What would the Olympics be like if all the rules on doping were removed?

How much would records increase? Would the same people win if everyone was doping? And what would be the downsides for the athletes?

A race to the bottom and a significant increase in athlete deaths, probably at lower levels where the oversight over drugs, doses and symptoms of dangerous side effects was up to athletes without a personal doping doctor monitoring them.

A lot of short-lived but spectacular athletic careers.

I think if we’re going there, we should also institute Calvinball rules throughout. Now that I would definitely watch.

Obligatory SNL clip:

Dammit. I was just looking for that.

Those who survived their athletic career would face a shorten lifespan as well as permanent or semi permanent damage to their bodies outside of what playing the sport inflicted. The 'roid rage would also be a large societal burden causing increased violence especially as athletes started using steroids at lower levels like high school.

Look on the bright side; there would be a tremendous amount of effort put into developing performance enhancing drugs. It’s possible that some might be found with few or manageable negative consequences.

For one thing, people would dope the horses in the equestrian events, which wouldn’t be good for them.

I think of it in terms of professional cycling. Going back to the years when better performance through chemistry was an unspoken norm of the sport, cycling was still goddamn exciting. Everyone knew most pro cyclists were doping like mad and everyone still watched and cheered for the champions of the time. There was a lot of art & science in how these drugs were administered to greatest effect and Lance Armstrong and his enablers seemed to be the best at it. But he was still an excellent athlete (though a lousy human being), and the drugs would not have made him a 7 time* winner if he didn’t have the work ethic and natural talent for the sport.

So how would it be if the Olympics allowed doping…? I think largely it would be the same as in pro-cycling. And I don’t even think it’s fair to assume that it would be at the risk to the health of athletes under most circumstances. If it was made legal, the “doping” drugs would be improved to be safer for athletes in the long run because that is a large investment to make in a champion and risk losing him/her to heart failure.

The flip side, why put athletes through that? Competition is still exciting if nobody uses performance enhancing drugs. And it removes the expendable “gladiator” aspect from athletic competition.

A cynical answer would be that the records wouldn’t be much different, as the record-holders are already those who dope, and just manage (possibly via corruption of the enforcers) to get away with it.

(how true that actually is, I don’t know)

Even if safer PEDs were developed, it would still become a contest of whoever is wealthy enough, or has enough national-level financial backing, to afford a continuous stream of these new designer drugs.

If it was legal everyone would be doing it, even those at the lowest levels, without access to medical expertise and the best drugs. The limit of “we can only do this in ways that wont show up on a doping panel” will also go away. Maybe the top contenders will stay healthy and keep winning, but all the hungry young athletes waiting for their shot will take chances.

It’s possible that the PEDs would be widely available, perhaps even without a prescription. I expect Big Pharma to promote them to the general public.

The advantage would be removing the need for enforcement, and fairer competition because you wouldn’t have doped athletes competing against those who followed the rules.

Wouldn’t the Olympic committee then be required to ensure everybody is using the same type and quality and regimen of performance enhancing drugs? Else it becomes a pharmaceutical contest.

Maybe. It would probably be like the inventions that threaten to turn some sports into a technological contest:

Didn’t they already ban some types of swim suits that lowered the body’s friction in the water?

I wonder how much money could be saved if the anti-doping commissions did not have to exist?

Also, I am cynical enough to believe that the dopers are always a step ahead of the rules/tests.

What I think might be an interesting approach is to standardize the equipment. The German kayak team just had their kayak destroyed in an accident and apparently, there are only 2 kayaks worldwider with the same specifications. Would be more fun to say: “Pick one of the 12 kayaks you see here, they are all the same, just put your national flag on it.”

Yeah, I think so. Also there was some kind of advanced bike design that got banned as well, IIRC. These seem easier to enforce than doping bans though.