It’s not cheating if you get permission?

When is an athlete using enhanced drugs, not cheating? There’s been many doping claims and leaks in personal data of athletes not so long ago and it’s made me think about this. Now I don’t think it’s right to leak anyone’s personal data so I’m not going to talk about any of the real cases.

From what I can gather, there are lists of substances that a sport governing body will ban for any athletes to use. The reasons seems to be that if these substances enter an athletes body, they will gain an unfair advantage over their opponent. This is to live up to the spirit of the sport, enabling a fair competition between the competitors and us audiences will see a closer and more exciting match. Athletes who use substances on that banned list will be punished by the governing body and also branded a ‘cheat’ by the media and public. There are exceptions to this rule though. Athletes may use these substances if they absolutely require the medication which contains these substances. They will need to notify the governing body to attain consent for use of course. If they adhere to the processes they may be able to use such substances. This is where I find it interesting.

People who are given permission to use these substances still gain a “boost” in performance, no? Yet they are actually competing against athletes who do not use any performance enhancing drugs. Can this be considered fair. I don’t believe these people are marked against a higher standard than their peers who are not on any substances. For a sport that has a binary outcome, for example, did the ball pass this line? If yes, then you get a point. If not, then continue. How does the governing body ensure that this game is fair? The user, albeit given permission, still has the benefits of the drug in their system. So my point of confusion is how does the body knowing this change the fairness of the match? It isn’t like that there are categories for people who use substances and those who don’t. Would it make more sense to make this divide? Does it matter that the body is informed if ultimately everyone is just going to compete against others? Should a blanket ban be applied and we miss out on some great athletes? I don’t think there’s a good answer but is the current one making any more sense than if there wasn’t a banned list at all?