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Disabilities, Enhancements, and the Meanings of Sports

56 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2004  

Henry T. Greely

Stanford Law School


What, if anything, do organized sports owe individuals who are seeking to be the best [they] can possibly be? This article explores that question in two dimensions. First, it examines the consequences for organized sports of statutory rights given to persons with disabilities. It then looks at the legal and policy issues raised by individuals' attempts to enhance their athletic success in various ways. It then urges that neither the questions posed by disability nor those posed by enhancement can be answered without addressing deeper questions about the various meanings we put on fair competition in sports. As to disability, it concludes that the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to sports in the Casey Martin case was generally appropriate, although the Supreme Court's decision does leave open some hard questions. As to enhancement, it questions whether a strong case can be made for singling out for negative treatment performance-enhancing drugs from among all the ways in which top athletes enhance themselves. It suggests we may want to think harder about other ways to deal with such pharmacological enhancements.

Suggested Citation

Greely, Henry T., Disabilities, Enhancements, and the Meanings of Sports. Stanford Law & Policy Review, Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2004. Available at SSRN:

Henry (Hank) T. Greely (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
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650-725-0253 (Fax)

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