4:51pm

Thu August 16, 2012
Sports

What's a fair advantage for professional atheletes?

The next chapter in the story of athletes and performance enhancing drugs in sports has been written, and it takes place in San Francisco. Wednesday, Giants left-fielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for the rest of the year, without pay, by Major League Baseball, for failing a drug test: he had high levels of testosterone.

Shortly after his suspension yesterday, Cabrera released a statement through the players’ union. He said, “My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used.” The rare admission is a major blow to the Giants’ playoff hopes: Cabrera emerged as a superstar this year, leading the National League in hits and runs. He was also named Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game. The revelation can also be seen as a setback--or maybe a success, for pro sports. Drug testing may have worked this time, but top athletes are clearly still doping.

At the Olympic Games, the winner in the women’s shotput had her gold medal revoked when a drug test came back positive. But another event that took place in London may say more about the future of performance enhancements. Oscar Pistorius from South Africa advanced to the semifinals in the men’s 400 meter race, as heard here on NBC. Unremarkable, except he was running on two prosthetic legs. He’s known as “the Blade Runner.” His is the heroic story of a man overcoming seemingly impossible odds – as well as a court battle with officials who wanted to keep him from competing. But it also ignited controversy regarding what could enhance an athlete’s performance, as reporters such CBS' Mark Phillips commented.

'Not just the blades are an issue. Some people say he’s also lighter without lower limbs, and potentially, faster,' said Phillips.

Performance enhancing drugs such as steroids or human growth hormone are currently illegal. The potential for prosthetics, at least in the Olympics, has only recently been allowed. But as athletes continue to compete for glory, or for multi-million dollar contracts, the limits of human performance will continue to be pushed - even beyond what seems possible.

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