As this article points out, all sports would benefit greatly if a distinction could ever be made between performance enhancement and quick healing. Such a discussion could eventually lead to other debates with far greater impact and importance to society.
Rule makers hate ethics because it’s grey, not black and white. While it is certainly easier to simply outright ban whole categories of drugs and technology, it’s not good for anyone in the sport. The injured athlete can’t play; his team is missing personnel; and the fans don’t get to see the best possible performance.
In this case, it isn’t that hard to redraw the line…in theory. The current definition of performance enhancement is anything that allows ‘someone to perform faster at a level higher than they might have under normal circumstances.’ To a hardliner, ‘normal circumstances’ includes injuries. All that needs to be done here is to classify injuries as ‘abnormal’ and to allow drugs and technologies that are used solely to returns an athlete to the same or similar condition he was before the injury. Obviously this rule is harder to enforce than an outright ban, but the benefits are too good to pass up without at least a serious discussion.
People are passionate about sports, and if they can have a serious discussion about this issue then maybe society can eventually have a serious discussion about more vexing and important issues like end-of-life. A staggering amount of money is spent on people in their last year of life, and not enough people ask whether it’s really the right thing to do. We have been doing it because 1) we have the technology, 2) someone else is paying for it, and 3) it’s just easier to assume that everyone wants to live as long as possible. But it’s time to ask the tough questions because money doesn’t grow on trees, and a year of pain hooked up to machines isn’t remotely the same as a year of regular life.