Rights, obligations and utility in sports medicine research

S. Olivier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sports Medicine is concerned with rehabilitation and performance in both elite and nonelite athletes. Continued research is crucial towards progress in these
areas, and subjects are increasingly being subjected to manipulative and invasive experimental methods. In examining current research practices, this paper
questions whether we ought to rank consequentialist principles over nonconsequentialist ones. The history of cases of abuse of human subjects is considered, and the argument is presented that official endorsement is not a
sufficient guarantee against exploitation. The concept of Informed Consent is examined in some detail, and guidelines are presented as to when obtaining consent is deemed necessary. Further, journal review results seem to indicate that in a large number of cases, consent is either not reported, or is not obtained. Finally, the paper discusses the use of “captive” subject populations, and here issues such as coercion and sanction are examined. Whilst cautioning against an over-cautious approach to research ethics, the paper holds that researchers should be aware of the potential for conflict between virtue and
self-interest. Finally, it is concluded that Sports Medicine researchers should be guided by deontologic rather than consequentialist ethical principles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-22
Number of pages4
JournalSouth African Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


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