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The Performance-Enhancing Supplement Controversy

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The use of performance-enhancing supplements among athletes should be banned from all athletic sports and competition, in that it provides an unfair advantage over other athletes trying to excel naturally. Performance-enhancing drugs are a controversial topic in todays society, which are currently under debate. Performance-enhancing drugs are substances, which are used to stimulate certain areas of the body to make an athlete excel in a certain event. A performance enhancing supplement is defined by Edward Dolan in his book Drugs and Sports as any substance or method used to enhance athletic performance.

The most common form of performance-enhancing supplements are called steroids. According to Hank Nuwer in his book Steroids, steroids are anabolic drugs that build growth hormones that include the androgens (male sex hormones) principally testosterone and estrogen and progestogens (female sex hormones). Steroids were first developed for medical purposes. Steroids are compounds that are necessary for the well being of many living creatures, including human beings. These include sex hormones, bile acids, and cholesterol (Nuwer 17).

Steroids are used in the medical field to treat many ailments, and this use is not the use, which is currently under controversy. As steroids entered the mainstream after their historic introduction in the 1930s to help patients malnourished due to the war and disease, they evolved into something understood by more than the prime-time college or Olympic-bound athlete as John Papanke reports in Sports Illustrated. The medical uses of steroids are to treat anemia, asthma, anorexia, burns, intestinal disorders, and much more (Nuwer 15).

These types of steroids are called cortical steroids. In addition to the medical use, another purpose of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs are that they are used by athletes to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors, or use them to keep up with the competition since so many athletes are using these types of drugs. These desired effects range from increasing muscle size and strength, to decreasing fatigue, providing quick temporary weight gain, inhibiting growth, and even simple pain relief (Lupica 24).

Performance-enhancing drugs are taken in a variety of different ways. The two most common ways these drugs are taken, are orally in a pill form, or injected into the body with a needle. The most common kind of performance-enhancing drugs are Nelvar, Deca-Durabolin, Anavar, Stanzolol, Dianabol and Anadrol-50 (Nuwer 19). These drugs are much more dangerous then legal performance enhancing drugs because the athletes take more than the recommended doses that would be prescribed by a doctor.

Athletes feel that the more pills or injections they take the stronger, faster, and the better they will perform when competing, but this is not always true. The effects of steroids on the human body are well recorded, they could permanently damage the heart and liver, stunt growth and change sexual characteristics (Green 81). Performance-enhancing drugs and steroids have been proven to be harmful to ones health according to many studies.

These studies have shown that steroids have been a major factor in causing liver damage, cardiomyopathy (the wearing out of the heart), jaundice, peliosis hepatis (blood filled cysts that form in the liver), and adverse affects on both the cardiovascular system and on the reproductive system (Meer 97) other side affects which are shared by both sexes which include high blood pressure, water retention, depression, cholesterol problems, septic shock, diarrhea, continuous bad breath, heart disease, yellowing of the eyes or skin (due to liver problems), insomnia, fetal damage for pregnant women, aggressive behavior, and of course, death (Bamberger 61). Yet, women and men are still willing to risk their health and their lives in order to win and stay competitive in the world of sports. These products have also been linked to causing some forms of cancer. Due to these hazards, many performance-enhancing drugs have been banned in certain national and international sports, such as the NFL, NBA, ABA, WNBA, CFL, AFL and the Olympics (61).

Although these performance-enhancing supplements are banned, this does not mean that athletes participating in these sports do not take them, however. Professional athletic sports are a major area in which performance-enhancing drugs are used. Although some people use them just to try to make themselves look bigger and better, most people use them to help keep up with the competition in athletic events. The use of performance-enhancing supplements and drugs gives the user an unfair advantage over their competition through achieving strength in a shorter amount of time. The main purpose of performance-enhancing supplements is to get bigger and better faster. Unfortunately, it is not just the major athletes in pro sports and in the Olympics who use these drugs.

Performance-enhancing drugs are used in all levels of competition today, whether it is in the Olympics, in pro sports, in colleges, or even in high schools. In our society today we have seen an increase in the amount of high school athletes using performance-enhancing supplements for the sole purpose of achieving victory. Steroids use permeates at all levels of sports, threatening the futures of hundreds of thousands of teenagers (Blair 17). The issue concerning teens and performance-enhancing drugs is a rapidly growing one. According to Nuwer in his book Steroids, almost 66% of male high school seniors have used anabolic steroids at least one point during their short lives so far (65). Also, Nuwer says that … dical researchers believe that between one and three million youths and adults have taken anabolic steroids in one form or another specifically to enhance their looks or athletic performances (61).

Athletes hear about professional athletes using the drugs and they see the difference it makes, but what they don’t know or don’t care about are the long-term effects. The effects on teenagers are similar to the effects on adults. If a teenager starts out using at a young age and constantly uses these supplements, the long term side affects are more likely to be life threatening. Over eight percent of high scholars use anabolic steroids (Goldwire). Medical researchers believe that between one and three million youths and adults have taken anabolic steroids in one form or another specifically to enhance their physical appearance (Day 45).

Another large part of the use of performance enhancing drugs is in colleges. College athletes take a big risk in using these types of drugs because they can jeopardize the scholarships that they have worked so hard to earn. When other athletes use performance enhancing drugs they can sometimes force a teammate to use. Most of the time, the athletes on the team distribute the drugs so that it can improve the team. A study found that seventy percent of users got their drugs from the black market as their drug source (Wright 52). Athletes see other people taking these drugs who are excelling in events, breaking records, and bulking up and they feel in order to compete at the next level they must do the same.

Also, many athletes are misinformed about the dangers of performance-enhancing supplements, but on the other hand many athletes are aware of the dangers and consequences of taking these enhancers. In professional sports it is very likely to see performance enhancing supplements while athletes are in the training stages before their season begins. Performance-enhancing drugs in sports has been known for generations, the users have generally constituted a small minority of athletes (Nardo 24). The Olympics have been long known for having athletes take steroids. For years now, certain countries such as the former Country of East Germany and the former U. S. S. R. , as well as China, have had a number of athletes who have taken performance-enhancing supplements leading up to and during Olympic competition.

Bob Costas reports in a recent Sports Illustrated: Theyre building into a power, but amidst suspicionsespecially concerning their track athletes, female swimmers, and in the weight lifting arena alone, Chinese women eclipsed every world record in all nine-weight classes, possibly using performance-enhancing drugs (18). Currently there is an investigation involving coaches and athletes from Germany who competed in the 1976 Olympics. As Don Kardong reports in Runners World: A German investigator is searching for evidence for a criminal trial of four coaches and two doctors accused of giving steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to unsuspecting athletes (72).

For years athletes in the Olympics have been using performance-enhancing supplements that have been banned from competition, some have not been caught but others havent been so lucky. Ben Johnson was an Olympic runner who represented Canada. In 1988 he was disqualified from the Olympics after winning the gold medal in the 100-meter dash because he tested positive for steroids. Ben Johnson was banned from the Olympics and his great career and reputation was ruined. In an article by Michael Janofsky for the New York Times stated that medical and legal experts as well as drug traffickers estimated that at least half of the nine thousand athletes who compete in the Olympics have used steroids (Nardo 17). In the past three decades, steroids have been becoming a serious problem more than ever in the athletic field.

The use of drugs by athletes has become a major problem: Not that drug abuse is anything new in sports, it has just picked up new momentum (Reilly 41). They’re used in controlling inflammation, strengthening weakened hearts, preventing conception, and alleviating symptoms of arthritis and asthma (Cowart 33). Unfortunately research has shown that steroids have been abused in almost every kind of sport. Although steroids contribute to a muscular body, usage should remain illegal because they physically deteriorate and mentally destroy the body. Researchers have noticed changes in brain wave activity in steroid users (Nardo 24). Many people are fascinated about steroids because of their ability to build up the body. Whether taken by injection or the pill it increases strength and endurance.

Yes Steroids do lead to the increase of muscle mass, but they also lead to serious problems in the long run (Alvin 64). Steroids also help in the healing process of muscular tissue by first injuring them, then the muscles heal quicker adding more fiber increasing their bulk (Edelson 138). Steroids are also very hard to trace because of their water base composition. They can pass through the body within two days (140). All these benefits of steroids help athletes become more competitive and increase their chance of becoming a winner. Of course everybody wants better biceps and triceps but when using steroids to achieve this goal there is a large price to pay.

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