Performance Enhasing Drugs in Sports
Submitted By stinaca31
“The challenge is not to find a top player who has used steroids. The challenge is to find a top player who hasn’t…” - Jose Canseco (2005) Performance-Enhancing drugs are widely used in sports in order to win and be the best, despite the fact that they are illegal and dangerous. It has always been a very “Black and White” issue. Many people, while they may not agree with it; they believe we should ignore it because these are “Sports Stars”. While others, want the athletes in question to be stripped of any titles they may have achieved while supposedly “juicing”. I believe that this is an issue of whom the controversy surrounds and why it is happening in sports. Athletes use Performance-Enhancing drugs despite the risk of side-effects. There have been serious documented risks of using Performance-Enhancing drugs. Some of these side effects are: death, high blood pressure, heart attacks, liver damage, stroke, headaches, increased risk of joint and tendon injuries, baldness, “roid rage”, hallucinations, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, reduced sperm count, impotence, increased breast size, and enlarged prostate are side-effects that occur in men. (American Academy of Pediatrics. 2002). Many companies have produced supplements that do not require a prescription or can be obtained legally that may produce similar results in muscle gain and strength, without the dangerous steroid side-effects. The companies that produce steroids state that they are safe for the user. Eighty-Two percent of all DEA-seized and analyzed steroids in the U.S. are manufactured in Mexico. (DEA Website. 2005) Many steroids that are used are originally developed for use in animals. Others are developed for those with Diabetes, Lupus, Allergies, and Asthma. Athletes will use steroids despite the fact of what the actual indications for use are. As long as these athletes are pleased with their results, they have no regard for what these drugs may actually be used for. Generally, the more you use a drug, the more your body gets used to it and therefore your results may lessen over time. In this case, it is possible for athletes to experiment with several drugs within their lifetime. There are different types of steroids produced today. Anabolic steroids are what is used to get the effects these athletes are looking for. Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of the naturally occurring testosterone in males. The more commonly used steroids today are: Deca-Durabolin, Durbolin, Equipoise, and Winstrol. (U.S. Department of Justice, DEA – Office of Diversion Control. 2004) Steroids are typically administered by injecting the drug into the body via the arms, legs, and buttocks. This way they can inject it directly into the muscle and can be absorbed quicker. Other “non-steroid” supplements are usually taken orally in a pill-form. Another method to gain an advantage that athletes have used is “blood doping”. This is done by injecting red-blood cells directly into the blood stream. Red blood cells carry oxygen through the bloodstream, so if they are increased, more oxygen will be produced resulting in less fatigue. This method as-well is illegal and there are ways to test for it. This brings me to my next point, which is that some people are born naturally with extra red blood cells. Many athletes have a certain genetic mutation which can give them a “natural” advantage over other athletes. In addition to having extra red blood cells, some athletes have been born with pituitary tumors which cause an increase in height, and being born with thinner lower legs based on your country of origin (LePage, M. 2006) It has been said that everyone should be entitled to use Performance-Enhancing drugs in order for everyone to compete on a “level playing field”, due to those with natural advantages over other athletes. However, if this was to occur, than those who chose not to use Performance-Enhancing drugs (for fear of the side-effects) would never have any chance at winning or achieving any goals. Since this will never happen as long as steroids are illegal, certain athletes are accusing other athletes of using Performance-Enhancing drugs because they feel those that are using are cheats. The main athletes that have been accused are those ones that have overcome insurmountable odds to beat records and obtain certain titles. These records had been previously set prior to steroids ever being thought of by athletes. Now it seems that so many athletes are beating these records and making it look so easy in the process. The athletes who are not using feel that this is unfair since they may never have a fair chance at winning. Athletes are caught using either by random drug tests or accusations. They are usually suspended, fined, or dropped from the team. This does not seem to detour others from using as they feel it will not happen to them. It also may not have an effect on those who are actually caught as they have a large income, and can always be picked up by another team. This seems as if they want the public to perceive that they are really tough on these athletes, but I ask why is there no jail time imposed on these athletes? If I was found guilty of using an illegal drug, I could probably go to jail. This does not make sense to me. What makes them exempt from the rest of the public? I think it basically has to do with who they are and what they represent. As I said before, athletes are sometimes caught by accusations by other athletes. It is perceived that those making the accusations are just jealous. Jose Canseco wrote a book admitting his own use while accusing certain well-known athletes of their own use. By doing this, he has basically alienated himself from the rest of the sports world. He wanted to show the public that this is a more prevalent issue than once previously thought. His accusations sparked an investigation by the Federal Grand Jury into those he has accused of using. The Federal Grand Jury held many hearings requesting several well-know athletes to appear as well as physicians who were suspected of prescribing steroids to these athletes. Through all of the hearings, none of the accused ever admitted guilt nor was anyone found guilty of use. I believe that this was all just a “show” for the media and public. It was done in order to give the perception that something was being done about this issue. I believe that if it was done to really indict the users, then someone would have been found guilty. They can find people guilty of murder, rape, and extortion, but not something as easy as steroid use. It doesn’t make sense. However, what does make sense is that there is no glory for second place. There is more recognition if you win, monetarily and socially. For the teams that win their championships, it’s a media-frenzy. You get special T-Shirts, Caps, and collectables with your teams’ name and title on it. If you lose, what do you get? A serious “tongue-lashing” from your team coach and owner. Who really wants to get yelled at after they just tried their hardest in order to win? No one is ever looked at for how hard they played, but if they won or not. The media is the cause of this. It is each athlete on the teams’ responsibility to do what they can in order to win. The team owner and coach instill this in their players, so should these people be partially responsible for their players’ usage? I believe that they do have a hand in whether a player uses or not. Plus, these players are enticed by bonuses if they reach certain stats, championship games, or break records. The teams only give their players reasons to use, instead of reasons to be proud of natural talent that may have gotten them there in the first place. After these players have retired, who is the future of sports? Our children who are seeing usage in the media and while participating in organized sports for their middle school, high school and college. Children and young adults see that winning is recognized and losing is just disgraceful. They are just following in the steps of professional athletes in the fact that they are doing anything to win. Usage by high school and college players is more prevalent than it used to be 10 years ago. The bar is constantly being set higher as Performance-Enhancing drugs are being more widely used. “The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Healthy Competition Foundation conducted a telephone survey about performance-enhancing drugs in July 2001 among a nationally representative sample of adults, ages 21-64, and youths, ages 10 to 17. A total of 1,787 interviews were completed – 1,002 adults and 785 youths. Here are the key findings:
* Based on projections from the survey, approximately one million young people between ages 12 and 17 have taken performance-enhancing supplements and drugs.
* Seventy percent of 10- to 17-year-olds surveyed could not identify any negative side effects that might result from using these substances, even though 96% believed that those who used them faced the potential for some health damage.
* Forty-seven percent of 10- to 17-year-olds had heard of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs or supplements to improve their performance.
* One in five American youths (ages 12 to 17) surveyed knew someone who takes sports supplements to enhance athletic performance or appearance.
* Among all youths surveyed (ages 10 to 17) who knew someone using performance-enhancing substances, the most common substances identified was creatine (57%), followed by steroids (31%).
* Eighty percent of young people surveyed said they had not had a conversation with their parents about sports supplements.
* Forty-five percent of parents said they did not have enough information about performance-enhancing supplements and drugs to talk with their children.
* Sixteen percent of kids who said they knew someone who took sports supplements thought they were taking them to look better.” (Levy, S. 2002) Society and athletes alike have made this a constant problem and it may only get worse as time goes on. Athletes are becoming stronger and more unbeatable due to their use. It comes down to an issue of winning and that is why athletes use. It has been their main focus and what is constantly instilled in them. “But as long as legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi’s truism that “winning is the only thing” remains the bible of sports, we cannot expect the players to deviate from the official script.” (McCormick)
American Academy of Pediatrics (2002) Retrieved online March 4, 2007 URL: http://www.aap.org/pubed/ZZZT6QV5M7C.htm?&sub_cat=1
Canseco, Jose (2005) Juiced. New York: HarperCollins
Kois, D. (2004). What is blood doping? Slate Website. Retrieved March 4, 2007 URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2107096/
Le Page, M. (2006). Only drugs can stop the sports cheats. New Scientist, (191)2565, 18-19.
Levy, S. (2002). Pumping medicine: Coinciding with the Olympics, R.Ph.s should caution athletes about performance-enhancing drugs. Drug Topics, 146, 30.
McCormick, P. (2006). It’s how you play the game. U.S. Catholic, (71)11, 42-43.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (2005) Retrieved online March 4, 2007 URL: http://www.dea.gov/pubs/pressrel/pr121505.html
U.S. Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Administration – Office of Diversion Control (2004) Retrieved online March 4, 2007 URL: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubs/brochures/steroids/professionals/index.html