By Simon M. Outram and Bob Stewart
J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2014-102147
This paper proposes that the sponsorship of sport by nutritional supplements and sport drinks companies should be re-examined in the light of ethical concerns about the closeness of this relationship. A short overview is provided of the sponsorship of sport, arguing that ethical concerns about its appropriateness remain despite the imposition of severe restrictions on tobacco sponsorship. Further, the paper examines the main concerns about supplement use and sports drinks with respect to efficacy, health and the risks of doping. Particular consideration is given to the health implications of these concerns. It is suggested that they, of themselves, do not warrant the restriction of sponsorship by companies producing supplements and sports drinks. Nevertheless, it is argued that sports sponsorship does warrant further ethical examination—above and beyond that afforded to other sponsors of sport—as sport sponsorship is integral to the perceived need for such products. In conclusion, it is argued that sport may have found itself lending unwarranted credibility to products which would otherwise not necessarily be seen as beneficial for participation in sports and exercise or as inherently healthy products.
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