Performance Enhancing Drugs

Social Issue

Why can some baseball players hit the baseball so much farther than some others? Why are some football players more muscular and stronger than others? Why can some runners run faster than others? Mainly the answers to these questions are that they are better athletes then the rest. Sometimes however the answer can be that they are using anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs to better their performance.

In the 1988 Summer Olympics when Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold metal, Canadians all across the country were outraged. They were not outraged that he had lost a gold medal for their country, but that they lost one of their top athletes to steroids. Johnson was an excellent runner, however the pressure to win must have overcome his confidence about his natural ability. He started to tell himself that he needed these drugs to compete and to win, and his thought took over without even thinking of the consequences.

This happened in 1988, and since then the use of steroids has been more common in North America. Steroids are the most common performance-enhancing drugs used in all sports combined. The pressure upon these athletes is so great and overpowering that as soon as they start to feel the least bit of pain, they will take countless amounts of painkillers such as over the counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen, among others so they can continue to push themselves to extremes.

Anabolic steroids are a man made substance that helps muscles build up to be bigger. These drugs are available only by prescription and if taken without are illegal. For legal purposes the drug is taken for delayed puberty or impotence. They can also be used for AIDS and other diseases that result in muscle and tissue declinations. They are illegally used by people who want to have bigger, stronger muscles without having to workout at an extreme level everyday. Many athletes use anabolic steroids to increase their mass and strength so they can have an advantage over others. The use of steroids can result in serious health problems; some may not even be repairable by discontinued use of the substance.

Today, athletes and others abuse anabolic steroids to enhance performance and also to improve physical appearance. Anabolic steroids are taken orally or injected, typically in cycles of weeks or months. This is called cycling. Cycling involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again.

The major side effects from abusing anabolic steroids can include liver tumours and cancer, jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of skin, tissues, and body fluids), fluid retention, high blood pressure, increases in LDL (bad cholesterol), and decreases in HDL (good cholesterol). Other side effects include kidney tumours, severe acne, and trembling. In addition, there are some gender-specific side effects.

For men some of the side effects are: shrinking of the testicles and reproductive organs, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, and an increased risk for prostate cancer.

For women some of the side effects are: growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, deepened voice.

For adolescents some of the side effects are: their growth may be stunted or all together stop and they may have changes in their puberty. If they take steroids before their typical growth spurt their height may remain the same for the rest of their lives.

Steroids are becoming so common that at least one in every eight athletes use some form of them. When you think about athletes today that break records of amazing athletes twenty years ago it makes you wonder if they did it alone or with the help of steroids. It also makes you wonder what athletes years ago did, or used, to prepare themselves for sport. A record breaker in any sport should not be considered legitimate if they are using steroids to achieve their goals. A prime example is Babe Ruth. Babe did not have to use steroids or performance enhancing drugs to achieve his goals; instead he used the sheer determination that any real athlete has to work hard, improve, and claim his victory. Whether it is a grand slam, or a homerun, the