A SCOTS sports scientist has caused a storm in the middle of the Winter Olympics by calling for performance enhancing drugs to be legalised.
Professor Andy Miah, Chair in Ethics and Emerging Technologies at the University of the West of Scotland, believes allowing steroid use would mean attention could be focused on managing the health risks they pose.
He said: “We need to recognise that enhancements are becoming more prevalent and sport will soon need to embrace them more fully.”
But UK Anti-Doping, which ensures sports bodies comply with the World Anti-Doping Code, dismissed his claims, insisting: “Doping is cheating.”
Moral questions should “disappear”
More than 30 athletes were banned from the Vancouver Olympics for breaking anti-doping rules.
Prof Miah, who lectures at the UWS, claims he wants drugs to be permitted so more track and field records can be broken.
He said: “While there may be widespread support for cleansing sport of doping, we should consider why we spend time prohibiting performance enhancement in sports when what we ask athletes to do is break the known limits of human capability.
“This is what elite sports require, so athletes should be permitted the use of whatever means are available to them to optimise the chance of this taking place.”
Writing from Vancouver, where he chaired a drugs debate at the weekend, he called for moral questions to “disappear.”
He said: “Athletes are technological beings.
“Their performances are already lab-generated, with or without doping.
“Some technologies we like and consider valuable, like treadmills or hypoxic chambers.
“Others, we think are fiendish, like steroids.
“However, if only we made steroids legal, that moral judgment would disappear and we could focus on managing the health risks they pose, rather than rushing simply to condemn athletes for using them.
“Overall, we need to recognise that enhancements are becoming more prevalent and sport will soon need to embrace them more fully.”
A spokesman for UK Anti-Doping hit back at Prof Miah’s doping claims.
They said: “We believe doping is cheating and is therefore fundamentally opposed to the spirit of sport.
“We also believe athletes have the right to compete on a level playing field – which is simply not possible where doping is concerned – and we protect their right to do so.”
Rather than introduce drugs to sport, the national agency sportscotland insisted it remains committed to wiping them out.
A spokesman said: “We believe it is crucial to the enjoyment of sport that all individuals participating in Scottish sport also condemn doping to ensure it is eliminated from the sporting environment.”