Walking pharmacies

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Athletes start out with greater and worse physical endowments. One man's body may simply produce more testosterone than another man's body. What is, in principle, wrong with the second man artificially topping up his testosterone to match the first man's? What, for that matter, is wrong with the first man's artificially increasing his testosterone even further? If his unusual natural endowment is okay and presumably would be okay if it were even more unusual, then why wouldn't it be okay for him to use artificial means to achieve the same end?

The question - is it a competition between athletes or a competition between drug companies - has an analogous question - is it a competition between athletes or is it a competition between parents/grandparents/great grandparents, who supply the genetic code? When parents start consciously enhancing the genetics of their offspring, then this will be just as artificial as an athlete shooting up before a contest. But now compare this scenario to the present: how is the genetically manipulated offspring of parents any less worthy of participating in an athletic competition than the unmanipulated offspring?

Yes, I know that shooting up is unhealthy for the athletes, but that's a separate objection. I'm addressing the objection I see here.

I do have an idea what's going on, why the objection. It's not that athletes are hurting themselves with drugs. Sports injuries have always been the price of participation in sports. Sporting is dangerous and it can destroy lives. Always has been, for the simple reason that sports stretch people to their limit.

And it's not that people who shoot up are "cheating". It is cheating, after all, only because it's against the rules, and it's against the rules only because people are uncomfortable with it. So it's the discomfort that makes drug users into cheaters; it's not some pre-existing fact that it's cheating that makes people uncomfortable with it.

People object to it because people who shoot up are no longer human, or no longer merely human. The same would be true of genetically enhanced athletes. People who are perfectly happy to acknowledge the greatness of an athlete who has obviously superior inborn genetic endowments to their own, are less happy to acknowledge the greatness of an athlete whose superior "endowments" were purchased from a laboratory, because the mystical bond of common humanity is lost once the enhanced ability comes from a needle rather than from the parents' gametes.

And meanwhile, Americans cheer on other Americans because of the mystical bond of common Americanness.

It's the same reason in both cases. To be more specific, in both cases it's a question of origin. Where do the enhanced abilities originate? Where does the athlete hail from?

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