Performance-Enhancing Drugs In Sports

There are several different types of performance-enhancing drugs used by athletes and others in today’s society. Two of the most common drugs used are steroids and androstenedione. These drugs, among others, when

used are referred to as “doping”. “In sports, doping refers to the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, particularly those that are forbidden by organizations that regulate competitions.” (Doping (sports), 2007)

Steroids have been around since the mid-1930’s. There are thirty (30) different types and they are primarily made of progesterone, androgen and estrogen. This drug is used for many different reasons. Some reasons people use steroids is to grow muscle, become stronger, endurance, recover quickly, and train more. (Staudohar, 2005)

The other common drug used is androstenedione, which is a type of steroid. (DiConsiglio, 1999) Another name for androstenedione is “andro.” Andro originates either from the conversion of 17-hydroxyprogesterone or from dehydroepiandrosterone#. These are then converted into either estrone or testerone. Just like steroids, andro is used to help a person grow more muscle and become stronger.

There are several side effects from the performance-enhancing drugs. Just from steroids alone, the side effects are increased protein synthesis, muscle and strength, appetite, bone remodeling and growth, production of red blood cells, blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of cardiovascular disease and acne. (Gassman, 2007) The side effect of androstenedione is gynecomastia#. These drugs are very dangerous and damaging to a person’s health, body and even mind.
Another drug used by athletes, but not often mentioned, is cocaine. This drug is thought to be used primarily by the stereo-typed persons who have “some combination of the following variables: money, fame, free time and feeling of invincibility.” Some of the side effects of this drug are hypothermia, anxiety, palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, chronic nasal drip, sinusitis, and sudden death by bleeding or seizures in the brain and rhythm disturbances of the heart. (Preboth, 2000)

Another drug used by athletes, which seems to be becoming popular and common, is HGH or human growth hormone. HGH is located in the center of the brain and is produced by the pituitary gland. It is the most abundant hormone. The human growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland. It helps the human body in a variety of health functions. The human growth hormone is said to help build muscle and stop aging. (G)
There are three (3) different ways to take human growth hormones. They can me taken by injections, oral sprays and releasers (herbal supplements). Although each method is costly, taking HGH Injections seems to be the most expensive. (G)

The injections are typically used two (2) to three (3) times a day. Each injection averages about $25.00 per shot. So when taking the injections, you’re looking at spending about fifty (50) to seventy-five (75) dollars a day. Using the injections isn’t natural because it uses “scientifically engineered” or synthetic HGH. Although this method is effective, it is very painful, requires a prescription, expensive, can have serious side effects and is time-consuming. (G)

The oral spray on the other hand isn’t effective at all. The “sprays are said to be ineffective because growth hormone is a large, unstable molecule that can’t pass through membranes in the mouth.” (G) You also can’t tell how much of the dose that you’re taking. The spray is also dangerous to fillers and binders and is distasteful. (G)

The releasers are very different from the injections and sprays. They don’t cost that much and they actually work. They also don’t require a prescription and don’t have any side effects. The releasers contain only natural herbal ingredients.

It seems as though that the human growth hormones are good for you and the only one that poses a threat are the injections. The sprays don’t work at all and they pose a little threat. It seems the releaser is the best one to use. But if the human growth hormones are good for you, then why do people think that they’re bad? Well, if you abuse them, then there could be serious side effects. It could even be fatal to your health and could make you loose a lot of money.

Twenty (20) years ago, drug testing was in the beginning stages. (Mannie, 2006) For example, in 1976, testing first began among athletes in the Montreal Olympics. (Murphy, 2007) Now it’s more complex and in constant change. (CBC, 2004) As the years go by, more tests have been developed to trace and stop drug usage. The NFL, and other organizations like the NHL and NBA (Mannie, 2006), took measures into their own hands by having random urine testing procedures. The old test, used by the NFL, only tested seven (7) players at random, per week during a season. The new one tests ten (10) players at random, per week during a season. Also, the players, if caught using drugs, will be suspended and could forfeit a prorated portion of their signing bonuses which is often the only guaranteed compensation. (AP, 2007) In 2005, the NHL started to tests players twice a year. (Murphy, 2007) The German Sport University in Colgne also found a way to test for low concentrations of drugs. They have developed a chemical technique to detect synacthen.# (Mika, 2007)

Although there are tests and new procedures have been developed and adopted, some sports players are still being question as to whether or not they’re using. In baseball, a center fielder for the Angels is alleged to have bought performance-enhancing drugs. If this is true, then Gary Mathews, Jr. could be suspended for fifty (50) games. Mathews name also appeared on a pharmacies prescriptions list in Albany, NY. The two (2) owners of the pharmacy made headlines of their own as they were arrested for illegal distribution on February 27, 2007. (DiGiovanna, 2007) With sports players using the drugs, it’s making some fans cynical because they’re asking themselves, “How much has been achieved naturally?” (CBC, 2004)

Over the past century, there have been several incidents/reported cases of drug use among athletes. Starting in 1904, an Olympic marathon winner, Thomas Hicks was using strychnine and brandy during the race. In 1960, a Danish cyclist, Knud Jensen, dies from a fractured skull after taking stimulates and crashing. In 1988, Ben Johnson, a Canadian sprinter, is banned for two years and stripped of his medal after testing positive for anabolic steroids. In 1992, a NFL defensive end dies. Lyle Alzado was 43. Although it’s not proven, taking muscle-enhancing drugs allegedly causes his cancer. (Murphy, 2007) Several more cases have made headlines as the years go by. Even with strict laws and rules, the use of performance-enhancing drugs still continues.

With the headlines featuring big-named-athletes for things other than the longest home run, another win or this athlete or team can’t be defeated, kids that are looking up to these athletes may be influenced to follow in their favorite players footsteps. This could be very dangerous because some kinds are just looking to “fit in”!

With the considerable amounts of risks and effects involved in using performance-enhancing drugs, the question has been brought up as to whether or not the drugs should be legalized. The legalization of the drugs would be for the sole purpose to gather information and “assess any increase in risk afforded by the use of drugs or technology, every performance-enhancing method needs to be studied.” (Kayser, 2005) Although it seems that the legalization of drugs is appealing, what would be the outcome of it all? Another question that needs to be asked is, “How addicting would the “testing methods” be?” Every little bit of a drug that is taken can be addicting and researchers want to risk a person(s) career, life and family? Would you be willing to risk it all for a drug research project?

Trying to keep sports clean is a never ending race between drug testers and users. (CBC, 2004) With new technology and advances, it seems the use of drugs progresses and is never going to completely come to an end. Even with several cases of users dieing or having serious effects, it will still be a trend to use. After knowing all the effects, what the drugs are made of and some known incidents, would you take performance-enhancing drugs?

References

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