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Sport medicine and the ethics of boxing.
  1. S Leclerc,
  2. C D Herrera
  1. Biomedical Ethics Unit, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    Abstract

    In the light of medical evidence of the health risks associated with boxing, a watchful agnostic position among sport physicians is no longer justifiable. The normal activity in a boxing match places the athletes at risk of head injury, some of which may be difficult to detect and impossible to repair. This suggests that sport physicians and others expert in the prevention and diagnosis of such injuries should take a public stand against boxing, as other medical associations have. Although there is a need for continuing research into the health risks, doctors can in the interim take steps to increase public awareness of these risks. Sport physicians in particular can make a strong public statement by also ending their professional involvement with boxing. This need not be interpreted as paternalism; doctors are qualified neither to make laws nor to restrict private behaviour. Sport physicians are, however, well equipped to advise those who do make laws and those who choose to engage in boxing. In the end, because this stance against boxing will probably reduce the number of brain injuries in certain athletes, autonomy will be preserved, rather than restricted.

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