Re: Is taking steroids unethical?
I'm resistant to the idea that steroids should be considered unethical if they're against the rules. By the same token, it should be unethical to travel in basketball or to go offsides in football. While I think both officials and players should seek to avoid infractions of the rules, I don't know that I'd bother giving it an ethical status.
The question then arises, do I change that position in the case of deliberate cheating? If someone deliberately creates an unfair advantage for themselves, do they commit a breach of ethics? Is corking a baseball bat unethical? Is it unethical to move chess pieces when your opponent isn't looking?
For the most part, I'd say the fact that it's just a game prevents it from ever really reaching the sort of platform that causes us to assign an ethical status to something like theft. Sports, at least on the amateur level, usually take place in a kind of parenthesis, where the only thing that really stands to be ruined by cheating is the fun of the game. There's something to be said for teaching ethics by treating games as an analogy for real world ethics, but I don't know that we're justified in doing away with the analogy and saying that they're ethically equivalent.
But for me, that argument starts to break down the more our sports start to have consequences outside the parenthesis of the game. When people rig a boxing match to win a bet, for instance, we're talking about something clearly unethical. But I think the reason for that is not so much that they cheated, but that the cheat allowed them, in essence, to steal. When an amateur athelete cheats at the game and gets a scholarship out of it, we're no longer talking about the effect of cheating on the game but the effect of cheating on one's success in life -- the wrong perpetrated here is not against the players, but against potential students who may not get an education because someone else scuffed out the mark left by a tennis ball that should have been out of play.
So long as the consequences of steroid use has little to no effect on the outside world, I'd say it has a proportionate ethical value.