Monday, August 11, 2008

The freedom to enhance

It’s possible, of course, that gene doping or other techniques could turn out to be much riskier. But is that a reason to ban them? Society has always allowed explorers and adventurers to take risks in exchange for glory. The climbers who died on K2 this month ascended it knowing that one climber dies for every four who scale it.

If elite adult athletes were allowed to push the limits of human performance in return for glory, they might point the way for lesser mortals to coax more out of their bodies. If a 50-year-old sprinter could figure out how to run as fast as her 25-year-old self, that could be useful to aging weekend warriors — or any aging couch potato.

I’d like to see what would happen if someone started a new anything-goes competition for athletes over 25. If you have any ideas for how to run it or what to call it — MaxMatch? UltraSports? Mutant Games? — submit them at nytimes.com/tierneylab. Maybe fans would object to these “unnatural” athletes. But maybe not. The fans, after all, include people with laser-corrected eyes, chemically whitened teeth and surgically enhanced anatomies. Not to mention the pharmacopeia coursing through our veins.
--John Tierney, NYT, on the case for legalizing performance-enhancing drugs

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