The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

WC Debate - RR: Performance enhancing drugs should be legal for use in all major sports leagues

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/12/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,921 times Debate No: 54525
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




I'd like to welcome Actionsspeak to this round of the Group B Round Robin debate in the World Cup Debate tournament! It is my pleasure to debate with him, as I have not yet had the opportunity to do so and look forward to it greatly. I wish him luck in this and his other debates.

With that, I'll move into explaining my policy to uphold the above resolution. Before I get into it though, I'd just like the audience to realize that this will not be a debate of my policy versus status quo, but rather one of policy versus policy. Con will present a policy as well in his opening round, and we will debate the merits of those two policies.

So, my policy is pretty self-explanatory. The U.S. will legalize the use of anabolic steroids and hormones of all sorts in major sporting leagues. This will remove any current infrastructure based on detection of their usage in sports, though health examinations and basic protective measures will remain in place.

Brief definition analysis:

"Anabolic steroids, technically known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are drugs that are structurally related to the cyclic steroid ring system and have similar effects to testosterone in the body. They increase protein within cells, especially in skeletal muscles."

Hormones " In this case, we'll mainly be discussing the usage of major groups of hormones like erythropoietin and human growth hormone. I'll clarify each:

"Erythropoietin..., or EPO, is a glycoprotein hormone that controls erythropoiesis, or red blood cell production. It is a cytokine (protein signaling molecule) for erythrocyte (red blood cell) precursors in the bone marrow."

"Growth hormone (GH or HGH)... is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and other animals."

As we are both discussing policies, the burden of proof is shared, as each of us must defend our individual policies while providing reasons why the others' policy is harmful.

The debate will consist of 4 rounds, 8,000 characters a round, with 72 hours for us to make our arguments. The structure of the debate will be as follows:

R1: Acceptance, establishing cases, definitions
R2: Opening arguments
R3: Rebuttal
R3: Rebuttal and conclusion (no new arguments)


I accept the debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Alright, thank you to Actionsspeak for accepting the debate, and now let's get started. As he has not yet explained his case, I hope that he will take the next round to clarify it as I have in the first, but for now, I will focus on providing advantages for my case.

The current system for athletes is such that they already put themselves at great physical risk in endeavoring to be the best. Just as a result of training, athletes suffer intensely. High altitude training is a must for many athletes, as it leads to a much higher production of red blood cells and therefore more transport of oxygen through the body, increasing endurance. However, acclimatisation to high altitude leads to the production of too many red blood cells, making the blood thicker and reducing blood flow. This stresses out the heart, and deprives parts of the body of oxygen. High altitudes also lead to intense weight loss (both from loss of appetite and the body eating itself), risks of weakening the body's immune system, and lengthened times of recovery from muscle damage. That's not to mention the expansive list of altitude illnesses that can result from pressure changes and oxygen deprivation.[1]

Pro athletes train for 5-6 hours a day 6 days a week, training intensely the entire time. Typical athletes have to maintain incredibly high heart rates for long periods of time, stressing their hearts in the process.[2] This all comes in part from the extremely unhealthy diets that these athletes ingest, as well as excess stress.[3] What are the results of all this? Cardiomyopathy, enlarged hearts, wearing down of heart valves.[5] This leads to a much higher likelihood of early and sudden death.[4] This is played out in football, where the average life expectancy of an NFL player is 58 years.[6] Overtraining can lead to massive systemic issues, such as imbalances in the brain, nervous and hormonal systems, upper respiratory illness, compromised immune function, and chronic inflammation.[3] The basis for this harm actually plays out as a result of free radical production, which causes chain reactions that destroy cells in the body.[4] Athletes push themselves through pain and injury, and are expected to do so in order to achieve glory, thus perpetuating health harms, and spurning treatment and prevention efforts.[3]

But the hypocrisy goes beyond training. Athletes are allowed to use any number of dietary supplements, equipment, clothing, and medical treatments to enhance their performance. Vitamin pills are commonly used, megadoses of which have been shown to cause a number of deaths among athletes and significant health harms even at regular doses.[7][8] Many use whole-body Lycra suits, and the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit is thought to be responsible for breaking world records in swimming, increasing the costs required in order to succeed.[9]

Steroids will not significantly add to these harms. More than that, it's hypocritical, and the legal structure of any organization should always endeavor to be consistent. If they're going to allow athletes to engage in practices such as I've detailed above (and, in fact, encourage it), then they should allow similarly damaging practices that the players take upon themselves to engage in. These athletes are allowed to put themselves in harm's way in dozens of other ways (not to mention the numerous ways in which they're made vulnerable to physical injury), and I see no reason why this shouldn't apply to use of drugs.

Why are these allowed while steroids and hormones remain problematic? It's really just a perceptual thing " steroids are viewed as cheating, whereas all of these are effectively reasonable, despite the health harms associated with them. But the reality is that the current system is the one that encourages cheating, not one in which these are legalized.

Why is that? The main reason is that athletes and the organizations behind them have found ways to outwit the system. Athletes pursue alternatives to the usual anabolic steroids and hormones that allow them to fly under the radar.

Designer steroids are "manufactured to closely resemble existing known compounds, but with sufficient chemical diversity to ensure that their detection by the WADA accredited laboratories is more difficult."[10] We manage to find the ones we know exist, but lack detection mechanisms for new designer steroids, detection cannot keep up with the rate of development.

Gene doping is a newer system based on gene therapy, which is meant to insert a gene into a given site in the body, where it will then produce large amounts of steroid/hormone endogenously. It's not safe, and it's untested in humans, yet athletes have already begun to pursue it.[11] They may even already have been used at Sochi.[12]

There are three major harms to this system

1. It's classist. It allows only those who are capable of affording these expensive alternatives to engage in this type of cheating. Only those who can afford the increased expense can rise to the top, something that legalized, cheap steroids could demonstrably improve upon.

2. It damages the credibility of sporting leagues, who often don't detect these for years and even decades, and of athletes and their organizations, who are forced to hide their usage. They can acquire any number of medals over the years, be idolized and immortalized by their records, and then have to be torn down much later, much to everyone's embarrassment. This also ends up damaging the organizations they're associated with. A great example is Lance Armstrong, who started the Lance Armstrong Foundation. They were forced to change their name to Livestrong, and lost the very helpful endorsement of Nike, thus reducing valuable contributions to an organization aimed at supporting cancer victims.

3. It's more dangerous for athletes. At best, they're getting these from reputable sources, where they've only been lightly tested, and thus they're using the athletes as guinea pigs, causing major harms.[10] Since they are normally less effective than what is detectable,[13] they have to take more, exacerbating the problem. And the reality is that most of them won't come from reputable sources, and any number of dangerous substances may exist alongside their choice doping agent. These athletes are far less likely to pursue the far more dangerous, less effective, and more expensive route to success in the absence of a ban. They will be taking thoroughly tested steroids and hormones, often prescribed by doctors and health officials who can monitor them.

Here's another benefit, though it may seem counter-intuitive " steroids provide an opportunity to level the playing field. Individuals produce different levels of testosterone, which can dramatically affect muscle growth.[19] Those with anemia are effectively handicapped by the lack of oxygen shuttling through their bodies. The presence of hormone injections and compounds that control red blood cell production like erythropoietin make it possible for these athletes to keep up.

Con, you have the floor.



I would like to address the debate, however my opponent ask me to clarify the side I will support and it's quite simply the literal opposite of yours. My side is apparent simply based on the title of the debate and our positions, I will be arguing that performance enhancing drugs shouldn't be legal in every major sporting league. Also it seems you have taken care of the basic definition needed to begin the debate and I see no need for additional definitions atleast while the debate is still somewhat simple.

Onto my argument

1. Equality

As these drugs became allowed in sporting leagues, they would increase player production meaning in order to compete you would have to take drugs in order to win. One great example of this would be in cycling many cyclists's resorted to doping to boost their production in order to win the tour de france. So in order to stay equal to the competition Lance Armstrong took drugs alongside them, all may appear equal but in truth the drugs are expensive and discriminate on players on the league who are too poor to acquire the quantity needed to stay on par with opponents. [1]

2. Health Concerns

Their are many bad health effects of anabolic steroids such as[2]:
1. Changes in liver function
2. Infertility
3. Growth of male breasts
4. Retardation in fetus's
5. Death
6. Increased aggressiveness
7. Sleeping disorders
8. Confusion
9. Paranoia
10. Hallucinations
11. A weaker immune system
12. Hair loss

3. The league's rights

The league has the right to determine how the sport is played, for example in the NBA only 5 players may on the court at a time. The league itself should be able to determine drug limitations, as the league determines the game rules. [3]

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to Actionsspeak for clarifying his case and for his opening remarks. This looks to be an interesting debate.

I ask the audience to recognize that even his case is a departure from status quo. He would like to afford the capacity to decide whether steroid and hormone usage is allowed in any given sport to the sporting leagues themselves, and thus take it out of the hands of legislators. Con's third contention made it clear that the league, not lawmakers, should have the right to determine how a sport is played. So what we're really discussing here is whether or not the option should be available to individuals or to sporting leagues, not whether their usage should be legalized or not. This is an important distinction, and one that should be kept in mind that the American legal structures [1] aren't going to be an impediment in either of our cases as this debate goes forward.

Now, onto my rebuttals.

On Equality:

1. Sports aren't about equality. If it was, we wouldn't have winners and losers. The system of competition is meant to elevate those who are better at what they do, whether that's as a result of inherent capacities or how well they use their resources. No one is entitled to play professional sports " it's a privilege requiring enormous sacrifice and massive risk, whether they use steroids or not, and most walk away. If Con wants equality, sports isn't the place to find it.

2. Sports aren't equal. Recall two things I said in R2.

First, I discussed what athletes do in order to get in shape. Flying into the mountains to thicken the blood and increase the flow of oxygen through their bodies isn't something everyone can do before competitions, nor can they all find training facilities above a certain altitude. Even among those that can, not all of them will have access to top of the line equipment, masseuses, trainers, or all the other expenses required to build muscle quickly and efficiently. They don't all have access to the same megadoses of vitamin pills, dietary supplements, equipment, clothing, or medical treatments that are allowed to everyone in status quo. Hell, things like hyperbaric oxygen chambers, which increase the rate of recovery for players, are being purchased by many teams and players at tremendous costs, providing them and only them an appreciable advantage.[2] and would continue to be allowed in Con's case. Why are steroids so special?

Second, I talked about how some people just have higher inherent capacities. They produce more testosterone, HGH or erythropoeitin, they can endure a faster heartbeat, or even the fact that they produce normal blood cells. Not everyone has those advantages, and Con has provided no way for anyone to make up for any such deficiencies. Only my plan seeks to solve for these concerns.

3. Con's case is worse for equality. Black market drugs are more expensive, harder to find,[3] and more dangerous, but more on that last point later. But you can look at this point one of two ways.

You can accept that steroid usage causes more steroid usage, in which case Con's case is more detrimental there's already a system in place where athletes feel the need to use steroids and hormones to succeed. The only difference is that they can't use the cheapest, safest, and most well-known steroids prescribed directly by doctors at specific doses and lower cost. Con provides absolutely no reason to believe that legalization will increase usage over status quo. Even if he does, recognize that equality is only a larger problem within his case and in the status quo. The only reason why an advantage such as steroids would be considered unfair is if they're unequally distributed, but as I pointed out in the previous round, the distribution is currently as unequal as it gets. Using basic steroids and hormones instead of what's available on the black market will lower, not raise, the barrier for entry, and increase fairness to all athletes.

Or you can notice that this argument has no warrant. Con asserts that steroid usage among some athletes will spread to other athletes who want to compete. This is nothing more than an assertion, and one which is not well explained. Mandatory testing programs among MLB players have revealed that a whopping 5-7% of athletes were using steroids[4], which means 93-95% of athletes were able to play at a very high level without coercion. There's no reason to believe that legalization will cause these numbers to balloon out of control. The uncertainty regarding who is using steroids/hormones in status quo, if anything, creates more impetus to use than a transparent system where everyone who does use does so openly.

4. Con also allows sports leagues to create their own barriers to entry for those with anemia, low testosterone production, reduced muscle growth, and anything else that puts them at a marked disadvantage. He allows individual leagues to discriminate against these groups, harming any sense of equality by denying access to those who could easily keep up if they had access to the available resources.

On Health Concerns:

1. Athletes are already forced into an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle and die young. I made this clear in the previous round, but there's no significant difference between any of the health harms presented by Con and the ones I presented in R2. Con will have to address my point that these harms are non-unique and my hypocrisy arguments as well in the next round in order to win this point.

2. Health concerns are worse in an environment where black market drugs are the only ones being used. The reality is that the health concerns are far more excessive using designer steroids and gene doping, as I pointed out last round. Worse yet, his case only exacerbates these harms by legalizing their usage in the general community, but not in all sports. In my case, incentive to use designer steroids and gene doping is erased due to their expense and ineffectiveness by comparison. Con encourages the legal usage of the most dangerous doping substances.

3. Each athlete accepts these health concerns the moment they take these drugs. There's no reason why athletes shouldn't be able to take these concerns on themselves, especially if they know about them in advance. Since Con's case encourages athletes to pursue drugs with unknown health harms, his forces a lower capacity to consent than mine does.

On "The league's rights":

1. There's no impact here. Con doesn't explain how changes in the way sports are played is actually harmful. Even if this is certain to happen, the lack of a harm makes it unimportant.

2. There's no warrant for this claim. Con doesn't explain how a change in one rule affects another one. The only possible warrant is a slippery slope fallacy, which has no rational basis in this debate. Worse yet, even if it was true that one rule change could link to another, the rules he's trying to link have nothing in common. The rules of what an athlete can do to their own bodies have no effect on whether any player can disregard the basic rules of how a sport is played in competition.

3. The league doesn't have a right to deny access based on any person's characteristics, training regimen, or nutritional intake. This is one of the very few influences they have on what athletes can take and use for playing their sports, and it's done with extreme hypocrisy based on shaky reasoning. Leagues should not be allowed to spurn athletes who they think have an unfair advantage based on other characteristics, and yet Con wants us to believe that this is crossing some special line.

With that, I leave it to my opponent to rebut my case and respond to these arguments.



I had begin writing an argument, but in truth I greatly respected my opponent's arguments and found myself swayed, I concede best of luck to you and TN05 go far in the WC!!
Debate Round No. 3


I graciously accept Actionsspeak's concession. I greatly appreciate his willingness to debate this with me, and I think it's very big of him to concede, despite the fact that he made points that I felt were reasonable points of debate on this contentious subject. I hope that we will have another opportunity to debate in the future, but for now I honor his concession, and I urge voters to duly respect it by awarding him a conduct point in their votes.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by whiteflame 7 years ago
I just realized that I put [19] in the text for the final source instead of [14]. Please just apply source 14 to the one labeled 19.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Wylted 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession
Vote Placed by lannan13 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession.

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