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Cavalier defines utilitarian theory as a norm-related theory which seeks to justify of disqualify actions depending entirely on the consequences caused. The choices of actions are made depending entirely on the foreseen consequences. The theory requires individuals to forsake their own personal interests while considering the interest of others. Its basic principle is majorly the need to maximize the happiness for all the people that are affected by the action in question (Cavalier, 2011).

Cavalier (2011) noted that even though the theory was further expounded on by Jeremy Bentham Mills, its modern version is attributed to the work of John Stuart Mill. In his contribution on the basic principles of utility, Bentham identified pain and pleasure as playing a very fundamental role in human life. According to him, actions can only be approved or disapproved based on the amount of the resulting pain or pleasure. He went further to introduce the ways in which the two variables (pleasure and pain) can be measured (Cavalier, 2011).

John Stuart Mill’s on his part concentrated on adjusting Bentham’s philosophy. He identified the need emphasize on the quality of happiness as basic to utilitarianism instead of the quantity of pleasure. He faulted the possibility of measuring qualities such as pleasures initially advanced by Bentham. Cavalier (2011) identified the central principle of the theory according to Stuart as the need to achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. According to Mill utilitarianism, an action should be judged as right or wrong on the basis of the extent to which it promotes the consequences which maximizes happiness (Cavalier, 2011).

Strengths of the Theory

According to Andre & Velasquez (2010), utilitarianism is a simple theory whose results are easy to apply. It makes it easy to know the degree to which an action is right or wrong. The explanations also make it possible for one to be able to choose what has the greatest utility.

Critics of the Theory

Andre and Velasquez (2010) have noted that it is not always easy for one to know exactly the expected outcome of any action or the people who it will affect. They also noted that because it is not possible to quantify pleasures, it may be impossible for one to carryout the cost/benefit analysis as proposed by Mill. Their third argument is that even if such calculations would be possible, the process would equally be complicated and time consuming for the majority of individuals (Andre & Velasquez, 2010).

They also argued that the theory has locked out justice because it seeks to determine what is good in terms of numbers. This means that the good may not be in the interest of the minority and in some cases may even be harmful to them. Finally, they criticize the theory based on its failure to specify the rights of individuals that can not be compromised for the greatest good. This means that even a case where an innocent person is murdered can be judged right provided it served the interest of the majority (Andre & Velasquez, 2010).

Types of Utilitarian

It is such critics which led to the proposal of the need to modify the theory from its original form of act-utilitarian. In this form, each individual action is evaluated directly in terms of the utility principle. Instead, rule-utilitarian has been proposed. Here, any behavior is evaluated by rules that are perceived to be promoting the greatest good for the greatest number. The rule-utilitarian was meant to address the specific cases in which the violation of the rule would lead to the achievement of the greatest good for the greatest number (Andre & Velasquez, 2010).

Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports

Generally, performance enhancing drug is any drag which is not part of pharmacologic doses and is taken with the aim of improving one’s performance in sports. According to the International Olympic Committee, performance enhancing drugs are substances that create an unfair competitive advantage. A drug can only be categorized thus if it benefits sports performance by increasing the individual’s strength, power, speed or endurance. Equally, drugs taken to alter body weight or body composition in order to make one more fit for sport can also be considered as performance enhancing.  It also includes the drugs that are taken to trigger behavioral and arousal changes as well as one’s perception of pain (Coakley & Donnelly, 2004).

Utilization of the Theory in the Analysis of Behavior

Any attempt of the application of this theory must take into account the intent of its originators. Being a legal reformer, Bentham was basically seeking to find the possibility of having a publicly acceptable norm to help in determining the kinds of laws which could serve to the best interest of the people of England. His aim ultimate goal was to have rules which seek to accomplish the greatest good for the greatest number (Andre & Velasquez, 2010).

However, analyzing the acts of the athletes to use drugs is majorly possible if the expectations the society place on the athletes is understood. Andre and Velasquez (2010) noted that the use of drugs by the athletes should be analyzed in terms of the high level sports in our society. They identified the societal value of success as the most contributing factor. That the majority of people in our today’s society considers winning and not the game as the ultimate goal for sports. This is the attitude that has been internalized by the upcoming athletes who now believe that the good of the majority is to win. This position is further instilled by the way in which the society has often attributed winning with celebrity making the winners to readily enjoy high status, and uncommon favor.

This is in line with the view of most today’s utilitarian theorists who defines morals in terms of personal preferences and economic benefit. To an extent, such an argument justifies the attempt by the athletes to use all the available means in their attempt to secure a win. The athletes’ main aim in this case is to obtain all the rewards that the society attributes with winning. This in most cases has contributed to most athletes failing to rationalize the actions concerning the use or drugs. Some of the athletes have even taken the use of PEDs as an acceptable alternative to hard work. Most athletes tend to weigh the need for success in sports with the resulting medical and legal complications from the use of PEDs. Andre and Velasquez (2010) concluded that it is the value that the society place on winning and the urge for success in the individual athletes which contributes to the increasing use of the drugs.

History of Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Sports

According to the Australian Psychological Society, (2008), the use of PED is a phenomenon which started since original Olympic Games which took place from 776 to 393BC. Dr. Jason noted that the major increase in the innovation and use of PEDs was experienced during both the WW II and the ensuing Cold War. During the earlier times, the use of PEDs was mostly rampant among the East German Olympic teams. According to the report by the society, the need to control the use of PEDs among the athletes only surfaced after 1960s when several athletes were believed to have died from their use. This led to the formulation of various anti-doping which was further strengthened by the establishment of both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Code (Australia Psychology Society, 2008).

Examples of Performance Enhancing Drags

Anabolic Steroids

These are drugs that play the same role as those of testosterone hormones. This means that the drugs have an effect of raising the rate of the growth of muscles. Anabolic Steroids also have the potential of increasing the strength and the size of the muscles of its users. This gives them advantage over their fellow competitors. Health wise, the drug increases the amount of and further deepens the voice of women (Australian Academy of Science, 2004).

Human growth Hormone (HgH)

This hormone is also called somatotrophin hormone. It acts to promote physical development especially the growth of bone which is well evidenced in the adolescents who uses the drugs. The drug works by stimulating the production of collagen. The resulting effect is the strengthening of cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments of the users. Collagen also works by stimulating the liver to produce several other growth factors. The drug has been categorized under the PEDs because it increases the number of red blood cells in adults. It also boosts the function of the heart while at the same time stimulating the breakdown of fat. This increases the amount of energy being produced. The drag thus provides a very easy way of performance enhancement to the athletes (Australian Academy of Science, 2004).

Erythropoietin (EPO)

Erythropoietin is one of the recent PEDs drugs. It was first used in 1998. According to the Australian Academy of Science (2004), EPO is manufactured by the kidney in the body and acts to stimulate the red blood cell’s production. It also regulates the concentration of both the red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood. The hormone works to increase the aerobic capacity. However, high levels of EOP leads to the production of excess red blood cells which may cause blood clotting and even heart attacks. Its effects are lethal and have been responsible for the death of many athletes.

Some of the other PEDs include: amphetamines, Ritalin, caffeine, methamphetamine and certain dietary supplements.

The Ethical Issues

Apart from the health related issues, the use of drugs is unfair and encourages cheating in athletics because the competition is not done on a level ground. Additionally, the use of these drugs pushes others who initially had no intension of using the drugs to begin using them. The use of these drugs also has negative effects on the morality of the users and the athletics itself. It compromises the virtue of promotion of fair athletic competition for all. Because the use of these drugs is not regulated they may have a significant health impact on the athletes. The use of these substances also negates the moral principles of the need to balanced diet, need for good coaching, and a sound physical training. It is thus against the interest of the majority (Coakley & Donnelly, 2004).

The Existing Measures to Curb Drug Use

The main measures that have been put in place to prevent this vice are majorly the drug ban and drug testing. The drug ban for example has been widely implemented by various sport organizations across the world. Its implementation ranges from the International Olympic Committee to the high school sports associations. Thornton (2011) noted that the drug ban policy has majorly been reinforced  through the use of drug testing after which those found positive undergo various forms of punishments including but not limited to loss of playing privileges and the removal of awards from the teams whose players are victimized.

According to Thornton (2011), the two measures have totally failed to deter the increased used of drugs majorly because of their reduced effects on the upcoming athletes including the children and adolescents. Both the drug bans and the implementation of drug testing have failed to provide the up-coming athlete with applicable framework which can help them in solve the conflict that they face for having to obey the drive from the need to win and the obligation of doing the right thing.

Further Recommendations

First, there is need for increased utilization of health care professionals in counseling the athletes. Such professionals can convey information related to the proven benefits and medical consequences of the use of various kinds of drugs.

The second recommendation would be to device a various programs aimed specifically at educating the young athletes on why the use of substances is bad for them. Such programs should also have a component of various trainings especially on interpersonal skills. This will enable the athletes to resist any social forces that attract them into using the drugs.

In addition, there should also be training programs for the leaders of sport programs at various levels. The messages of anti-drug use should also be incorporated in various relevant policies and different educational tools used by coaches at all levels, the concerned parents, and all athletes. The community must also be cautioned on the dangers of the public philosophy of the need to “win-at-all-costs”.


In conclusion, it is evidenced that apart from failing to serve the good of the majority, the use of PEDs are also to a larger extent costly for the athletes in the long run. The vice must therefore be avoided at all costs.

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