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Conceptual Problems with Performance Enhancing Technology in Sport

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 August 2013

Emily Ryall
Affiliation:
University of Gloucestershireeryall@glos.ac.uk
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Extract

The majority of – usually moral – problems inherent in elite sport, such as whether athletes should be able to take particular drugs, wear particular clothing, or utilise particular tools, arguably stem from a conceptual one based on faulty logic and competing values. Sport is a human enterprise that represents a multitude of human compulsions, desires and needs; the urge to be competitive, to co-operate, to excel, to develop, to play, to love and be loved, and to find meaning in one's existence. From the perspective of an amateur athlete, this pluralism is possible. When one is involved in athletics at the lower echelons, the values that one holds in relation to sport are fluid and flexible; they are prioritised according to a myriad of other influences that are contingent to a particular situation. As such, the reasons that the general population participate in athletic activities and the values they consequently ascribe to it are complex and wide-ranging and thus fall into the sociological realm. The philosophical problem with value in sport is found at the highest level, the professional platform, where discordant values are espoused, particularly the value of ever increasing quantifiable performance. The athletic events at the Olympic Games are the archetypal manifestation of this Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger) aphorism and yet when taken to its logical conclusion becomes evidently absurd.

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Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the contributors 2013 

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References

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4 This is demonstrated by Bernard Suits (1978) in his conception of utopia which argues game-playing as the ideal of existence.

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8 Heidegger actually calls the way we conceive and relate to the world ‘enframing’ but the term ‘technological attitude’ is a helpful indication of what this means. Heidegger, Martin, (trans. & intro. Lovitt, William). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper Row, 1977)Google Scholar 12.

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17 Op. cit. note xvi, 43–44.

18 This practice entails the blood being removed from the body to be reinserted at a later date once the body has replenished its lost blood cells. The effect is an increased number of red blood cells which then are able to hold an increased amount of oxygen.

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21 The fears manifested in such language are explored more in Ryall, EmilyThe language of genetic technology: metaphor and media representation’, Continuum, 22 (3) (2008). 363373CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

22 IAAF ruling 144.2 It has since been further amended to ‘the use of any technology or appliance that provides the user with an advantage which he would not have obtained using the equipment specified in the Rules.’

23 Arbitration CAS 2008/A/1480 Pistorius v/ IAAF, award of 16 May 2008. 7. <www.jurisprudence.tas-cas.org/sites/CaseLaw/.../1480.pdf> July 2012.

24 Op. cit. note xxiii. 8

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30 Whether the faster pitching action is a result of the surgery itself or attention to a reconditioning programme and other factors is disputed.

31 Suits maintained that sport was a sub-set of game-playing but with the additional criteria of physical skill and stability (to set it apart from ‘fads’ or ‘crazes’ such as hula-hoop).

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