A Moral Question


I’m going to ask a question today and it is a question I am not going to answer myself but I pose it as a talking point as the whip debate continues to dominate the British racing world.

An oft used argument in the whip debate, especially from those approaching the issue from a punting stance, is “so-and-so would not have won the race had it not been hit that one extra time”.

Or “such-and-such is a lazy horse and he needs encouragement from the whip to be competitive.”

Although subjective, both arguments probably have some voracity behind them and there seems to be a general acceptance amongst supporters of the whip that it is a useful tool and it can help improve a horses position within a race.

Indeed many of those who are opposed to the whip would also concede the whip can be a performance enhancer.

If supporters of the whips use do not agree it aids a horses performance, then they must be asked, why carry a whip at all, unless it is carried exclusively for safety purposes, as in the Hands And Heels series of apprentice races.

On that basis we accept the premise that the whip improves a horses performance and, de facto, the whips  supporters are happy for an outside agent, in this case a whip, to be used as a performance enhancer.

So let’s now take another scenario.

This time a trainer gives a horse a drug which improves a horses performance,   a drug which gives a short term boost but has no long lasting, detrimental effect on the horse.

Is this acceptable?

If it is then why should the whip be allowed and performance enhancing drugs not?

If the use of drugs is not acceptable what is the moral difference between one type of third party intervention, a whip, and another type of third party intervention, a performance enhancing drug?

What is the difference between using a whip to aid a horse to win than using drugs to aid a horse in winning? Is there a difference?

The simple answer that administration of drugs is against the rules and using a whip is not, is not a valid answer to the question.

The question is what is the difference morally between allowing the whip as performance enhancer and drugs as a performance enhancer?

Answers on a postcard please, or using this link.


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