Performance-enhancing drugs, sports, and the ADA

by Walter Olson on December 11, 2009

A federal magistrate has turned a preliminary thumbs down on the argument advanced by a pro golfer against his suspension from the PGA for using synthetic testosterone to treat a low testosterone count. The use of such hormones is often associated with increased muscle mass and athletic performance. [CNN via Jon Hyman]

{ 6 comments }

1 SmartDude 12.11.09 at 5:07 pm

The litigant is being unfairly discriminated against.

He was asexual, weak, and chronically fatigued with a testosterone of 78 nanograms per deciliter of blood, far below normal levels of between 300 and 500.

His prescribed testosterone treatments are no more “performance enhacing” than insulin for a diabetic.

He will 100% win his case.

2 Dirk D 12.12.09 at 9:17 am

“His prescribed testosterone treatments are no more “performance enhacing” than insulin for a diabetic.”

Testosterone treatments for hypogonadal men are definitely performance enhancing (increased lbm, strength, decreased body fat etc). The question is should he be allowed to put himself back in the normal range? I think most people would agree that he should.

3 A.W. 12.15.09 at 9:02 am

Well, i said way back in the casey martin case that the ADA could lose on the subject of golf and not be hurt over all.

That being said, assuming that the golfer proves this is therepeutic and not performance enhancing, i think he will only have one obsticle. he has to show that the can get treatment for low testosterone, without getting a performance enhancing dose. for instance is there a way that they can determine whether he is recieving just a “replacement” dose. if they can, and that isn’t too difficult or expensive, then its hard after the casey martin case to say that there is anything wrong with it.

that being said, more than a few colleages said that in light of the tiger woods debacle, its not clear if lowered sex drive is a bad thing from the PGA’s point of view.

4 Dirk D 12.15.09 at 10:13 am

A.W.

It’s trivial to show that he is getting back into the normal range. The problem is that if he is using a testosterone base (which is the drug of choice for HRT) he’ll easily be able to dose himself higher on days he is not being tested. Fast acting testosterone base products (like the gel) only stick around in the system at supra-physiological levels for a day. Currently we test for synthetic testosterone directly using radio isotope testing and indirectly through testosterone to episterone ratio (that’s what nailed floyd landis). Once the PGA allows him to use for therapy they’ll have no effective way to determine if he is doping other than hoping to catch him on a day he dosed high by using random testing and even that is of fairly limited utility.

5 A.W. 12.15.09 at 10:34 am

Dirk D.

That may be the case. i think if it allows for performance enhancement instead of merely treatment, then it wouldn’t be a reasonable accommodation, even under the casey decision. i will tell you that i don’t know the science here, but it seems like your presumption is that he would only be sporatically tested. what if he agreed to a constant testing regime, so basically they know what he is taking every single day? that would seem to address your objection. But then it might raise a new concern: cost.

6 Dirk D 12.15.09 at 11:21 am

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t object to him taking the testosterone. I find anti-doping rules arbitrary and silly. I’m just pointing out that once you let someone use these drugs even for therapeutic use, pandora is half way out of the box. The line between therapeutic and performance enhancing uses is incredibly thin. The biggest benefit to steroids and hgh, outside of the increased muscle mass, is that they promote tissue repair and shorten healing time. For this guy, testosterone treatments would both be therapeutic and performance enhancing. He wouldn’t per se get an edge over the competition as much as it would level the playing field. Once you start doing that, it gets really difficult to draw the line.

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