Rhetorical Analysis: “The Real Scandal”

1543 words - 6 pages

In “The Real Scandal,” Sharon Begley and Martha Brant develop an argument against the tacit allowance of the use of “banned” performance-enhancing drugs among Olympic athletes. The 1999 Newsweek cover story details incidents involving individual athletes caught using banned substances, the continuous race between the discovery and detection of new performance-enhancing drugs, and examples of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC’s) complacency. In particular, the authors question the validity of the IOC’s current drug testing policies and protocols within the context of their self-defined role to “lead the fight against doping in sport” and “encourage and support measures protecting the health of athletes” (Organization). In order to better argue against doping in sport and advocate for more efficient and rigorous drug testing, Begley and Brant employ emotional appeals, logic, and a kairotic stance within their writing to persuade their audience of the necessity of firm action by the IOC and the worldwide community on the subject of performance-enhancing drug abuse.
One of the opening points of the article acknowledges the health and safety repercussions of taking performance-enhancing drugs. The authors include this information to inform readers of the severity of the drugs involved and the situation as a whole. For example, in 1997 cyclist Erwan Mentheour tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO), which, “increases the number of red cells in the blood and thus an athlete’s endurance” (Begley and Brant 1). This initially sounds fairly harmless until the authors later explain that the drug “can turn blood the consistency of yogurt” and that “EPO has apparently killed at least 18 Dutch and Belgian cyclists since 1987” (4). The metaphor comparing blood to yogurt causes the reader to imagine yogurt running through an athlete’s veins after taking the drug, a shocking image which prompts the reader to emotionally recoil from the situation. The included statistics about the deaths that have occurred as a result of cyclists taking the drug further instill in the reader an understanding of the drug’s dangerous and potentially fatal health effects. The authors describe another drug, human growth hormone (HGH), with similarly disturbing imagery. According to the article, HGH can “cause grotesque skeletal deformations by stimulating abnormal bone growth” (4). Again, the images invoked force the reader to acknowledge the serious, and sometimes permanent, health effects of performance-enhancing drugs. Once enlightened about the severity of the side-effects, readers may ask why athletes feel obligated to take performance-enhancing drugs.
The article cites the highly competitive environment in certain sports as the reason athletes feel compelled to take dangerous drugs to artificially enhance performance. Doctor Gabriele Rosa, an advisor for Kenyan runners, was quoted in the article as saying that “in some sports, such as cycling, it is not possible to...

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