Should professional athletes who use steroids and other performance enhancing drugs be held civilly responsible for concussions?

The issue of concussions in professional sports has recently become prevalent. Most notably, in October a group of former NHL players filed a lawsuit against the NHL in the USA federal court:

Professional athletes as a whole have become faster and more powerful, and this has led to more injuries. A major reason for this increased athletic performance is the increased prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in professional sports. The biggest recent case was the Lance Armstrong saga, but the world of contact sports have had their fair share of issues.

Bryan Berrard was the first NHL player to test positive for steroids. This happened in 2006:

The NFL has had similar issues with concussion, and a settlement was approved by a federal judge earlier this year:

The NFL also has a much more sordid history of substance abuse violations:

The biggest issue I see with holding these players responsible for the injuries their drug use causes is going to be causation. It would be difficult to link the injuries from one player to specific substance abuse by another player. However there are specific incidences where a single body check or tackle will cause a injury.

Difficulties in formulating a legal approach should not result in the courts ignoring this issue as a whole. Is there really much of difference between using performance enhancing drugs in a contact sport and bringing a weapon onto the field. We wouldn’t flinch at holding someone who does the latter financially responsible. So why not hold other rule breakers responsible for the injuries they cause?


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