Is doping in sports unfair? Here’s how drug and tech enhancements could level the playing field

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Credit: Washington Post
Credit: Washington Post

Sports regulators have a tough job sniffing out the latest enhancement technologies because coaches, trainers, and athletes are so adept at finding new ways to add a few centimeters of distance, shave a few tenths of a second off their time, or increase a judge’s score to bring that face-on-a-box-of-Wheaties win. So why not officially open the floodgates of techno-scientific enhancement, to make it a little more interesting? 

With the potential cancellation of the Olympics barely making headlines, and with viewership already in significant decline, would allowing enhancement make the Olympics more relevant? Would opening the competition to anyone wearing a springy exoskeleton suit to propel them down the track 50 percent faster than human legs alone actually make the games even more compelling? What about altering their genetics to enhance a freakish amount of red blood cells to ferry more oxygen to their muscles? And importantly, would changes to the games still be able to capture what it is that we appreciate about competitive sports in the first place? 

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Now is the time to have to have frank conversations about what we want our sports to look like in the future. And, we must consider that while our ideas about fairness in competition are changing, that might not be a bad thing. 

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