Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports

In contemporary context, doping is considered to be the most significant problem relating to cheating in sports. Doping may be defined as the ingestion of illicit substances or use of illicit therapies. Doping is a relatively recent phenomenon. Early cases of doping involved taking potentially dangerous cocktails, such as brandy mixed with cocaine, whose impact on performance may be considered questionable. However, the development of synthetic drugs, such as amphetamines in the 1930s and hormones (steroids) in the 1950s, created a clear link between consumption and improved athletic performance.  Later alternative methods for improving performance have been developed and included blood transfusions (blood doping) (Duchaine, 1999). From the critical point of view, taking steroids is the easy way toward the goal of quick gains in sports, but in reality, users are damaging the body’s natural hormone balance, which can have potential harmful consequences for the athletes, permanent ill effects, and contemporary prevalence of steroid incidents in the professional sport.

Even though companies have spent billion’s of dollars on the development of steroids they have not been able to completely stop the side effects associated with steroid use.  Many effects come along with the use of steroids. In a study, after eight weeks many different changes were found. There was an increase of approximately 4.5 kilograms in body weight and lean body mass. Mean body weight increased from 84 plus/minus 9.9 to 88.4. Lean body mass rose from 69.9 to 74.1 kilograms. The percent body fat went from 17% to 16% (Hartgens et al., 2001).

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Inside effects

In another study using a’dione and a’diol, which are considered steroids but not anabolic steroids, there was no change in lean body mass or in body strength. It is said that these steroids must be converted into testosterone to achieve anabolic effect. Even though they do not have physical effects on the outside, they do have effects. If used, there is a suppressed testosterone production, liver dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, testicular atrophy, male-pattern baldness, acne, and aggressive behavior (Christmas et al., 2002). Aggressive behavior is one of the main things that are observed by others. Many people can get hurt when they use any type of steroid.

Most of the steroids on the market are synthetic forms of hormones that preexist in the human body such as testosterone and estrogen. When synthetic forms of

these hormones are released into the system, natural production stops as the body relies on the synthetic hormone to carry out regular biologic function. However the synthetic

forms of these hormones do not have exactly duplicated compositions resulting in incomplete body function or over exaggerated body function.  Some such functions are increased acne or male pattern baldness.  Naturaly the male body produces three times as much testosterone as it does estrogen.  Well the average dosage of 3 cc. of synthetic testosterone yields a balance of seven to one “Test” to “Est.” The human body reacts by producing more estrogen resulting in increased female attributes such as gynomastia. “Gyno” as it is commonly referred to causes men to develop female like breasts.  To combat these side effects drug companies have developed a group of steroids to counteract increased estrogen levels called AE’s or anti-estrogens.  Other parts of the body that are effected are the liver and the kidneys.  Both the liver and the kidneys are used to excrete waste out of the body.  Synthetic materials cannot be broken down like carbon-based foods and nitrogen based vitamins and minerals causing the kidneys and liver to work over time to clean out the body.  The effect on the body is similar to that of an alcoholic.  The liver could break down and end up shutting down if steroids are used too much, a lot like alcohol.

Creatine example and it’s effects

Creatine monohydrate is the largest selling performance-enhancing drug on the American market.  By knowing the word’s origins, it comes to no surprise that creatine is most abundant in meat and fish (Metz et al., 2001). In the early 1970’s creatine’s benefits was discovered by athletes and Olympians form the USSR and Bulagria were accused of using the drug.  Creatine made its biggest debut when British Olympic runners Linford Christie and Colin Jackson used creatine as a supplement to increase their athletic performances (Bizzarini ; De Angelis, 2004).  This led the scientific world to connect their outstanding performance to the use of creatine. In present days, “Many celebrated professional athletes and Olympic champions acknowledge creatine use and estimated 80% of the athletes at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta used creatine” (Grande ; Graves, 2005, p.62). Although creatine is considered to be the performance-enhancing drug with the least amount of side effects, no drug is made without problems.

For the reason that creatine is such a popular performance supplement, many tests have been performed to show all of its possible side effects and ensure its safety among consumers. Luckily, these effects are considered minimal (Bizzarini ; De Angelis, 2004).  They include gas, bloating, and if the user does not drink enough water, the muscles have a tendency to cramp, strain, or pull more easily (Metz et al., 2001). The only problems that can be foreseen with creatine are if the user exceeds the recommended dosages recommended by the manufacturers.  It is said that, “This is where the possible dangers of creatine lie, as your body will have to work extra hard to excrete the unused creatine, putting unnecessary stress on your liver and kidneys” (Bizzarini ; De Angelis, 2004, p. 411).

Effect on the reproductive system

It’s a fact, using anabolic steroids to enhance your performance or the way you look is effective. The drawbacks to using these steroids predominately outweigh the benefits.  Because anabolic steroids are imitations of the male hormone testosterone, it comes to no surprise to why it mostly affects the reproductive system.  For example, most male side effects include shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, baldness, pain in urinating, development of breasts or enlarged prostate (Anabolic Steroids, A Brief History).  While males experience more of a feminizing affect, females will usually experience a more masculinizing affects such as growth of facial air, changes in the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, deepened voice, and breast reduction (Anabolic Steroids, A Brief History).  Side effects for both male and females include: acne, jaundice, trembling, bad breath, reduction of HDL (the “good” cholesterol), high aggression, high blood pressure, and aching joints (Anabolic Steroids, A Brief History).  Most of the side effects are irreversible. Although some of the different side effects listed above are considered to be just mildly bothersome, the most severe, and rare, side effect is when blood-filled cysts form on the liver.  This disease is called peliosis hepatis which is undetectable until the liver completely collapses (Dr.Walder, 2004).  If the cyst bursts suddenly, this will cause blood to flow into the lungs, killing its victim. Wadler stated that, “One report describes 36 benign and malignant liver tumors in patients who received anabolic steroids for more than 24 months to treat medical illnesses.” If steroid use is discontinued, the cysts will usually become smaller and may disappear completely (Dr.Walder, 2004, p.3).  Anabolic steroids are the most dangerous performance-enhancing drugs on the market and if not taken seriously, it drug can and will kill.

Athletes have gotten bigger and sports have become more exciting to watch

Over the past 30 years since steroids have entered the professional sports world athletes have gotten bigger and sports have become more exciting to watch.  For instance the average NFL football player is 29 LBS. bigger than they were in 1985.  (Verducci, 2002).  There have been more home runs in the past 15 years of professional baseball than in the previous 97 years. (Sports Illustrated, 2001).  In 1975 Mr. Olympia Frank Zane weighed 187 lbs. and had 12 % body fat.  Arnold Schwartzinegger won the Mr. Olympia and weighed 224 lbs.  Last year’s winner Ronnie Coleman won the last 5 Mr. Olympia’s and he weighs 281 lbs. with 5 % body fat.  Some of the greatest professional athletes in the history of their respective sports have admitted to using steroids.

In today’s society when an athlete breaks a world record, some viewers may justify him winning with the following response: “Well, he’s obviously on steroids.”  With the elimination of performance-enhancing drugs altogether, questioning an athletes performance would be laughable. Not only have these drugs demoralized the athletic community but, they have also tainted the phrase “pursuing victory with honor”.  Also, these chemically engineered methods to increase muscle mass have dangerous side effects that are harmful to the user and to the participants that play against.  These drugs have raised the bar so unrealistically that competition has become impalpable. When an athlete uses drugs to amplify his performance, he is cheating himself, his teammates, his competitors and the people who look up to him.