Performance Enhancing Drugs

Performance Enhancing Drugs

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Imagine someone close to you winning a gold medal in the Summer Olympic Games. Now, picture them getting the reward stripped out of their hands by the Olympic committee because that someone you know tested positive for steroids. The use of performance enhancing drugs, or doping, is more of a shortcut athletes take in their training regimen. In most sports, athletes need to build strength in a short period of time to perform at the highest level; however, these athletes do not think of the possible negative repercussions drugs have on their health. For athletes, pressure to perform at the highest level comes from many angles. In many cases, parents force their children to be the best they can be. Parents apply this pressure in hopes that their child will make the starting team, and they can brag about it to their friends and neighbors. High school football in the state of Texas is extremely popular, and many student athletes apply pressure on themselves to gain an advantage, by any means necessary. Coaches apply pressure to their athletes to spend more time in the weight room to gain speed, strength, and body mass. Therefore, some athletes turn to taking shortcuts to attain the physical attributes. Rather than applying this unwarranted pressure, maybe we should turn our attention to educating athletes. Of any age and any level of sport, we need to openly talk about the cons to this particular type of drug use. Performance enhancing drugs gives a competitive edge in sports, but the possible negative effects they have on your health, and the simple fact that doping is cheating should not be dismissed.
On almost every level of sports, pressure to excel causes some athletes to turn to performance enhancing drugs to help gain an advantage. Anabolic steroids are taken to build and strengthen muscle. Steroids are available to those in need only through a doctor's prescription. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states:
Steroids are prescribed to treat conditions that occur when the body produces abnormally low amounts of testosterone, such as delayed puberty and some types of impotence. They are also prescribed to treat body wasting in patients with AIDS and other diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass.
(NIDA, 2007)
These steroids can be taken orally through pills, injection shots, or rubbed on the body through creams. Athletes take anabolic steroids to build muscle and strength so they can perform at their highest level.

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They can work out more frequently, as the recovery from the strenuous workouts is reduced. In recent years, HGH (Human Growth Hormones) has become increasingly popular with athletes. HGH is a natural substance produced by the pituitary gland located in the center of the brain. These hormones have many physical and mental benefits. The use of HGH helps rebuild muscles, and some helps rejuvenate the body. Some scientists and doctors believe it combats against the aging process. This is popular for athletes not only in the gym, but for the older athletes playing professional sports and wanting to extend their careers. Before two years ago, most professional sports were not testing the athletes for human growth hormones. Presently, anti-doping agencies are working on advanced tests to detect for this drug use. There are individuals who believe performance enhancing drugs should be legalized under the supervision of sports doctors. They claim that anti-doping policies and the associated agencies are not only costly, but ineffective (Kayser, Mauron, & Miah, 2005). While the fight against performance enhancing drugs does come with cost, the policies given are and have been extremely effective. If we legalized doping only under a doctor's supervision, how could we possibly know which athlete is abusing drugs and which athlete is following the guidelines? At what age do you begin to prescribe anabolic steroids to your child? I strongly believe that the legalization of performance enhancing drugs is not only preposterous, but would lead to countless number of negative health issues in athletes of all ages.
Taking performance enhancing drugs to gain the edge in sports can lead to many negative side effects, including long term damage. Physical side effects can be developed by taking steroids over a period of time. Abusing steroids can lead to dangerous health problems like heart attacks, liver tumors, kidney failure, strokes, and serious psychiatric problems (Volkow, 2006). Men and women might experience a high rate of acne in the short term. For men, shrunken testicles and infertility could be long term side effects for anabolic steroid abuse. Mental and psychological effects can develop immediately by taking these performance enhancing drugs. There have also been a countless number of cases linking depression to long term use of steroids. Aggression is another side effect of abusing these drugs. Many cases of aggressive acts like fighting, assault, and armed robbery have been linked to the misuse of steroids.
From baseball to cycling, performance enhancing drugs has caused much controversy in professional sports, and more measures need to taken to clean up sports. Drug testing athletes needs to be integrated with sports. Random drug testing is not enough. Standard urine tests are not enough. Many of the newer and more popular performance enhancing drugs are not detected through urine tests and athletes have found ways to mask their drug use. Some athletic governing agencies, like Major League Baseball (MLB), have tightened up and implemented mandatory drug testing, which opened up a Pandora's Box. There has not been as much controversy surrounding MLB since the Pete Rose scandal of his gambling on his own team's games. With Barry Bonds getting closer and closer in surpassing Hank Aaron's home run record, how will the record books be written with his alleged drug use? There has been talk of an asterisk being next to his name in the record books because of his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball as a whole has been under much scrutiny because of their athletes being linked to the use of performance enhancing drugs. The U.S. government had to intervene in the attempt to get control of the doping. In other sports, doping has become an issue and source for debate. Just last year in cycling, American Floyd Landis was stripped of his Tour de France victory after testing positive for testosterone imbalance. He has protested to no avail. Since 1968, 33 Olympic medals have been taken away from athletes who tested positive for any performance enhancing drug. Governing sports agencies should utilize the latest technology and implement mandatory drug testing for all athletes to keep sports clean and legitimate.
Through education and counseling, we need to reach out to young athletes on the negative issues surrounding performance enhancing drugs. Steroids and other related performance drugs can be easily acquired by young athletes. When I was in high school years ago, some of my fellow teammates took anabolic steroids or had access to other performance enhancing drugs. Acquaintances taking trips to Mexico were easy ways for different types of anabolic steroids to find the way back into high school locker rooms. As a student athlete, I only studied a very limited amount on the negative effects of steroids in Health class. My coaches never brought it up nor did they educate athletes on steroids or the abuse of steroids. Educating and testing young athletes on performance enhancing drugs is a must. Coaches on all levels must discuss the negative effects to their athletes. Parents of young athletes must also continue to educate their children at home. These parents also need to tone down the intensity and the pressure they apply on their children to be the best in sports. Athletic directors in schools across the country must find the funding for random drug testing. Recent studies have shown a decline in steroid use in eighth graders, sophomores, and seniors in high school (Volkow, 2006). We must continue to find ways to get through to young athletes before they wander down Doping Boulevard. The negative effects absolutely outweigh the positive effects of performance enhancing drugs.
Doping is for dopes, plain and simple. Not only is the use of performance enhancing drugs illegal, these drugs have too many negative impacts on your health. We need to keep all drugs out of sports, and must continue to put up road blocks to keep them out. We need more education and counseling for young athletes. Is building muscle and strength in a short period of time worth the risk of a stroke? Is gaining that competitive advantage more important than possibly having a heart attack at an early age in life?
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