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Drugs In Sport Essay, Research Paper

DRUGS IN SPORT prepared by Wade Clark, Year 12 Health and Physical Education 1. Introduction When the topic of drugs in sport is raised, images of muscle-bound athletes, pumped up with anabolic steroids, come to mind. Performance enhancing drugs have tarnished the image of many sports over the last few decades. Drugs in Sport is a broad term used to refer to the issues associated with the use of prohibited substances by athletes to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents. In recent times, this issue has received high levels of media and public attention particularly in relation to Olympic and World Championships. In Australia, the National Rugby League (NRL) competition has been rocked by a number of high profile players testing positive for performance enhancing substances. Australian athletes and sport officials have also been involved in incidents involving athletes and prescribed analgesics and illicit recreational drugs including cocaine and cannabis. These issues have created a lot of confusion with regard to the drugs in sport debate. This paper will aim to evaluate the issue of the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport, presenting arguments both for and against the use of these drugs. It will conclude with my personal view on this important issue. 2. Drugs in Sport Contributing Factors There are a number of factors that may contribute to an athlete misusing drugs to achieve higher levels of performance in their chosen sport. These factors can be related to the drug itself, the person or the environment. There has always been a powerful need in people to prove that they are stronger, faster, better, than those around them and this is a major factor that contributes to athletes taking performance enhancing drugs. Many athletes use performance enhancing drugs to speed up recovery and return from injury. These athletes are under pressure to return quickly from injury to avoid a loss of income. It is also possible that athletes would use drugs to assist recovery and enhance their performance as they are concerned about losing their spot in their particular team or squad. Sportsmen and sportswoman know that money comes with success and this is a major contributing factor that prompts athletes to use drugs. They are all well aware that to be wealthy from sport they need to be the best in their sport and therefore take drugs to achieve number one status. Another contributing factor influencing athletes is that they believe that their fellow competitors are taking drugs to assist performance thus an athlete feels that they also have to take them to keep up with their opposition. 3. Arguments For and Against the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs The dilemma over drugs in sport is summed up by Steve Haynes, the Chief Executive of the Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA). He says, There will always be grey areas because there is no clear rationale for why drugs should be banned (Sydney Morning Herald, 29 July 1992). What this means is there is no obvious, defensible and absolute position regarding the use of drugs in sport. There are compelling arguments for banning drugs and compelling arguments for regulating them. 3.1 Arguments Against the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs Athletes that choose to use drugs to gain an advantage in their particular sport are creating an unfair situation for other athletes. Not only are they making it unfair on other athletes, they are also ruining the public image of their particular sporting event. When Ben Johnson was found to have been using steroids in the Olympics and was disqualified after winning the prestigious 100m sprint event, the headlines used were CHEAT . It could be argued that a fairer system would be to allow all athletes access and controlled use of steroids but this would be against the great ethics of sport. Athletes who are taking performance enhancing drugs are causing a heavy impact on their particular sport. Athletes play a major part in being role models for young people and therefor are ruining the image of the game or event for the next generation. If athletes cared for their sport they should look after the reputation of it and stay away from the use of drugs. Performance enhancing drugs can also have a negative impact on the physical and psychological health of athletes, particularly with anabolic steroids. Male athletes using anabolic steroids place their health at great risk and are often found to develop breasts, bad acne, decrease the size of their testes and become violent and aggressive, usually towards family, friends, coaches and team-mates. Female athletes might start growing hair in places that they haven t had hair before, develop bad acne, stop menstruating, develop a much deeper voice and also like their male counterparts, become violent towards other people. These are just a few of the health consequences athletes face if they decide to take illegal performance enhancing drugs. Anabolic steroids can effect sportsmen and sportswoman in different ways. They can experience heart disease problems, damage to their kidney, liver and their reproductive system. These health problems are all the major effects that tend to occur in both male and female drug users. The main argument against the use of drugs in sport is that their use is very dangerous and is unfair on other sportsmen and sportswoman. 3.2 Arguments For the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs In discussing the controversy surrounding the use of performance enhancing drugs, the issue of athlete s civil rights should be addressed. As it can be seen in the appendix, the testing procedures that are carried out by officials go to great lengths to make everything true and fair. Athletes are expected to provide a urine sample right in front of officials. Although there is a need for a urine sample, the privacy of the athletes involved is totally invaded. If the drug committee was to allow athletes to use a particular drug of their choice, it could then be organised for doctor s to provide safe levels of safe substances. This would prevent unsafe use and allow drug taking to be controlled and monitored making the situation fairer and safer for all. Throughout the wide variety of sports played, there are other sports that use technology to increase performance. For example, surf ski paddlers, if affordable, have the opportunity to purchase a scoop paddle. These particular paddles have an extreme advantage over normal paddles and therefore are increasing performance. Another example of this unfairness being displayed in the sporting arena is the issue of different shape, size and comfort of shoes that can be obtained. This could also make it unfair on other athletes if they didn t have the same equipment. Therefore, it could be argued that sport isn t fair anyway, so why not allow athletes to use drugs to obtain a similar advantage?

4. Authors View In order to solve the complex problem of drug use in sport, we need a comprehensive drug policy developed by all those affected by the issue. Under such a policy, athletes would make a concerned effort not to use any drug in sport. These policies have to be straight forward and followed correctly by all athletes. Major penalties should occur to the athletes who are found to be breaching these policies. If the problem of drug abuse in sport is not addressed, more and more athletes will not only continue using any drugs but will become dependent on their use. For example, athletes might have to take drugs every day to reach their goals. According to Eichner, it is a sad commentary on human nature and society that so much effort is spent trying to detect and deter drug abuse among athletes. But, a big-money, winning-is-everything mentality grips much of our social life. Since sport mirrors society, the field of competition is a stage where athletes enact social values. And if winning is everything, some athletes may try anything to win. (Eichner, Sporting Folks, 1991). Over past years, Australia has avoided sporting drug use allegations. Incidents have mainly occurred in countries such as China, Russia, United States and some of the major Asian countries. It appears that the technology associated with beating drug testing is nearly two years ahead of technology required to detect drug use. In cases such as the major mishap at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), some coaches were caught providing drugs to their athletes and were subsequently dismissed from important positions. The case of one of Australia s most admired sportswoman, Samantha Riley, testing positive for a banned but not necessarily performance enhancing substance is an example of how drug testing can cause more problems for the athlete than the substance involved. Athletes should also think about their relatively short-time involved in elite sport, and ask themselves the question of will someone or a company hire them if they are known to be a drug cheat. From a personal point of view, I wouldn t want to employ someone who has a past experience with illegal drugs. (although it would be illegal to do so these days) Many athletes these days are turning to natural remedies that can be found in health shops around Australia. Although it has been said that these natural remedies have the potential to be performance enhancing, the reason that they are not is that they are natural . If these so called natural substances are performance enhancing, they too should be banned from sport as they provide an unfair advantage for athletes. Now it is becoming easier for athletes to find out about any substance thanks to the help of ASDA, who have set up a 24-hour phone hotline which can inform the athlete about the substance and whether it is legal or not. Random, annual and consistent testing in all sporting codes can support this service. 5. Conclusion This paper has evaluated the issues and concerns of athletes using performing enhancing drugs in sport. It has presented arguments both for and against the use of drugs for an athlete. It has concluded with the view that drug use to enhance performance is unfair, unsafe and not in the interest of the sport or youth who follow their role models. Information for athletes and coaches supported by random, annual and consistent testing in all sporting codes will be the best way to target this issue in the best interest of sport. 6. References – Eichner, Sporting Folks, 1991- Sports Coach, July/September 1991- Steve Haynes, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 July 1992- http://www.ausport.gov.au- ASDA handbook APPENDIX Drug Testing Procedures The Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA) was established in August 1989 and now is a statutory authority. The ASDA carries out 3000 tests a year at sporting events as well as out of season periods. Athletes to be tested are given 12 to 24 hours notice. The agency reports that the number of positive test has decreased from 3 percent to 1.5 percent in the period 1996-97. The testing covers athletes from a wide spectrum of sports. The following sampling procedure is the one used by the ASDA. 1. After an event or during training you will be notified by an ASDA official that you have been selected for a drug test.2. A chaperone will accompany you to the Drug Control Waiting Room where you will be provided with sealed drinks. You are entitled to have a representative present.3. When you are ready to provide a sample you will be asked to collect a sample collection container.4. The chaperone must directly observe you providing your urine sample.5. When you have provided the right amount of urine generally 80 millilitres, you return to the Drug Control Waiting Room. Nobody but you should handle the sample.6. You will be asked to select a pair of security transit containers.7. You check and open the security seals.8. Pour the sample in to A and B bottles, putting at least 60 milliletres in the A bottle.9. Reseal the kit with new security seals.10. The Drug Control Official checks the pH (acidity/alkalinity) and specific gravity of sample. These both indicate the suitability of the sample for testing.11. The Drug Control Official records the sample and seal numbers on the Drug Testing Form. You will be asked to provide contact information and declare any medications you have used in the previous week.12. The Drug Control Official will ask you and your representative to check all information on the Drug Testing Form, and if satisfied, sign the form. The Drug Official will also check and sign the form.13. The Drug Control Official will provide you with a copy of the drug testing form. The laboratory will be sent only the section detailing the sample, seals and medications to protect your privacy. You will then be free to go. The samples will be sent to the laboratory and the results will be sent to you generally within 2 weeks (Sports coach July/September, 1991)

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