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Tainted Idols

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Tainted Idols
In today’s society the use of drugs to enhance one’s performance is becoming a common trend in professional sports. These drugs help athletes to compete at a higher level. Not only do these professional athletes break many records and win trophies, they are making more money than ones who choose not to use performance enhancing drugs. Since salaries have increased in professional sports, so has the use of these drugs. While performance enhancing drugs were apparent in the past, they have become increasingly evident in the modern era, tainting the integrity of professional sports.
The use of performance enhancing drugs has been around for many years. In World War II these drugs were given to German soldiers to increase their strength and aggressiveness (Edwards, 2006). However, these drugs became evident in the 1960 Olympic Games after a Dutch cyclist died. In 1963, a ban was placed on a list of prohibited drugs by the International Olympic Committee to prevent performance enhancing drugs from being used in sports. This list of prohibited drugs has grown substantially since (King, 2009). Even though there is growing evidence of serious health risk that come along with the use of performance enhancing drugs, they are still being produced and used at a rapid rate.
Others would argue that use of performance enhancing drugs dates back thousands of years. There are stories of athletes ingesting ground horse hooves and sheep testicles for ancient Olympic Games to gain an advantage. Wrestlers in the ancient Olympics ate large quantities of meat to build muscle (King, 2009). Some believe these stories to be creditable and argue performance enhancing drugs have always played a role in professional sports. They believe these drugs were not something that has developed over the last century. One would argue performance enhancing drugs have always been a part of sports and will continue to play a role in future sports. Whatever the reason may be for the use of performance enhancing drugs, they carry serious risks for the athletes.
The use of performance enhancing drugs has many serious health risks, making this issue one of the most serious for athletics. Athletes use a variety of performance enhancing drugs. The four most common forms of performance enhancing drugs are steroids, health supplements, human growth hormones, and stimulants (Christopher King, 2009). All these types of drugs come with major medical risk for the athletes. Using these performance enhancing drugs can cause damage to growth areas at the ends of bones. The drugs also increase cholesterol levels, risk of heart attack and stroke, risk of cancer, liver disease, gall stones, infertility, and continuous headaches (Edwards, 2006). There are many other side effects and long-term effects of performance enhancing drugs that could lead to an athlete’s death.
While there are a number of athletes that have died from the use of performance enhancing drugs the statistics are hard to track. Most side effects from these drugs are not apparent until later in life. Many of the drugs contribute to the development of cancer in some players. One player who has died from the use of the drugs is Lyle Alzado. Alzado passed away in 1992 from a rare form of brain cancer. Lyle Alzado contributed to his own death, the use of performance enhancing drugs played a large role in his development of cancer. His prolonged use of steroids and HGH lead to his death (Edwards, 2006). Players who are using performance enhancing drugs are looking to be competitive for the money, not for the love of the game or their health. Athletes, not only risk their own health with using the drugs, they risk being caught and facing consequences by the leagues.
While there are many serious medical risks associated with performance enhancing drugs, the athletes also risk being suspended or banished from their sport, having their records striped, and becoming part of an ever growing group of athletes who may never make it into the Hall of Fame because they chose to use performance enhancing drugs. There are many baseball players from that 90’s that facing these same problems. Mark McGwire is among the group of professional players who may never make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of his performance enhancing drug use. McGwire broke many records for homeruns throughout his career (King, 2009). As a child in the 90’s all the little boys thought he was just the greatest player in baseball. It honestly broke the hearts of many Americans to find out McGwire was using drugs to gain that advantage. Baseball fans have seen the problems of these drugs in past and present game and believe these drugs are diminishing the value of records and championships.

McGwire realizes that by taking performance enhancing drugs he has tainted his own career.
Another player who played baseball throughout the 90’s is also facing many challenges because of his use of performance enhancing drugs. Sammy Sosa sits 6th on the all time homerun list, but may also have a hard time getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While Sosa faces many of the same problems as McGwire, Sosa may have some legal trouble ahead for him. In 2005 Sosa testified under oath claiming he had never used performance enhancing drug that may cause legal trouble for him now that they know he has tested positive (Brown, 2009). It seems like every few months a bombshell is dropped with names of more professional athletes that have tested positive for these drugs. Huge players such as Ortiz have lost the support of fans by failing drug test in 2003.
The names of professional baseball players who have recently been released are part of a list of players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003. This list is causing many worries that the games value is diminishing. There were 104 players who reportedly tested positive on this list. Among those 104 players are David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Roger Clemens. This list will affect a great deal of people, not only the ones on the list, but their teammates. Just because players on their team decided to uses these drugs means their championships and records as a team are tainted. “Perhaps it means that if an asterisk sticks to one group of champions, it would also apply to all. And if every great team of an era has an asterisk, what is the point of the asterisk, anyway?”(Kepner, 2009, p.1) This era of baseball is already diminishing and it seems too late for the league to do anything to fix the problem. There are still many names on this list that are yet to be revealed. Mark Teixeira from the Yankees’ said, “Names just keep coming out. I agree with everyone else and say, ‘Get it all out.’ It’s ridiculous. Let everyone deal with the issue at the same time, because every two months things come out, and it’s not good for the game. It happened in 2003. Just get it all out” (Kepner,2009, p.2). Some might argue that the list of players was obtained illegally , but that still does not change the fact that this list proves the problem with performance enhancing drugs is a growing problem.
The Major League baseball Players Association is arguing in federal courts that this list of players was obtained illegally. They are claiming that the list was taken when investigators had warrants and subpoenas for the test results on 10 players. The league therefore believes this list cannot be deemed creditable because it was obtained illegally (Duke, 2009). The league conducted these drug tests in 2003 to determine whether or not the league should implemented random drug testing. If the results were higher than five percent they intended to enforce the drug testing. The players were assured these results would remain confidential and anonymous. The courts ruled the list was obtained illegally, even though investigators argued the names were among the other 10 names they had warrants for therefore making it evidence (Duke, 2009). Even though some believe this list has no creditability, it still shows that performance enhancing drugs is a serious problem in this era of sports.
The use of performance enhancing drugs in competitive sports is increasing quickly. Athletes may take performance enhancing drugs to “level the play field”. There are many professional athletes that earn millions of dollars a year for their abilities; some athletes may take these drugs with the fear of falling behind other athletes (King, 2009). With professional athletes salaries rapidly increasing so are the use of these drugs. Since players are being offered more money it is pressuring players to use the drugs to get the money. This is what is causing this era of sports to be tainted, the money. This type of competiveness is not only affecting professional sports, it is also becoming a problem in college and high school students. These professional players are idols for our children. With athletes using these drugs, it is teaching our children that the use drugs are normal and acceptable in sports. There is a need to protect these children who admire the athletes from risking their own health in copying what their idols are doing (Caplan, 2008). Some believe that the leagues are handling the problem of performance enhancing drugs, but time will tell.
The leagues argue that professional sports leagues are doing everything they can to crack down on the problem. The leagues are randomly testing to catch players who are using and those players face strict consequences. The leagues cannot afford to drug test all players due to the high cost. It has also become extremely hard to test for performance enhancing drugs. There are many different drugs and the cost is high for efficient enough tests to detect all the types of drugs. Players are aware of the consequences they face during their career and even after, with greater consequences enforced the use of performance enhancing drugs will no long be an issue in sports (Murray, 2008). People know the risk of sky diving, but they still go jump out of a plane. Just because the leagues are enforcing stricter policies on performance enhancing drugs does not mean their actions are enough to get a handle on the problem. Until further actions are taken by the league, players, and fans we will continue to find these records, championships, and once know idols tainting the games we all grew to love.
The use of performance enhancing drugs is going to get worse before it gets better. These drugs are being used to ensure players are getting the most money for their performance. Not only are they being used by professional athletes, the use of the drugs has also begun to effect high school and college athletes. The professional leagues could do more about the problem. If the leagues created mandated drug test for their players it would help cut down on the problem. Until the leagues take actions on the players the problem of performance enhancing drugs is not going anywhere. The drugs will continue to taint the games we all grew to love. Championships and records will have no value in this era of sports due to this rapidly increasing problem.

Brown, M. (2009). Sammy Sosa Reportedly Tested Positive for PEDs in 2003. The Biz of Baseball. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from Gale database.
Caplan, A. (2008). A Shot In The Rear. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from
Duke, A. (2009). Feds Seizure of Baseball Players’ Drug Test Ruled Illegal. Retrieved August
29, 2009, from Edwards, C. J. (2006). Performance Drugs. Retrieved October 10, 2009, from
Kepner, T. (2009). A Stain Keep’s Spreading. The New York Times, 158.54753. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from Gale database.
King, C. (2009). Performance-Enhancing Drugs. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from
Murray, T. (2008). Doping in Sport: Challenges for Medicine, Science and Ethics. Journal of Internal Medicine, 264, 95-98. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from EBSCOhost database.

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