There have been tremendous amounts of attention given to the issue of abuse of steroids and performance enhancing substances in the media in the recent years. Much of the focus has been on the Major League Baseball and more other professional sport organizations. Some athletes have died of steroid use either from the complications caused by the steroids on their bodies or the effects of discontinuing them without doctors’ intervention. Anabolic steroids are the synthetic drugs that are similar to the male hormone testosterone.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Steroids
They can be used for medicinal purposes such as for treatment of breast cancer, post-surgical muscle wasting and anemia. They improve muscle repair and encourage improved tolerance to fatigue, and thus, they may increase the ability to train hard. Until relatively recently, abuse of these steroids was mainly confined to body- builders and athletes but now a significant number of young people is using them for enhancing their appearance and strength. The drugs are responsible for the bigger part of drug abuse in sport, and are in the list of International Olympic Committee’s on banned substances (Gold, 7).
The desire every competitive advantage is an element of human nature that is totally understandable. Every year, elite athletes can earn tens of millions of dollars in prize money alone, accompanied by millions in endorsements and sponsorships. The lure of success is great while the penalties for cheating are small; six months to one year ban from the competition is a tiny penalty to pay considering the rest years of multi million dollars success. The enormous rewards for a winners, effectiveness of the drugs and low rate of drug testing all result to create a cheating game irresistible to athletes. . Some prominent athletes including the Olympic track star by the name Marion Jones and New York’s Jason have admitted their abuse of performance-enhancing substances (Gems 332).
The ability of delivering oxygen to the body muscles determines one’s ability to perform well in sporting; The red blood cells are responsible for carrying the red blood cells; the more the red blood cells in the blood, the more oxygen one can carry. This consequently controls the performance of an athlete in aerobic exercise. EPO, a natural hormone produced to respond to pregnancy, hemorrhage and anemia, stimulates the production of red blood cells, thereby raising the PCV-Packed Cell Volume; the percentage of blood comprised of red blood cells. Athletes started injecting the recombinant human EPO in 1970s and EPO was officially banned. In early 1990s, after the EPO doping gained popularity, several Dutch cyclists died while in their sleep due to cardiac arrest. The risks associated with raising an athlete’s PCV too high are serious and real (Rosen 76).
Diuretics are a class of substances used as a performance enhancing substance. They are commonly known as water pills or diet pills and are commonly used to help with weight loss. When consumed without the monitoring of a physician, they can cause irregular heart rhythms and dehydration. Most of these substances have been banned by various sports governing bodies and they do not show any long term benefits in most people who consume them without any medical reason.
According to Svare (35), as more prominent professional and Olympic athletes reveal their steroid usage, a trickledown effect is sent to young people and continues to worsen. Due to this, there is a change in the way the problem has been thought about. While it is evident that there exist a problem with professional athletics, many educators believe the problem is starting with children. Unless the likelihood of the athletes being caught using performance-enhancing drugs is raised to extraordinarily high levels or the payoff for winning reduced to unrealistically low levels, then athletes could still, all be predicted to cheat.