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I heard the hypothesis that PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) compensate for genetic disadvantages in athletes, thus the PEDs make the sport more "fair".

I do not really care about the philosophic aspect (the second part of the hypothesis). I am interested in the first part.

I talk about this hypothesis with a few people in the mid/top-level sport (I guess some of them actually used PEDs) and they somehow agree with this statement. However, no one sounds 100% confident.

Is the statement the PEDs compensate for genetic disadvantages in athletes correct? I understand that such issues are not black or white so the question is maybe more like to what level is this statement valid?

The problem could be also formulated in a following example:

Consider an athlete in some specific sport. This athlete is not genetically suitable for the given sport in a terms of weight, strength, speed and/or endurance (nor height or similar hardcoded parameters).

Can this athlete match the more genetically suitable athletes for the given sport via the usage of the suitable PEDs? Can this athlete beat them? Or the PEDs will not be enough to match them? Would the disadvantaged athlete benefit more from PEDs than the more "gifted" athletes? Is ability to benefit from PEDs more limited for athletes who already has good genetic dispositions?

Note that I am talking about PEDs usage protocol that is "viable" for a professional sport where it is illegal (also I know there is quite a difference in how the given sport/country/league interprets the "illegal" issue).

I am not much interested in opinions or cool stories. I am asking about some large sample research or long time observation summary that seems to be valid.

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From a basic perspective of function, the majority of (if not all) performance-enhancing drugs do not target innate deficiencies that are due to genetics, they merely affect some bodily system in a way that improves athletic performance (hence the obvious name) regardless of whether the need for such improvement is of genetic, environmental, developmental or other origin.

It is possible that the bodily system so affected has an innate deficiency which is partly or wholly based on genetic determination - for example, an athlete may have a nerve disorder that requires beta blockers as regular treatment, even though this would be doping when done by someone else to improve their fine motor control. There are processes to manage the case where someone is in both groups, but in these cases it is clear that the PED is designed to provide functionality up to the extent of what might be called "normal" performance, not to provide capability of going beyond this into athletic competition.

The PED is not compensating for genetic disadvantage, any more than eating a better diet is compensating for the "genetic disadvantage" of a less effective digestive system or that studying tactics every day is compensating for the "genetic disadvantage" of a less effective memory (or a brain structure or nervous system less suitable for high performance sport than some equivalent athlete). It may coincidentally have that effect, but in practice, doping is used to provide a competitive advantage relative to normal capability, not to bring such performance up to that point in the first place.

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This simply is the opposite. Think if everyone took PEDs...

Understand -

  1. Genetically some bodies are more apt to have a higher muscle density.
  2. Some bodies can carry more muscle.
  3. Some bodies have stronger ligaments and cartilage.

So everyone takes PEDs, everyone works out the same, and let's take skill out of the equation (for the sports that require skill). Then you will simply have the tallest, most genetically available people that are the best athletes.

Out of this "supreme" group, they will lift, run, whatever. Their body will hit a building limit based on activity. This limit has probably been hit by some current athletes who have taken PEDs. Then out of this "supreme" group their knees will start to blow out, their hip abductors will not be able to handle the torque, their elbows will blow...

And then you are left with the people whose bodies whether genetically or luck don't crumble with the extra muscle, speed, and tension. This is pure genetics and the exact opposite of a level playing field. If everyone does PEDs someone under 5'8" just never runs track or plays most sports.

There is no research for things like this. Your research is the baseball players that have had hip issues after PEDs, the football players that tear their knees up, and some golfers (who have mysterious hip injuries and go from best player in the world to dud). Your research is in the news everyday.

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