Ellis Cashmore argues it's time to legalize sports doping:
Were we to treat athletes as mature adults capable of making informed decisions based on scientific information, we could permit the use of performance enhancing substances, monitor the results and make the whole process transparent. ...
Twenty-four years after the Johnson scandal, performance-enhancing drugs are as abundant as ever and, as the Armstrong experience reminds us, the testers remain embarrassingly behind the curve. Despite the major advances since 1988, several athletes have evaded detection not just for the odd competition, but for entire careers. ...
No sensible observer of sport today denies the prevalence of drugs in practically every major sport, yet none would argue they can ever be eliminated completely. Money alone guarantees that much. The days of the gentleman-amateur have long gone: Athletes today are competing for high stakes, not just millions, but dozens of millions (Armstrong is worth about $70 million,according to Forbes).
A while back, I argued that:
The only rationales for caring I've ever been able to see are (1) paternalism to protect players from themselves and (2) drug use by some creates a market for lemons (see my TCS column Drug Testing and the Market for Lemons). I'm somewhat persuaded by the latter, but at the end of the day it's just not much of an issue for me. I wouldn't watch baseball or cycling whether the players were juiced or not, while I would watch football and basketball whether the players were juiced or not.
Cashmore doesn't discuss the latter, but he also rejects the former:
There are too many dangers. Of course there are -- as the situation is now. By inviting athletes to declare with impunity what they are using, we encourage and open discourse and promote research so we'd be in a position to advise on the relative values and risks of different substances. This openness isn't possible while we continue to force drug-taking underground. Opening up sport in the way I'm advocating would render it a safer, more secure environment.