Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Head To Head

Should athletes be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs?

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 22 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6150

Rapid Response:

Re: Should athletes be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs?

People are using performance enhancing drugs because they want to take unfair advantage over the competitors. It is a major problem and health hazard to the participants. We take punitive approach but and a lot of effort is spent in outsmarting the screening process. There is a possibility that many participants are and coaches not sure about the status of their opponents. So the bias is tilted towards taking the unfair advantage but a major effort is focused to evade detection.

We need to debate on an experimental new normal. Participants won't be punished if they fail drug screening test. They will be simply put to a new group. Let us see the preference of participants and difference in records. A lot of levers should be in a perfectly aligned position to give someone an unfair advantage over opponents. Performance enhancing drugs may be just one of these with very little positive impact on performance. Reliance on performance enhancing drugs may reduce the body’s natural ability to respond to demanding physical requirement.

We have no double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study on this and we also understand the complexity of getting it approved by ethics committee. Let us take an alternative situation to shed some light on this situation.

It is now generally understood that high frequency traders (HFTs) are dominating the equity market, generating as much as 70% of the volume. According to one study, at the current phase of markets’ development, it is theoretically possible for algorithmic trading (and especially high- frequency strategies) to exceed the returns of index strategy. However, in terms of market volatility, it was not found any evidence for a detrimental impact of either algorithmic trading or high-frequency trading.

Well it is not a perfect analogy but we can debate on this unconventional or out of the box idea.

Competing interests: No competing interests

04 April 2015
Dr. Samiran Adhikari
SUN Pharmaceutical Industries ltd, ACME Plaza, Andheri East, Mumbai 400059, India