Dignified Doping: Truly Unthinkable? An Existentialist Critique of ‘Talentocracy’ in Sports

  • Pieter BonteEmail author
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 52)


As the activity of sporting has become deeply ensnared in cultures of hyper-competition and industries of shallow spectacle, many are unable or unwilling to consider how in healed sports (sub) cultures, doping may be done in dignity. To investigate this, I suspend all circumstantial issues surrounding doping, to see whether doping, in ‘the best of all possible worlds’, would remain problematic. Analysing the required origins, processes and outcomes of a proper athletic accomplishment, I conclude that doping need not be debasing, mechanistic nor dehumanizing. The deep integration of artifice in one’s body may even signify a courageous acceptance of the human condition of being ‘foundationlessly free and ruthlessly responsible’. As such, doping would be deeply dignified. In this light, I critique the deep attachment to natural talent in the justifications of anti-doping as attempts to sustain the comfortable but deceptive self-image of man as a creature which should follow the cues of its nature – develop its talents – to find purpose and meaning in life. Ironically, where ‘talentocrats’ cultivate natural forms, transhumanists cultivate a natural formula: evolution, thus becoming strange bedfellows in trying to connect human existence to the comforts of a ‘naturally given purpose’. To be human, however, is to be denied such an existential cradle. Intriguingly, sport is claimed both as a deceitful dreamland of soothing purposefulness and as a testimony to our troubling but true purposelessness. A truly virtuous spirit of sport should insist it is the latter.


Natural Kind Human Enhancement Naturalistic Fallacy Virtuous Exploration Natural Talent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Bioethics Institute Ghent (BIG)Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

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