Just to be clear: I'm not advocating that steriods be legalized. In fact, I think that's probably a terrible idea. I'm simply puzzled. The professional sports establishment is in the midst of a major witchhunt against alleged users of performance enhancing drugs. But no one--so far as I can tell-- has articulated a coherent explanation for what should be banned and why.
"James," one of the commenters on the "Free Fernando Vina" post brought up the issue of Lasik eye surgery. That's a very good example. It is perfectly legal for an athlete to undergo "performance enhancing" eye surgery, that moves him from, say, the 50th to the 95th percentile in sight. It is not legal for that same athlete to take "performance enhancing" hormones that move his testosterone from the 50th to the 95th percentile--even thought the additional advantage of the eye surgery may be greater than the additional advantage conferred by the exogenous testosterone. Now, there may be a perfectly valid distinction between those two interventions. But what is it? Shouldn't it be spelled out before we drum Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds out of the Hall of Fame?
Similarly, it is perfectly legal for an athlete to get painkillers after an injury, so he can continue playing (and, I would point out, risk further injury.) It is not legal for that athlete to take Human Growth Hormone, in order to speed his recovery from that same injury. Again, why? What is the distinction? Why is it okay to play hurt but not okay to try and not play hurt? There may be a perfectly valid reason here as well. But don't we need to spell out what it is?
I realize that the people running major league baseball and the NFL are not philosophers. But the intellectual sloppiness with which this current crusade has been conducted is appalling.