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Steroids Essay, Research Paper
The Performance-Enhancing Supplement Controversy
The use of performance-enhancing supplements among athletes should be banned
from all athletic sports and competition, in that it provides an unfair
advantage over other athletes trying to excel naturally. Performance-enhancing
drugs are a controversial topic in today?s society, which are currently under
Performance-enhancing drugs are substances, which are used to stimulate
certain areas of the body to make an athlete excel in a certain event. A
performance enhancing supplement is defined by Edward Dolan in his book Drugs
and Sports as ?any substance or method used to enhance athletic performance?.
The most common form of performance-enhancing supplements are called steroids.
According to Hank Nuwer in his book Steroids, steroids are anabolic drugs that
build growth hormones that include the androgens (male sex hormones) principally
testosterone and estrogen and progestogens (female sex hormones). Steroids were
first developed for medical purposes. Steroids are compounds that are necessary
for the well being of many living creatures, including human beings. These
include sex hormones, bile acids, and cholesterol (Nuwer 17). Steroids are used
in the medical field to treat many ailments, and this use is not the use, which
is currently under controversy. As steroids entered the mainstream after their
historic introduction in the 1930?s to help patients malnourished due to the
war and disease, they evolved into something understood by more than the
prime-time college or Olympic-bound athlete as John Papanke reports in Sports
Illustrated. The medical uses of steroids are to treat anemia, asthma, anorexia,
burns, intestinal disorders, and much more (Nuwer 15). These types of steroids
are called cortical steroids.
In addition to the medical use, another purpose of steroids and
performance-enhancing drugs are that they are used by athletes to gain an unfair
advantage over their competitors, or use them to keep up with the competition
since so many athletes are using these types of drugs. These desired effects
range from increasing muscle size and strength, to decreasing fatigue, providing
quick temporary weight gain, inhibiting growth, and even simple pain relief (Lupica
24). Performance-enhancing drugs are taken in a variety of different ways. The
two most common ways these drugs are taken, are orally in a pill form, or
injected into the body with a needle. The most common kind of
performance-enhancing drugs are Nelvar, Deca-Durabolin, Anavar, Stanzolol,
Dianabol and Anadrol-50 (Nuwer 19). These drugs are much more dangerous then
legal performance enhancing drugs because the athletes take more than the
recommended doses that would be prescribed by a doctor. Athletes feel that the
more pills or injections they take the stronger, faster, and the better they
will perform when competing, but this is not always true.
The effects of steroids on the human body are well recorded, they could
permanently damage the heart and liver, stunt growth and change sexual
characteristics (Green 81). Performance-enhancing drugs and steroids have been
proven to be harmful to ones health according to many studies. These studies
have shown that steroids have been a major factor in causing liver damage,
cardiomyopathy (the wearing out of the heart), jaundice, peliosis hepatis (blood
filled cysts that form in the liver), and adverse affects on both the
cardiovascular system and on the reproductive system (Meer 97) other side
affects which are shared by both sexes which include high blood pressure, water
retention, depression, cholesterol problems, septic shock, diarrhea, continuous
bad breath, heart disease, yellowing of the eyes or skin (due to liver
problems), insomnia, fetal damage for pregnant women, aggressive behavior, and
of course, death (Bamberger 61). Yet, women and men are still willing to risk
their health and their lives in order to win and stay competitive in the world
of sports. These products have also been linked to causing some forms of cancer.
Due to these hazards, many performance-enhancing drugs have been banned in
certain national and international sports, such as the NFL, NBA, ABA, WNBA, CFL,
AFL and the Olympics (61). Although these performance-enhancing supplements are
banned, this does not mean that athletes participating in these sports do not
take them, however. Professional athletic sports are a major area in which
performance-enhancing drugs are used. Although some people use them just to try
to make themselves look bigger and better, most people use them to help keep up
with the competition in athletic events. The use of performance-enhancing
supplements and drugs gives the user an unfair advantage over their competition
through achieving strength in a shorter amount of time. The main purpose of
performance-enhancing supplements is to get bigger and better faster.
Unfortunately, it is not just the major athletes in pro sports and in the
Olympics who use these drugs.
Performance-enhancing drugs are used in all levels of competition today,
whether it is in the Olympics, in pro sports, in colleges, or even in high
schools. In our society today we have seen an increase in the amount of high
school athletes using performance-enhancing supplements for the sole purpose of
achieving victory. ?Steroids use permeates at all levels of sports,
threatening the futures of hundreds of thousands of teenagers? (Blair 17). The
issue concerning teens and performance-enhancing drugs is a rapidly growing one.
According to Nuwer in his book Steroids, almost 66% of male high school seniors
have used anabolic steroids at least one point during their short lives so far
(65). Also, Nuwer says that …medical researchers believe that between one and
three million youths and adults have taken anabolic steroids in one form or
another specifically to enhance their looks or athletic performances (61).
Athletes hear about professional athletes using the drugs and they see the
difference it makes, but what they don’t know or don’t care about are the
long-term effects. The effects on teenagers are similar to the effects on
adults. If a teenager starts out using at a young age and constantly uses these
supplements, the long term side affects are more likely to be life threatening.
Over eight percent of high scholars use anabolic steroids (Goldwire). Medical
researchers believe that between one and three million youths and adults have
taken anabolic steroids in one form or another specifically to enhance their
physical appearance (Day 45). Another large part of the use of performance
enhancing drugs is in colleges. College athletes take a big risk in using these
types of drugs because they can jeopardize the scholarships that they have
worked so hard to earn. When other athletes use performance enhancing drugs they
can sometimes force a teammate to use. Most of the time, the athletes on the
team distribute the drugs so that it can improve the team. A study found that
seventy percent of users got their drugs from the black market as their drug
source (Wright 52). Athletes see other people taking these drugs who are
excelling in events, breaking records, and bulking up and they feel in order to
compete at the next level they must do the same. Also, many athletes are
misinformed about the dangers of performance-enhancing supplements, but on the
other hand many athletes are aware of the dangers and consequences of taking
these enhancers. In professional sports it is very likely to see performance
enhancing supplements while athletes are in the training stages before their
season begins. ?Performance-enhancing drugs in sports has been known for
generations, the users have generally constituted a small minority of athletes?
The Olympics have been long known for having athletes take steroids. For
years now, certain countries such as the former Country of East Germany and the
former U.S.S.R., as well as China, have had a number of athletes who have taken
performance-enhancing supplements leading up to and during Olympic competition.
Bob Costas reports in a recent Sports Illustrated:
They?re building into a power, but amidst suspicions?especially
concerning their track athletes, female swimmers, and in the weight lifting
arena alone, Chinese women eclipsed every world record in all nine-weight
classes, possibly using performance-enhancing drugs (18).
Currently there is an investigation involving coaches and athletes from
Germany who competed in the 1976 Olympics. As Don Kardong reports in Runners
World: A German investigator is searching for evidence for a criminal trial of
four coaches and two doctors accused of giving steroids and other
performance-enhancing drugs to unsuspecting athletes (72). For years athletes in
the Olympics have been using performance-enhancing supplements that have been
banned from competition, some have not been caught but others haven?t been so
lucky. Ben Johnson was an Olympic runner who represented Canada. In 1988 he was
disqualified from the Olympics after winning the gold medal in the 100-meter
dash because he tested positive for steroids. Ben Johnson was banned from the
Olympics and his great career and reputation was ruined. In an article by
Michael Janofsky for the New York Times stated that medical and legal experts as
well as drug traffickers estimated that at least half of the nine thousand
athletes who compete in the Olympics have used steroids (Nardo 17).
In the past three decades, steroids have been becoming a serious problem more
than ever in the athletic field. ?The use of drugs by athletes has become a
major problem: Not that drug abuse is anything new in sports, it has just picked
up new momentum? (Reilly 41). They’re used in controlling inflammation,
strengthening weakened hearts, preventing conception, and alleviating symptoms
of arthritis and asthma (Cowart 33). Unfortunately research has shown that
steroids have been abused in almost every kind of sport. Although steroids
contribute to a muscular body, usage should remain illegal because they
physically deteriorate and mentally destroy the body. ?Researchers have
noticed changes in brain wave activity in steroid users? (Nardo 24).
Many people are fascinated about steroids because of their ability to build
up the body. Whether taken by injection or the pill it increases strength and
endurance. ?Yes Steroids do lead to the increase of muscle mass, but they also
lead to serious problems in the long run? (Alvin 64). Steroids also help in
the healing process of muscular tissue by first injuring them, then the muscles
heal quicker adding more fiber increasing their bulk (Edelson 138). Steroids are
also very hard to trace because of their water base composition. They can pass
through the body within two days (140). All these benefits of steroids help
athletes become more competitive and increase their chance of becoming a winner.
Of course everybody wants better biceps and triceps but when using steroids to
achieve this goal there is a large price to pay.
Steroids should remain illegal because they physically deteriorate the whole
body system. In women steroids contribute to the growth of facial hair,
enlargements of the clitoris, shrinkage of the uterus, sterility, deepening of
the voice, decrease in breast size and irregularity of the menstrual cycle (Meer
61). In men steroids cause shrinkage of the testicles, decrease in sperm count,
sterility, impotence, prostate enlargement and growth of female breast. In both
men and women hair loss, liver ailments, acne, atherosierosis and cancer are
very common (61). The side effects and reactions from the usage of anabolic
steroids are endless.
Along with the physical problems there are also mental reactions associated
with the usage of steroids. This drug becomes very addictive and damaging to the
mind. It causes violent episodes, which an athlete can claim, a legal insanity
defense as Jonathan Harris reports in his book Drugged Athletes. Research has
also discovered that steroids cause psychotic side effects sometimes referred to
as "roid rage". Along with these are wild aggressive, combative
behavior, depression, listlessness and delusions during and after performance.
Steroids mentally destroy the brain and ability to reason (139). Overall the
usage of steroids is very damaging to the human body. Even though it physically
builds up the body for better performance the risks of usage are enormous.
Steroids physically deteriorate and mentally destroy the body. The usage of
steroids provides an unfair advantage to non-user athletes and therefore should
remain illegal for non-medical use. Drugs in sports can cost a player his or her
scholarship(s) and more seriously, their lives.
Drug testing is a way for sports officials to sort out the users and
severally punish them by throwing them off the team and sometimes expelling them
from school. Performance enhancing drugs have a major impact on sports and
athletes. The sports of today are experiencing more problems with performance
enhancing drugs mainly because of the popularity of them (141). There are
different effects for men and women but all of the problems are very serious.
Gaining that little bit of competitiveness can lead to greater increases in
performance (139). Steroids increase muscle mass and strength which helps
athletes recover quicker from injuries (Bamberger 62). Pat Butcher reports in
the Independent that the most common sports where you would find the anabolic
steroids are in bodybuilding, football, track & field, power events, and
weightlifting. Weight lifting has reported the highest use with
eight-teen-percent, football ten-percent, track and field follows with
four-percent, and baseball with two-percent (Gildea 57). Cycling has also become
a sport where performance drugs are found. Cyclists used the drugs not only in
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