Why Performance Enhancing Drugs In Professional Sport Should Be Illegal

A big issue most people are aware of is the use of drugs. Every drug can have severe effects to the body over a long period of time that people ignore or are unaware of. Although this drug is no different, the use of Performance enhancing drugs or anabolic steroids is very popular among Professional and amature athletes all around the world and in this case used for “good” reasons. The question is, should this be legal for professional athletes to use to overcome fatigue they take over the span of their career. The answer is No! This has become a major issue because of the dangers it can cause to the human body, and because it is just flat out cheating and unfair. Steroids work in ways that affect the body similar to adding testosterone. It also increases protein synthesis and decrease the natural breakdown of muscles, which give athletes lean muscle mass like they want. Steroids also come with major side effect like they alter blood lipids and it increases your chances of heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases at early ages. Steroids can also affect boys and girls differently as well as affect sexual development and natural production of testosterone. For over one hundred years, sports have been used as a gateway for athletes to showcase many physical attributes such as, strength, agility, speed, stamina, toughness, and more. As a result, a big problem professional sports like football and baseball face are athletes using performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents. Some examples of performance enhancing drugs include, anabolic steroids and testosterone or hormone boosters.

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Over the years, organizations have made many strict rules that include routine drug-test and check-ups, but as pharmaceuticals become more accessible, athletes seem to find ways around it and it makes fans question if some milestones were achieved fairly or not. A person’s desire to win, or to be the best has lead to a major epidemic involved with many team and individual sports. This problem is the use of performance enhancing drugs. Very popular performance enhancing drugs for athletes to use are anabolic steroids which can be all natural or synthetic substances which may help with the building of muscle mass and the recovery of workouts. Some other popular drugs athletes abuse for strength and endurance is Human Growth Hormones, or “HGH” and tetrahydrogestrinone. The use of anabolic steroids did not become illegal until 1990, but evidence and confessions of use date back to the early 1900s. This leaves fans wondering all around the country if these milestones and accolades athletes have reached, were achieved in a valid way, or with the help of Performance enhancing drugs.

Performance enhancing drugs is said to be first introduced in 1889 when Charles Brown-Sequard invented what he called “Elixir of Life.” Pud Galvin who played for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys otherwise known as the Pittsburgh Pirates used the elixir of life in his first Major League Baseball game and secured the win as a pitcher. This usage later gained the name “doping,” and was not common for individuals to use until the end of World War 2. This was because many soldiers who had returned from war brought new-found knowledge back home of stimulants known as “amphetamines” that was given to soldiers to help with the pain and fatigue faced during combat. This use was not violating any rules because the drugs were not yet under any sort of federal control. By 1960, amphetamines became popular in individual sports such as track and field and cycling. Which ultimately began the craze of usage we still see now in all sports.

As the years passed, big organizations began catching on to how athletes were accomplishing feats that were said to be impossible at the time. In 1981 an American discus thrower for the Olympic team tested positive for steroids and as a result his world record was taken from him. That is one of the first known cases of an athlete getting caught for his usage which led to more drug tests and laws to be set. In 1987 The National Football League began testing players for steroids and two years later congress passes the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which made providing and possession of anabolic steroids for non-medical purposes a crime. It wasn’t until 2003 Major League Baseball began testing for steroids which quickly sparked many controversies and expulsions of many “great” baseball players we have seen in the history of the sport.

Many fans, news reporters and broadcasters, have since been talking about the epidemic because between five and seven percent of about one thousand four hundred and eight anonymous tests, were positive, which triggered the start for the option to penalize players for the use. A book written by Students from The University of California, Berkeley entitled “Steroids and Major League Baseball” investigates the economic motivations of the use in particularly the sport baseball. The book also states that prior to the 2003 rule of testing for steroids, the evidence of use was already “rampant.” It goes along by saying, “Offensive numbers were way up. In 1996, the Orioles, Mariners, and A’s all broke their single season home run records. 1998 saw Mark McGwire destroy Roger Marisí home run record, closely followed by Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa. Three years later, Barry Bonds broke McGwireís home run record. A change in the nature and frequency of injuries also pointed to increased steroid use. The number of players on the Disabled List increased by 31%, from two hundred sixty six in 1989 to three hundred forty nine in 1998, and the average stay on the Disabled List increased 13% over the same period. Furthermore, the nature of injuries changed to ailments resulting from oversized muscles ripping away from bones that could no longer support them.” This later leads on to Ken Caminiti, who became the very first professional baseball player to confess to the use.

A very controversial solution that can be found in an Article called “Baseball and Steroids: What’s the Big Deal?” states a possible solution in an almost fiction sort of way. The writer Deni Carise begins by giving what she experienced when professional baseball began to test for steroids. She goes on by saying “Although it is impossible to know exactly what percentage of major league players actually have used steroids or other performance-enhancing substances over the years, numerous well-known (and obscure) players have come forward to suggest that use of these drugs has long been rampant in the game. For example, in 2003, David “Boomer” Wells claimed that up to 40 percent of major leaguers use steroids. More recently (2005), Jose Canseco estimated that 80 percent of major leaguers had taken steroids and credited the drug for his entire career. And there have been scores of others with names familiar even to a non-baseball aficionado like me:​ Ken Caminiti​,​ Mark McGwire​,​ Sammy Sosa​,​ Roger Clemens​, Barry Bonds​,​ A-Rod​. The list goes on.” If it is true about that many players being involved with the use at that time, How can “America’s Favorite past-time” even be pleasant to watch with all the money and endorsements made a year. She then begins her controversial method for solution by saying, “But if steroids in one form or another have been around this long and have always been prevalent, why all the sudden fuss? It might be wise to consider some different strategies. For example, maybe we should simply form another baseball league, one that wouldn’t play in the current National or American Leagues, but a separate one, where the teams would not be tested for performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. I mean, if so many athletes are currently using – and most don’t want to quit – and they aren’t going to be welcome in the MLB, it seems like a good business opportunity to create an “Enhanced League” where this is not an issue.

Here’s an added incentive: it is likely that in this Enhanced League, players (and franchises) would make even more money. One study that examined a player’s “OPS” – a combination of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage – found that an increase​ in OPS of .100 leads to an estimated salary increase of $2 million.​ Improved performance from steroids would certainly elevate a player’s OPS (not to mention the increase in player product sales and endorsement deals for such exemplary athletic performance). And while there are outliers such as Pete Rose who played 3,562 games and Nolan Ryan who played 27 seasons,​ the average career of the major league baseball player is 5.6 years​, so if he starts taking steroids immediately, we can expect him to make an additional $11,200,000”. The argument she showcases is that everyone is already aware of the consequences of an “Enhanced League” but she argues, that’s what fans like to see because of violent sports that are thriving such as football, boxing, and hockey. She states in this “so called league”, “Players would need to wear more protective gear – they’re going to get hit harder by other players running to base and by the balls hit into the field. Recent increases in the nature and frequency of MLB injuries – as indicated by the 31% increase in the number of players on the Disabled List (DL) from 1989 to 1998, and the 13% increase in average stay on the Disabled List over the same period -have been attributed to steroid use. One explanation for this is that the​ increase of muscle mass or striated muscle speed associated with anabolic steroid use is not accompanied by a proportionate increase in strength of the tendons, ligaments and joints​. The types of injuries seen most commonly in baseball today result from muscles ripping away from tendons and joints that can no longer support them, which was typically not seen years ago. So careers would be shortened. And since​ only 4.3% of MLB players have a 4-year college degree​, that could leave former players with remarkably decreased earning potential later.”

As anti-dope rules and randomized drug testing began with all sports, athletes began to find their own solutions to this problem by finding more and more clever ways to get that extra “help” they needed to perform at levels they wanted to. An example of this discussed in an article written by Akshat Rathi portrays what he calls a “never-ending race” created by International Association of Athletics Federations in their efforts to ban doping in sports which is basically a “cat and mouse” game between the anti-doping agencies and athletes. He goes on by saying, “To enhance athletic performance with your own blood, you draw blood and store it in a freezer. Your body compensates by creating more blood. Then, months later, just before a competition, you can re-inject the old blood for a boost. As the red blood cell count goes up, so does an athlete’s ability to absorb oxygen. The more oxygen you grab with each breath, the more energy your body is able to burn and the better you are able to perform. Although the enhancement is small compared to actual drugs, it can be the difference between a gold medal and a silver medal. Best of all, “extra blood” was never something The World Anti Doping Agency did not test for.” Due to the over-use of this method, The World Anti Doping Agency soon caught on which has led to what he calls “one of the possible solutions to end doping once and for all.” “The idea is to record some biological traits of an athlete through testing done at regular intervals. The biological passport’s partial implementation — recording blood and steroid levels — began in January 2014.

When all necessary biological traits are finally incorporated, WADA will no longer need to worry about finding new methods to detect a drug. It will only have to detect resulting changes in the body. In the case of blood doping, if the athlete’s normal red-blood-cell count is, say, 47%, but then is found to be 51% after a competition, foul play may have been involved. The World Wide Doping Agency is confident that the biological passport could even deter genetic changes — the ultimate, ever-lasting enhancement — which are surely coming next. If an athlete inserts a performance-enhancing gene, it will probably leave detectable changes in the body, that would differ from the athlete’s profile in the biological passport.” With the growth and milestones achieved in medicine and drug-testing, it is very likely this can be one of the only ways to actually solve this problem. The problem of doping is very complicated and can not be solved easily because of the many ways athletes can be getting the “help”.

Another possible solution for athlete use is to use education to inform them. Meaning all the money professional or even college teams bring in a year, funding for a simple session to educate players about the use will help the ignorant people on the subject. Going along with this, another possible solution could be a very clear, and exact list of what performance enhancing drugs cannot be used. For example many athletes taking supplements may not be aware of what exactly they are consuming and if their respective sport allows the use of it. For example, the consumption of creatine is not made specific if it’s fine or not and causes many controversies to people that consume it. The beneficial side of steroid use in sports can maybe be a possible solution for the topic as well. After all, steroid use is prescribed by doctors for a wide variety of injuries but mainly given to athletes in shot form to help with joint pain or muscle inflammation. Can giving athletes legal doses be the answer to help reduce the number of athletes abusing it? For instance, how can pitchers all of sudden recover from “Tommy John” surgery, throwing faster than they could before, where as a few decades ago that surgery ended athlete’s careers, hence the name. Or the amazing recovering of Adrian Peterson who had blown out his whole knee just to come back to the best season he ever had. The possibilities of enhancement this drug creates you into a super-human like figure, and is dangerous not only to the consumer’s body but the players around him.

Overall, the use of performance enhancing drugs should be illegal and anyone consuming it for a reason to cheat or to get an advantage over their opponent should not be able to compete at the sport, especially the professional level. Many players stripped of awards and suspended were thought to be incredible human beings idolized by many across the country, but their achievements were never real. To know that some professional athletes are only professionals because of cheating is tough to hear from anyone that has struggled to make it as far as them. Pharmaceuticals bring to the table more and more opportunities for athletes to cheat which constantly puts then between a rock and a hard place. The controversial topic may be difficult to Gill 9 solve but has made great progress since the randomized testing and confessions of athletes, but new ways to detect use may need to be created to finally stop an end to this side of cheating in sports.

14 May 2021

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