Il moralismo manicheo sul doping sta tornando assai di moda: quello che sostiene che esista uno sport “pulito” e uno sport “sporco”, buoni e cattivi, “naturale” e non naturale. E che trasforma in discrimini morali le fragili distanze tra un farmaco consentito e uno no. E poi dice “vergogna!”. Come se il doping non fosse una questione di convenzioni stabilite artificialmente, come se lo sport fosse una cosa di bambini che giocano candidamente. Le regole sul doping invece sono regole, come quella sul fuorigioco: e se uno va in fuorigioco l’arbitro fischia ma non scatta la gogna pubblica. Nemmeno se fai fallo di mano.
E altre cose sull’ipocrisia dell’antidoping le dice bene l’Economist.
Replacing defective genes holds out great promise for people suffering from diseases such as muscular dystrophy and cancer. But administered to sprightly sportsmen, the treatment may allow them to heave greater weights, swim faster and jump farther (see article). And that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?
Two notions are advanced against doping in sport: safety and fairness. The first makes sense, the second less so—particularly when it comes to gene therapy. For instance, some people have innate genetic mutations which give them exactly the same sort of edge. Eero Mantyranta, a Finn, was a double Olympic champion in cross-country skiing. His body has a mutation that causes it to produce far more of a hormone called EPO than a normal person would. This hormone stimulates the production of red blood cells. A synthetic version of it is the (banned) drug of choice for endurance athletes.
Mr Mantyranta was allowed to compete because his advantage was held to be a “natural” gift. Yet the question of what is natural is no less vexed than that of what is fair. What is natural about electric muscle stimulation? Or nibbling on nutrients that have been cooked up by chemists? Or sprinting in special shoes made of springy carbon fibre? Statistically speaking, today’s athletes are unlikely to be any more naturally gifted than their forebears, but records continue to fall. Nature is clearly getting a boost from somewhere.