Ethics: Drugs in sport

My latest Primary Ethics lesson topic is about “Drugs in Sport”, which I just finished today after four weeks of lessons. The topic starts by considering what it fair and unfair in sports, and the general concept of cheating, It only really broaches the subject of performance enhancing drugs in the fourth and final lesson (today’s).

It starts by considering caffeine. The kids are year 6, so roughly 11 years old, and most of them have some idea what caffeine is, what foods contain it, and what its effects on the body are. The course material has me tell the kids that caffeine is known to improve athletic performance, and then ask them if they think it would be fair for an athlete to drink a few cups of coffee before a race/game. They all pretty much thought this was fair.

Then I mention that from the 1980s, the World Anti-Doping Authority banned high doses of caffeine in sports, with a level equivalent to 8 cups of coffee or more being illegal. However they reversed this ban in 2004 and now any caffeine level is legal. The curriculum has me ask the question: Why do you think they banned caffeine, and why do you think they removed the ban?

One girl put her hand up and I called on her. She said, “Well, back in the olden days like that, maybe coffee was exotic and really expensive and only the rich athletes could afford it.”


2 Responses to “Ethics: Drugs in sport”

  1. Glen Barnett says:

    While amusingly at variance with the facts of ancient history (the 1980s? That’s like before my *parents* were born, old man), it’s a perfectly reasonable conjecture to consider.

  2. Glen Barnett says:

    (The made up quote in parentheses above is not too far from what someone said to me in a D&D game after I was asked about an old-looking d12 among my dice — it was indeed older than the parents of some of the others at the table)

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