Steroid Use By Athletes Should be Banned
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- Length: 2039 words (5.8 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
It is amazing what athletes will do to achieve higher levels of performance and to sometimes get the extra edge on the competition. Most of the time people do not realize the long-term effects that result from the decisions they make early in life. This resembles the use of steroids in a person’s life.
Steroids became an option to athletes in the Olympics and other major sporting events during the 1950’s. But this use of steroids among athletes only became widely apparent when Canadian sprint runner Ben Johnson tested positive for steroid use after winning the gold medal for the one hundred-meter dash during the 1988 Olympics (Francis, 45). Now a skinny fifteen-year-old can just walk down to the local gym and find people who either sell or know how to get in contact with those who sell the drug that will make him envious of his friends. Steroids are an attractive drug. While steroids seem harmless to the unaware user, they can have a risky effect. Most of the time whether the users are new or experienced, they do not know the dangerous consequences steroids can have on their bodies and their minds. Though steroids cause a relatively insignificant number of deaths in our society, the banning of steroids is justified because steroids have a lot of side effects not known to the uninformed user.
Even though steroids are known as a somewhat dangerous substance, they are legal to have and to consume. There has not been a study that proves such possible side effects are linked to medical problems of steroid users (Rogak, 89). There are those who have pointed out several cases where someone has died and an autopsy has shown that the person was using steroids, but they claim this does not mean that it is a deadly drug as some medical professionals have stated (97). Some advocates of steroids believe that because steroids are legal, and because it is the decision of the user to take the drug, steroids are not causing a problem in society. Alcohol and cigarettes are consumed by millions of people, causing a lot of deteriorating effects on their bodies, but there has never been a ban on these items because of the dangers that they can cause. Why should steroids be different? Some people say that the wide spread use of steroids among athletes is forcing the young athletes to use steroids, even though it is against their standards.
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Steroids Using Steroids Ben Johnson Sporting Events Side Effects Term Effects Steroid Use Skinny User Meter
This is because they know they can not compete at the level against their opponents who are using steroids to go to the next level of performance. A lot of people claim that this is how competition is supposed to be. Race car drivers are out there every day, pushing themselves to the limit. They are taking that corner a little bit faster, putting themselves in danger just a little bit more. This is no different than the risk football players, wrestlers, and weight lifters take when they decide to use steroids to take them to the next level. There are the people who justify steroid abuse because of these reasons, claiming that their use in sports and other activities are just the added element that an athlete needs to boost their performance.
However, there has not yet been any definite medical research to prove that steroid abuse is linked to severe medical conditions (Cowart, 33). Only the warnings that come from users that are currently dealing with medical difficulties that most likely have been a result of steroid use. These people are living proof of the harmful effects of steroids. Cigarettes and alcohol are major contributors to thousands of deaths each year (47). A lot of people have family members or friends that are suffering from diseases and health conditions cause by smoking and drinking. Sometimes these can lead to an early grave, sometimes a very painful death. Some people will use these situations as a reason not to drink or smoke. A similar situation would be a young athlete watching their muscular idols suffering from medical problems caused by steroids. Some of these professionals will even admit to their former steroid abuse in hopes to persuade the thousands of young athletes that the quick results of steroids do not pay off in the end. When these kids see the long-term results that occur to professional athletes, they should realize the need to stay away from steroids or give up the addiction that they have to them. This might mean they will have to give up the idea of the body that they have always dreamed of. If someone who was currently abusing steroids was to listen to what a former addict has gone through, that person might very well be persuaded to give up the addiction. In the end these people would have the advantage because they will be the ones who are going to live a longer and happier life.
Also, the physiological and psychological dependencies caused by steroids are most of the time consistent with steroid abusers (Silverstein, 61). These problems cause personal problems with the user as well as with the family and friends of the user. Once a young user sees the results in his body from the steroids, there is no turning back. It would be his worst nightmare to go back to that little body that was made fun of or picked on in school. When athletes see the performance advantages that they have gained, they will soon want to take more steroids because they will get used to the level they have obtained. For the athletes to stop and drop the addiction all of the sudden is not possible because second best is not acceptable in their minds. These addictions can also lead them to lose interest in friends and family because they are concentrating only on their physique and their athletic improvements. One of the worst results of steroid abuse is that the drug will cause “roid rages.” This is when out of no where there are spontaneous acts of violence and abuse towards anyone a user comes in contact with. Roid rage is usually caused when the user is cycling on and off of steroids (Lukas, 29). This creates a psychological rollercoster that can lead to violent outbursts because of the need to workout and release tension. The situation can be worse if the user is non-athletic because football players can release a lot of their rage on the field. Some sever addictions can include symptoms such as increased libido, sexual perversion, and psychotic episodes (48). Steroid induced criminal violence and murder has been documented many times (Park, 97).
For instance, Horace K. Williams, a twenty-three year old steroid user, was tried in May 1988 for the brutal murder of a hitchhiker (Gallaway, 104). Williams did not have a violent history and he did not have any major psychological problems. But Williams had started using steroids in order to improve his athletic performance. He played football in high school and after high school he got into bodybuilding. During his trial he described how steroids changed his behavior. In his first stage of steroid use, he used 5mg of oral Dianabol for two weeks and then 25mg per day for the next five weeks. Williams experienced an increase in confidence, which increased his ability to ask women out. This gave him a strong willingness to train harder. He also was increasing the steroids he used. He now was stacking Dianabol and oxymetholone orally along with injections of testosterone cypionate. He then described how he became easily agitated into violent behavior and he then was going around threatening people. At one time he tried to get off steroids but he “was so depressed that I thought I might kill myself if I didn’t get back on steroids. I felt like a wimp when I wasn’t on steroids.” He then started taking higher doses, stacking four to five different steroids daily. He became obsessed with fighting, he felt like everyone was afraid of him, and he got to the point were he could not control his own madness. Steroids caused this state of mind in Williams. One night he picked up a hitchhiker, drove him to an empty field, undressed him, beat him to death with a board and a lead pipe, scalped him, shaved the hair off his arms and legs, hung him with a rope, and repeatedly ran him over with his car (121).
Steroids are also becoming more common in women’s athletics. The doses of steroids that women will take when they are cycling on steroids can have a lot of dangerous side effects. Some of the short-term effects involve deepened voice, loss of scalp hair, growth of facial hair and chest hair, and also genital problems. Women may also have irregularities in their menstrual cycle. The long-term side effects for women have not been determined yet.
Even with all of these effects, steroid use is very common in the sports world (Courson, 88). Athletes who use steroids do not think of themselves as cheaters. Many set high goals for themselves and work hard at achieving them. Steroids are seen as just a way to help them work harder and more effectively. Athletes that do not use steroids know that steroid users have an unfair advantage. United States shot –putter Augie Wolf summarized many athletes’ feelings: “Drug taking is rampant. Only the uninformed get caught. The pressure to take drugs is enormous. An athlete asks himself, ‘Do I take drugs and win medals, or do I play fair and finish last’?” Bill Curry, football coach at Alabama, comments, “The system is saying do whatever it takes to win. It is saying, ‘We’ll make you rich, famous and put you on TV.’ We are a quick-fix society that wants the rush, that medal, that national championship” (Johnson, 50).
In addition, Retired sprinter Carl Lewis, who has won nine Olympic gold medals, came out with comments about drugs in modern sports. He called it “lies and cover-ups” by some track and field administrators who protect athletes who use performance enhancing drugs. Lewis said that authorities overlook many infractions and contended that it is “no coincidence” that most of the current high-profile drug controversies involve athletes over the age of thirty. Lewis went on to say “the sport is losing credibility because people know it is dirty. We need to change the whole moral standard of this sport”(Thibault, 2).
If professional athletes are taking steroids, then a high school athlete has to be kicking the thought around of trying steroids. They have to wonder how they are going to succeed if
they do not take them. Steroid use could possibly be lowered in high school age kids if their high school physical education teachers taught their students about the effects of steroids and the lifestyle it could lead to.
Just because there is no official proof that steroids can damage and possibly kill is no reason to allow steroids to be legal in out society. No proof does not mean that the dangers do not exist. Every year more and more famous retired athletes are admitting to steroid use in their career, and admitting certain medical problems as a result of their steroid abuse. People need to listen to what they have to say, and use them as the example for teaching the younger crowd. The banning of steroids would not only help the people who are currently abusing them, but also it help taper the spread of addiction to steroids in society.
Courson, Steve. False Glory. Stamford: Longmeadow Press, 1991.
Cowart, Virginia. Anabolic Steroids. Carmel: Benchmark Press, 1990.
Francis, Charlie. Speed Trap. New York: St. Maartin’s Press, 1990.
Gallaway, Steve. The Steroid Bible. Sacramento: BI Press, 1997.
Johnson, Neil. Foul Play: Drug Abuse In Sports. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986.
Lukas, Scott. Steroids. Springfield: Enslow Publishing, 1994.
Park, Roberta. Sport and Exercise Science. Chicago: University of Illinios Press, 1992.
Rogak, Lisa. Steroids, Dangerous game. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1992.
Silverstein, Robert. Steroids: Big Muscles, Big Problems. Hillside: Enslow Publishers, 1992.
Thibault, Steve. “Lewis Lashes Out At Drug Coverups.” The Boston Globe 22 Nov. 1999: 2d.
Fans hold up a sign during a 2004 game between the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants. Giants slugger Barry Bonds has long been accused of steroid use. Al Bello/Getty Images hide caption
Fans hold up a sign during a 2004 game between the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants. Giants slugger Barry Bonds has long been accused of steroid use.Al Bello/Getty Images
The Unedited Debate (1 hour, 52 minutes)
Produced for broadcast by WNYC, New York.
The debate over athletes' use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs has taken on newfound urgency in recent months.
A report by former Sen. George Mitchell, released in December, mentioned dozens of baseball players as having used steroids and described their use as "widespread." Track star Marion Jones pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about steroid use in October. And last summer, several riders were dismissed from the Tour de France on charges of using banned substances.
Those who oppose the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs say that the athletes who use them are breaking the rules and getting an unfair advantage over others. Opponents of the drugs say the athletes are endangering not only their own health, but also indirectly encouraging youngsters to do the same.
Others maintain that it is hypocritical for society to encourage consumers to seek drugs to treat all sorts of ailments and conditions but to disdain drug use for sports. They say the risk to athletes has been overstated and that the effort to keep them from using performance-enhancing drugs is bound to fail.
Six experts on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs recently took on the issue in an Oxford-style debate, part of the series Intelligence Squared U.S. The debates are modeled on a program begun in London in 2002: Three experts argue in favor of a proposition and three argue against.
In the latest debate, held on Jan. 15, the formal proposition was, "We should accept performance-enhancing drugs in competitive sports."
As the debate began, it was announced that former Olympics sprinter Ben Johnson, who was scheduled to argue in favor of allowing drugs, had pulled out on the advice of his lawyer because of his involvement in a lawsuit. Johnson was stripped of his gold medal in the 1988 Olympics after testing positive for steroids.
In a vote before the debate, 18 percent of audience members supported the motion to accept performance-enhancing drugs in competitive sports, and 63 percent opposed it. Nineteen percent were undecided. After the debate, 37 percent of audience members agreed with the proposition. Fifty-nine percent opposed it, and 4 percent remained undecided.
The event was held at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City and moderated by longtime sportscaster Bob Costas, who hosts NBCs Football Night in America and HBOs Inside the NFL.
Highlights from the debate:
The next debate, on the proposition "America Should Be the World's Policeman," takes place Feb. 12.
Excerpt of Balko's argument.
Radley Balko, a senior editor and investigative journalist for Reason magazine, says: "So what is this debate really all about? I'd suggest it's about paternalism, and it's about control. We have a full-blown moral panic on our hands here, and it's over a set of substances that, for whatever reason, has attracted the ire of the people who have made it their job to tell us what is and isn't good for us. Our society has an oddly schizophrenic relationship with pharmaceuticals and medical technology. If something could be said to be natural, we tend to be OK with it. If it's lab-made or synthetic, we tend to be leery. But even synthetic drugs and man-made technology seem to be OK if the aim is to make sick people better or broken people whole again."
Excerpts of Fost's argument
Norman Fost, professor of pediatrics and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, says: "I ask you in the audience to quickly name, in your own minds, a single elite athlete who's had a stroke or a heart attack while playing sports. It's hard to come up with one. Anabolic steroids do have undesirable side effects: acne, baldness, voice changes ... infertility. But sport itself is far more dangerous, and we don't prohibit it. The number of deaths from playing professional football and college football are 50 to 100 times higher than even the wild exaggerations about steroids. More people have died playing baseball than have died of steroid use."
Excerpts of Savulescu's argument
Julian Savulescu, professor of practical ethics at the University of Oxford, says: "To say that we should reduce drugs in sport or eliminate them because they increase performance, is simply like saying that we should eliminate alcohol from parties because it increases sociability. So our proposal is that we allow a modest approach. ... Our proposal is enforceable, it frees up the limited resources to focus on drugs that may be affecting children, which we grant should not have access to drugs ... As we've argued, performance enhancement is not against the spirit of sport, it's been a part of sport through its whole history, and to be human is to be better, or at least to try to be better."
Excerpts of Michael's argument
George Michael, a sportscaster and creator of the program Sports Machine, says: "I am not willing to pay the price for legalizing steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, because I've seen too often what it can do. I don't want to go to the cemetery and tell all the athletes who are dead there, 'Hey guys, soon you'll have a lot more of your friends coming, because we're going to legalize this stuff.' The only good news out of it? They wouldn't hear the news. Because they're all dead."
Excerpts of Murphy's argument.
Dale Murphy, a former Major League Baseball outfielder who started the iWon't Cheat Foundation to help rid sports of drugs, says: "We need better testing, harsher punishments and people will decide not to get involved with performance-enhancing drugs. Gambling in baseball is the perfect example. The culture of professional baseball players is the one thing they know, and one thing they learn from the minute they sign a professional contract, is that if you gamble on the game in any way, shape or form, your career will be over."
Excerpts of Pound's argument.
Richard Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency and a partner in the Canadian law firm Stikeman Elliott, says: "The use of performance-enhancing drugs is not accidental; it is planned and deliberate with the sole objective of getting an unfair advantage. I don't want my kids, or your kids, or anybody's kids to have to turn themselves into chemical stockpiles just because there are cheaters out there who don't care what they promised when they started to participate. I don't want my kids in the hands of a coach who would encourage, condone or allow the use of drugs among his or her athletes."
The Intelligence Squared U.S. series is produced in New York City by The Rosenkranz Foundation and for broadcast by WNYC.