone (HGH) to heal and recover faster so they can quickly get back to the game. On the other hand, a construction worker is free to take HGH so he can quickly resume his job. Both have the same physical needs, but they are treated differently.https://customclinichq.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Ep104MalcolmGladwell.mp3
Dr. Geier said we’re living in a world where fundamentally, there’s no difference between sports medicine and performance enhancement. While he’s not encouraging sports organization to stop testing for performance-enhancing drugs/procedures and make them legal, he said he just wanted them to reconsider their stance and look at this issue from a different perspective.
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