Drug abuse in sports is nothing new. The names and drugs have changed, but they all serve the same purpose; to enhance sport performance, advance one’s career, and secure the win.
Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greeks would use steroids to give them strength and a boost of energy during their Olympic games. Doping up on an opium juice, along with other herbs and a meaty diet, helped them win large amounts of cash and glory. It wasn’t illegal or cheating, but a necessary preparation and training aspect of the game. Over time, people would continue to test enhancers, stimulants, amphetamines, and hallucinogens to increase muscle strength, prevent fatigue, and surge energy. Steroid use was found among Roman gladiators, Nazi’s, athletes, and soldiers.
Although banned for the first time in 1928 by a track and field sports federation, it would still continue to be entwined with sports. During World War II, soldiers were given a drug enhancer that seemed to really work. This crossed from war to sports and would begin the huge surge of steroid use in sporting events. As select steroids, Dianabol or Methandrostenolone, were approved by the FDA in 1958, after exhibiting promising results in drug trails done in several other countries. It seemed harmless at the time, but when cyclist Tommy Simpson’s body shut down in 1967 from an excess amount of amphetamines the reality of steroids hit hard. Shortly following his death, laws against doping in sports began to follow. In order to keep competition equal and protect athletes from harm, the use of steroids for sports was banned. Once drug abuse in sports was banned, drug testing athletes shortly followed.
Some researchers then focused on producing steroids that could go undetected. Anabolic steroids, a testosterone derivative that helps build muscle and delay fatigue, hit the market and came in many different substances. This synthetic form of testosterone can be taken either by pill or injection.
Many athletes who choose to use steroids believe a growth in muscle will give them an increased edge in sports. During workouts they often feel more energized to complete more reps and push themselves to higher limits. The feeling of fatigue doesn’t hit immediately after finishing a workout; giving them a sense of euphoria and invincibility. Other athletes justify the use of steroids with the false belief that everybody is using them, and they must take them to keep up with the competition. Although steroids are proven to boost performance, ethically, the use of them is unfair in any sporting event; keeping the playing field equal maintains a fair game.
A fair game is ethically significant, but more important is the health of an athlete. After all, the spark of banning drug abuse in sports was after the death of a successful athlete who had appeared to be healthy. Many people begin taking steroids without accepting the serious harm that can accompany them. Steroids can destroy and take lives, especially in young adults; heart attacks, cancer, hepatitis, delusions, high blood pressure, and “Roid Rage” are only the more serious effects. The use of steroids might not make your heart stop ticking, but the minor effects are painful and degrading. Infertility, stunted growth, testicle shrinkage, severe acne, baldness, and breast development are common effects of steroid use in men. A deep voice, extra growth of body and facial hair, baldness, and acne are some of the effects found in women who use steroids.
There is no definitive way to know how your body will react, but synthetic hormones will have an impact on your health. Beyond physical effects, athletes exposed of steroid use face humiliation, may be kicked off the team, and forego an otherwise promising career. As research and science continues to grow and improve, detecting enhancers in blood and urine tests is becoming easier and easier. Despite rules and regulations, some athletes continue to illegally use steroids. For some, the increase in muscle build and endurance is worth the risk of experiencing these devastating effects. The feeling of euphoria is addicting and many battle steroid use and addiction. It is important to note that steroid use can be stopped and when doing so, some of the effects that accompany steroids may recede quickly; however, serious long term use may result in a decreased ability to respond to physical stress and exertion – this side effect alone can ultimately end an athlete’s career.
By Angela Lambert