Performance Enhancing Drugs
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Performance-Enhancing Drugs and Athletes
There has been a debate of epic proportion for the past few decades on whether professional athletes from around the world have the right to use performance-enhancing drugs. As for now these world athletes are not permitted to use most of the performance-enhancing drugs that are available by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The athletes are randomly tested by their professional leagues. Each American league has their own method of dealing with athletes who abuse banned substances. These methods of punishment can range from a fine to expulsion from the league.
The use of illegal drugs to enhance performance is called “doping.” “What doping involves is misusing medicinal products or techniques” (European Commission). Doping is not a new concept. It has been around as early as the Neolithic era with the use of poppy and opium. Doping did not really come into the scene OF THE SPORTS WORLD as an issue until the nineteenth century. Heroin and morphine were the first drugs to be used illegally. Heroin was used in horse-racing and morphine was used in boxing and other endurance sports. In the beginning of the twentieth century is when doping started to become a problem within American sport leagues with the use of strychnine, ephedrine, and steroids. It was not until the past few years when doping suddenly became more complicated with the transfusion of growth hormones. “All this has changed the whole course of doping. Drugs used to be taken just for a one-off effect which activated various standard bodily functions, but now they may bring about the biological reprogramming of the body” (European Commission). In the past decade and a half, technology of performance-enhancing drugs has grown and will continue to grow. WithOUT THE knowledge and the continued use, there is no means of knowing what these drugs will be able to do in the future.
Athletes have specific reasons to use certain drugs. Each drug does a precise job to boost an athletes performance: “An athlete may want to build mass and strength of muscles and/or bones, increase delivery of oxygen to exercising tissues, mask pain, stimulate his or her body (increase alertness, reduce fatigue, increase aggressiveness), relax, reduce weight, or hide their use of other drugs” (Freudenrich). These drugs may help the body but they are also very dangerous. For example, anabolic steroids are the most widely used performance-enhancing drugs. “[Anabolic steroids] build muscle and bone mass primarily by stimulating the muscle and bone cells to make new protein” (Freudenrich). Anabolic steroids also have serious consequences. “[They cause] jaundice and liver damage, mood swings, depression, aggression, baldness, infertility, and breast development” (Freudenrich). These high risks are due to the little research done on performance-enhancing drugs. Very small amounts of research have been done on these drugs because these drugs are banned.
Performance-enhancing drugs are a serious problem in athletics. They are widely used in almost all sports today. Every American athlete is randomly tested within their league. These drug tests are what help keep the sport as clean as possible. The testers use urine samples, blood samples, hair follicles, etc. to test these athletes. With all these different ways to test an athlete for performance-enhancing drugs, people have still found that these drug tests are ineffective. Gladwell of the Greenhaven Press says that “the basic problem with drug testing is that testers are always one step behind the athletes. It can take years for sports authorities to figure out what drugs athletes are using, and even longer to devise effective means of detecting them.” There is a wide variety of illegal drugs that are used and many of them cannot be detected properly. There are many “holes” in the testing and these athletes SEEM TO find MOST of them. “Research has been done on a variety of fronts to prevent and eliminate the use of banned substances. Unfortunately, even before many tests are implemented, athletes are aware of the means to beat the test” (Anonyms Drug Tester). With so much money involved in professional sports, “the elite athletes can hire top medical and scientific people to make sure nothing bad happens, and you cant catch them. The bottom line is that only careless and stupid people ever get caught in drug test” (Gladwell). With athletes persistently finding ways to “beat the test” many are nervous to see the tests giving up.
Many people believe that the increase in doping within sports is due to the media. “[Athletes] now have to cope with ever tighter constraints imposed by the media and with economic necessities which are more and more pressing every day. In these circumstances the decision to take drugs is often taken passively. Sportsmen and women are, in a sense, acting under pressure from an environment which practically makes doping essential” (European Commission). With the huge sums of money involved in being a professional athlete and the stress of being a star in a sport the use of unlawful drugs will continue. Kerridge, co-editor of Writing the Environment, published earlier this year, says that the “characteristics of this attitude is that sport involves a relentless pressure for a kind of growth, so the standards always have to be pushed higher and higher” (Barnard). The media will continue their unyielding coverage of sports and the athletes involved causing the competition to rise higher and higher.
With the dramatic increase in drug abuse the fans have found them as just another part of the game. “Fans have demonstrated a willingness to support drug-aided athletes like major league baseball player Mark McGwire He is the first athlete in history to break a record while publicly admitting his use of performance-enhancing drugs… It is time to recognize that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is here to stay and that elite athletes will go to extreme lengths to succeed” (Barnard). There are two very big myths surrounding society and their thoughts on these drug-aided athletes. “One of the myths is that fans wont pay to see drug-aided athletes perform, something that McGwires example seems directly to contradict. It is said that more people turn up to watch McGwire warm up than attend most matches” (Barnard). The second myth is that athletes that use these performance-enhancing drugs do not have to work as hard. These drugs actually allow the athlete to train harder and longer. The body can only take an athlete so far, but if he or she is on a performance-enhancing