The Impact of Doping
It has long been an argument in my family when it comes to the Olympics how far back you can really compare athletes. One side of my family believes that an Olympian anytime before the 1970’s is incomparable to now, because the statistics of times and the athletes continued improvement makes athletes like Jesse Owens matchless to Usain Bolt, and hence “not the best in the world”, while the other side believes that without those original Olympians pushing forward the idea of what was humanly possible we wouldn’t understand just how far the human body and mentality can push itself. Doping helped in an odd way to do this, to show us all exactly what could be done. They went about it in a way that lost them not only athletic integrity, but also that of the win. But the people that watched these doped up athletes compete looked on in wonder, that what was happening, that what they were doing was even possible, not understanding that in these super human feats the system was being cheated. Doping isn’t natural by any means but it pushes our understanding of what the human body is capable of forward. It isn’t meant to be fair, and it gives these athletes an unfair competitive advantage, and it robs them of the integrity of an athlete and that of the win they so desperately want.
To many people the sports arena or fields are not just a place of competition, but also a place of battle. Many would even go so far as to say that athletes are battling themselves in telling themselves they can do something no one has ever done before. So in a weird way their own minds can be their own greatest enemies, or their most formidable weapons. Form is important in the idea of athletic performance, to balance the mind, body, and character, but your willpower and sheer determination must at that point win out over any residual fear of failure, or not achieving the very things you set out to. This will power, or jump, is what many athletes use to achieve many great feats, that some may even call super human. Barthes says that “jump implies a supernatural order in which a man succeeds insofar as a god assists him.” (Barthes, 80) The idea of Jump is glamorous, to be chosen by the gods to win, it is an honor that form alone cannot win. True athletes most often would be offended if asked if the took performance enhancing drugs, as it is seen as an insult. In competition a man measures himself against the elements and terrain he is up against, he compares himself also to the idea of himself in his mind’s eye of what he possibly could do. (Barthes, 81) But when someone takes something that affects their physical athletic form and brings it to a level by which no one else can naturally achieve, he not only cheats himself, but also his sport.
Though doping might lose an athlete his integrity, it can also pushes the understanding of what the human body is not only capable of but also what can be achieved. The mind is a big weapon, but when the body is bigger, stronger, and faster. The drug while in it’s use is cheating the sport it also shows the possibilities. When the East German women’s swim team doped their women they shaved several whole seconds off of the world records for the time, making the world stop and stare in wonder and awe that a feat like this could be done, could even be achieved. Sadly these same athletes went about it in a way that lost them not only athletic integrity, but also that of the win.
To Barthes when an athlete willing accepts drugs and put them into his system he is playing God. In that way the act becomes sacrilegious to him, as you are stealing. A doped athlete steals the win from the rightful owner. He is going against the gods. I tend to agree that by taking performance enhancing drugs you are taking something that wasn’t meant for them. They are going against natural law, and frankly harming their bodies in unknown ways that may have ramifications that could last for years. An athlete is someone who dedicated themselves to their body to being healthy working out and eating properly, for many athletes the idea of putting something into their system that isn’t natural or good for them would be a point of contention for them. They would reject the idea absolutely, as going against everything that they really stand for in their strive for great athletic performance. To many of these athletes the very idea of taking steroids or even being accused of taking them is one of the greatest of insults that could be sent their way. The very idea of doping an athlete in it’s very basic core goes against human nature and natural law.
Doping isn’t natural by any means but it pushes our understanding of what the human body is capable of forward. It isn’t meant to be fair, and it gives these athletes an unfair competitive advantage, and it robs them of the integrity of an athlete and that of the win they so desperately want. When someone takes something that gives them an advantage over someone else by building up their athletic form, when the competitors don’t have the same opportunity, he cheats himself because he will never get to know if he truly deserved that victory then. However, the drug while in its use is cheating the sport it also shows the possibilities of bigger, stronger, and faster athletes. But the win, the accomplishment, is then a failure, it is cheated from them. A doped athlete cheats themselves out of the win as well as their competitors. The win is stolen from whom the gods had chosen and gifted it to. Athletes dedicate their whole lives to staying healthy and being fit, and pursuing perfection in their sport the right way, to most doping is the ultimate insult.