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Drugs and Athletes - Steroids and Sports

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Steroids and Sports: What, Me Worry?


Ever since their introduction into sports in the later 1950's the use of anabolic steroids has been a controversial issue.  Much debate has arisen dealing with whether steroids should be allowed for performance enhancement.  If you're not familiar with them, The 1994 Merrian-Webster Dictionary   defines an anabolic steroid as,  "any of a group of synthetic hormones sometimes taken by athletes in training to increase temporarily the size of their muscles."

            However, it's not just the athletes preparing for rigorous competition that have been using these drugs.  Business Weekly told of a study performed by the University of Illinois School of Public Health in which the results were shocking.  According to Paul Goldstein, the chief investigator,  individuals from all walks of life have admitted to the use of steroids.  He states,"We're finding firemen, students, lawyers, teachers- people from all economic classes--most of them taking the drugs for cosmetic reasons"  (177)  All of these individuals had admitted to use because of the positive effects the steroids provide for their appearance.  Along with these positive effects also come the negative ones.  Symptoms such as acne, psychotic states, paranoia, headaches, high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes, and liver and kidney damage with quite a lengthy list of other harmful side effects related to extensive use.  According to Dr. Robert Vow in his book Drugs, Sports, and Politics, along with trying to keep competitions fair and equal for all who entered, these were the main reason that anabolics have been banned from sports since the 1976 Olympic games.

            Since these early years, not much has been heard about the use of steroids. True, occasional incidents remind us they are still around .  For instance, when Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medial in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and Lyle Alzado's death in 1992.  For the most part though things seemed to have quieted down.  This is speculated to be from the growing efforts to educate athletes and individuals on the extreme dangers associated with these steroids.  Along with this education, one can not escape hearing the horror stories about what these drugs have already done to others and what it will do to them after prolonged use.  With such an impressively long list of harmful side effects associated with steroid use, one could be certain that individuals would shy away from them.   After all, the original purpose is to enhance their physical stature, not risk damaging it.

            We'd like to think that due to the strict regulation on today's athletes in competition, it would cause them to think twice before using steroids.  Another possible reason for the declining use is that they're nearly impossible to get since they were barred from non-medical distribution back in 1991.

            These are definitely good points and one could easily be persuaded that such is the case .  However, not everyone shares the same point of view.  The other school of thought is that steroid use and abuse is just as wide spread today as ever, if not even more rampant.  Athletes' feeling are that the gains far outweigh the risks even if they are just temporary enhancements.  There are only a dozen or so reported fatalities dealing with steroid use, therefore individuals consider their odds to be pretty good.  As far as regulation is concerned, as long as there have been steroids, there have been ways around the detection testing in an athlete's system.

            Another theory plays on the fact that it's not only the elite athletes using them. Teenagers and kids using them for appearance are becoming an increased percentage of users.  This can be traced to images of large Herculean type men portrayed in all forms of media today.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is a prime example sine he has admitted to the use of anabolic steroids.  Kids are inspired by him and several other athletes and movie stars who they admire and want to emulate.

            Getting these anabolics may not be hard as one thinks.  Just like any illegal substance, there are ways to obtain steroids for private use.  Many think that there are enough smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico, Canada, and several eastern European to keep the current black market a  thriving business.

            Are anabolic steroids still prevalent in the world of athletics or are people learning their lesson? Is it just the advanced athletics we have to worry about?  Will further education help?  Just who do we need to educate? A lot of questions have arisen on the current status of steroids.  These are all questions that need to be answered to learn about what is presently happening with anabloic steroid use.

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