Increase In ‘Academic Doping’ Could Spark Routine Student Drug Tests


The increasing use of smart drugs or “nootropics,” to boost academic performance, could mean that exam students will face routine doping tests in future, suggests an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Despite raising many dilemmas about the legitimacy of chemically enhanced academic performance, these drugs will be near impossible to ban, says Vince Cakic of the Department of Psychology, University of Sydney.

He draws several parallels with doping in competitive sports, where it is suggested that “95%” of elite athletes have used performance enhancing drugs.

“It is apparent that the failures and inconsistencies inherent in anti doping policy in sport will be mirrored in academia unless a reasonable and realistic approach to the issue of nootropics is adopted,” he claims.

But what this should be is far from clear, especially given the ready availability of these types drugs for therapeutic use, says Mr Cakic, conjuring up the prospect of urine tests for exam students.

“As laughable as it may seem, it is possible that scenarios such as this could very well come to fruition in the future. However, given that the benefits of nootropics could also be derived from periods of study at any time leading up to examinations, this would also require drug testing during non-exam periods,” he writes…

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  • Emperor_Reagan

    As was pointed out in the article, you might as well ban private tuition in this case. You could even ban letting parents buy healthy food for their kids or letting parents read to their kids – that also creates inequality in education. The idea that a pill, of all the things that affect performance, makes things unfair is ridiculous. It's one of the few things that you actually DO get to choose for yourself. You don't pick your genetics, how wealthy or engaged your parents were, whether your teachers were good, or any number of other factors.

    How about we ban all drug testing instead, except in very narrow windows for which it might post a significant threat of harm to the general public? I basically think drug testing is only acceptable in circumstances like DUIs, for first responder career positions, or for a limited number of other careers like safety officer at a nuclear plant or airline pilots. And I think arguments extending drug testing are particularly absurd when people start talking about what's fair, whether drugs constitute cheating, the legitimacy of a performance, or the integrity of a sport.