The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is a slippery slope indeed.
Olympic athlete Marion Jones was stripped of her medals and wiped off the record books today due to her use of steroids during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. She admitted in October to using steroids in 2000 prior to the Olympics, and had returned her medals to the Olympic Committee before today’s announcement.
Not only has Jones lost her medals and records, but she’s facing the very real possibility of being banned from all future Olympic games.
Jones’ irresponsibility may have also jeopardized the gold medals of her relay teammates. She will be sentenced on January 11, and could face between three to six months in jail.
With several athletes this year being dragged through the mud for drug use, one must wonder: does the use of performance-enhancing drugs ruin the reputation of popular sports exclusively? Do we as a society frown upon athletes that use steroids while some musicians take “art-enhancing” drugs on the regular just to attend rehab and be awarded with a big thumbs-up from the public?
The situations aren’t exactly the same – drug-inspired art is subjective at best while muscle-building drugs increase your chances of winning a gold medal exponentially – but when do we start calling it a double-standard? Should the use of drugs be grounds for stripping a musician of their Grammys and actors of their Oscars? Do we prize certain ways of using drugs to others in entertainment?
Using the old Milli Vanilli blueprint, it seems the only way to be stripped of a Grammy is to have not performed the song you won the award for. And the Oscars? Forget it: everybody loves a happy ending, and fact-checking isn’t exactly the Academy’s strong suit.
This isn’t meant to be a pro-drug or anti-drug stance; I just wonder if certain rules in one facet of entertainment contradict the other.
People love to see superhuman acts of strength and creativity – as long as the curtain is never lifted and the secret is never exposed. If we all held sports in the same esteem as the circus (high-flying acts of athleticism aided by mystery), criticism would be held to a minimum.