Entertainment & Sports Law
What’s Unfair Today May Be Fair Tomorrow, and Vice-Versa
Posted Apr 30, 2008 11:00 AM CDT
By Martha Neil
As claims of unauthorized steroids use in professional baseball and a number of other sports threaten the careers and records of world-class athletes—and have created at least potential criminal and civil liability for some for allegedly lying about the issue—other artificial treatments that arguably offer a comparable advantage are entirely permitted, a news agency points out.
Top golfer Tiger Woods, for instance, had eye surgery to improve his vision, and several athletes are known to have used techniques that increased the oxygen in their blood. And, as advances are constantly being made in genetics, physiology and nanotechnology, it appears likely that many other techniques that enhance human performance will also become accepted practice, Bloomberg writes in a lengthy article about the issue.
"We have become a fusion of humanity and technology,'' says Julian Savulescu, an ethics professor at Oxford University in England. "We're not living in the kind of ideal world where we wrestle naked in oil and the strongest man wins. That is just not what professional sport is about today.''
As experts consulted by Bloomberg point out, new technology and techniques can pose a challenge to sports rulemakers, who are called upon to uphold traditional values yet at the same time must adapt to changing expectations as the athletic world adapts to ongoing scientific discoveries.
In a related issue, for instance, a controversy over a new high-tech, low-drag Speedo swimsuit remains unsettled. Although the suit's use has been approved by the sport's governing body, FINA, it has apparently helped a number of athletes set new records and some are calling for it to be banned, notes a recent Voice of America article.
"I don't know how to quantify how much faster it's going to make me, but I do know it will reduce drag, and for the other athletes not wearing a Speedo in that race, they are at a disadvantage," says Natalie Coughlin, a world record-setting swimmer who is sponsored by Speedo.