Inside ‘Sport, Ethics and Leadership’: The Issue of Drugs

October 27th, 2017 | by Jeffrey R. Mitchell
Inside ‘Sport, Ethics and Leadership’: The Issue of Drugs


A total of eight home runs were hit last night in game two of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers.  The power surge most likely had everything to do with the beneficial tandem of unusual warm weather stifling Southern California and the expected heroics of the October Classic and much less to do with performance enhancing drugs.

Give due credit to Major League Baseball (MLB), which has expanded testing and instituted a strict penalty system for players who violate its performance enhancing drug policy.  Wednesday’s long ball display suggests only an outlier in what is an undeniable dip in home runs in MLB since the peak home run season of 2000 and the downfall of the steroid era of the late 1990s.  

Nevertheless, the concept of performance enhancement remains relevant in baseball and all of sport.  Included inSport, Ethics and Leadershipwhich was released in July 2017, is an examination of the ethics associated with performance enhancement. Co-authors include Santa Clara University Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations, Jeff Mitchell; sport ethics scholar Jack Bowen; sports attorney Ron Katz; former Santa Clara University law school dean Don Polden; and sports agent Rick Walden.

CollegeAD continues to run a series of excerpts from the book.  Written by Ron Katz, this week’s excerpt comes from the book’s seventh chapter, “Social, Legal and Ethical Issues of Performance Enhancement.”


The problems associated with use of drugs that are designed and consumed to enhance athletic performance have existed in sport from time immemorial.   Professional and amateur sports teams, leagues and international competitions, such as the Olympics, have experienced scandals about competitors’ use of performance-enhancing drugs, and these scandals have significantly harmed the reputation of all concerned.  

Although performance-enhancing drugs are one of the most important topics in sports and sports ethics, there is little controversy about their use.  Virtually everyone opposes them on ethical grounds because they undermine the very purpose of sports, which is to find out who is the best competitor on a level playing field.  By definition, performance-enhancing drugs tilt the field in a way that helps the player cheat.

The use of such drugs by professional athletes has materially contributed to the use of them by young athletes, with the result that some youth athletes are harming their health.  The use of artificial enhancements in sports raises issues of integrity of competition, unfairness among competitors, and public health and safety.  

As the rewards for successful athletic performance increase through prize purses, television coverage, sponsorships, and professional players’ contracts, the demand for the latest and best performance enhancement has been growing.  Athletes age and, over time, lose their competitiveness, so their resort to artificial enhancements is a common and growing problem in athletics.  

Further, drawing the line on what exactly is performance enhancement is difficult.  As technology and medical innovation develop, it has become increasingly difficult to detect and punish drug cheats.  Given these challenges, is the current regulatory system (both nationally and internationally) sufficient or should more stringent enforcement regimes be implemented?  If so, what agencies or organizations should be expected to create new enforcement mechanisms?


You can pick up a copy of Sport, Ethics and Leadership and save 20%* plus free shipping at To apply your discount, enter FLR40 in your shopping cart.

*This offer expires November 30, 2017, and only applies to print book orders placed via

Jeffrey R. Mitchell About Jeffrey R. Mitchell
Jeffrey R. Mitchell is the Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations at Santa Clara University. With a diverse background in intercollegiate athletics administration, Mitchell has experience directing units responsible for revenue generation, media relations and communications, ticketing and marketing, academic support, business operations, and NCAA compliance. A four-year collegiate baseball player, Mitchell earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s in Business Administration from Millsaps College. He also earned a J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

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