Research Question: PED’s and drug use in sports. Is this a modern issue and how does this affect athletes’ careers?
In today’s society, the use of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) are changing the sports industry at a rapid pace. A performance enhancing drug is considered to be a class of steroids. The meaning of steroids is a large class of organic compounds with a characteristic molecular structure containing four rings of carbon atoms. Decades of sport scandals have come and gone and somehow more cases frequently find its way into the spotlight. The subjects of “steroids” in sports comes up in the news more now than it has ever been. Hearing that many athletes from numerous sports that have been criticised and dethroned from their remarkable achievements because they failed mandatory substance tests. There are also the major league sports athletes such as Barry Bonds who are caught using these performance enhancing substances. Athletes are convinced that taking PED’s it will up their game and send them to the peak of their athletic ability. This is a double edged sword because your physical ability reaps the benefits but your name will be slandered and any recognition or accomplishment you have received will now be overshadowed by the idea that you are a cheater. An example, Alex Rodriguez or “A-Roid” will never get the recognition he deserves just because he used performance enhancing drugs and is now labeled as a cheater. Furthermore, we will get into many interesting cases regarding some superstar athletes from former olympians to major league heros and how they are changing the game forever.
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What are the repercussions for both the athlete and the organization? How do the fans see this? Fans view steroid use villainous and a huge fault in sports, and label the athlete who was caught as a cheater. In past years, sports newscasters get into heated arguments regarding the “steroid” dilemma. It is a very controversial topic to bring up, knowing that there are many cases that have been established. Fans may also look at this as a disappointment towards their favorite player if illegal substances are being used.
A famous case that affected the sports industry was Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong is an american former professional road racing cyclist. The worst, and most shocking case of all P.E.D. scandals. Armstrong built a very large empire on his success in the cycling world and his comeback from testicular cancer which happened to be very inspiring, but all of that came to a screeching halt when the American cyclist admitted to using PEDs. Armstrong won the Tour de France seven straight times from 1999 to 2005 which is considered to be a record. He also took home a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in the men’s individual time trial. Armstrong had been caught on several occasions of using illegal substances, but he countlessly denied any use of PEDs during his career. Many people viewed this case as one of the famous ones because how big of an athlete he was. After he was unfortunately caught using steroids, he steered away from the public for a long while and then eventually announced his retirement(PressFrom).
Does the players’ statistics even matter anymore if players are cheating? There may be a legitimate reason for steroid use. One example would be that the drug helps the athlete recover way faster than the normal. Steroids help the repair process, by quickly regenerating joint tissues allowing them to return back to physical health and to compete more competitively. Steroids are extremely popular with veteran athletes. When a player ages, their skills are not as good as they once were, and they cannot produce the same results because the conditioning of younger athletes is better. By taking performance enhancers, it keeps the athlete in top notch shape, and it will help keep up with the physical demand of excess training, which will give longevity to their athletic careers. When injured, a players injury time will decrease because of taking steroids. The most popular reason according to the DEA, is that these drugs give you competitive advantage when competing (Diversion Control Division). PED’s will never disappear as long as there is competition. With athletic achievements comes the fame and fortune that many people desire. However, steroids might be in their best interest for selfish reasons but to the fans it is a huge let down.
Professional sports are very taxing to the human body as they are constantly pushing themselves new limits and they run a high risk of running into injuries and skeletal bone problems throughout the intense seasons(Web MD). The seasons and off seasons are constant workouts for these athletes, therefore keeping up with that physique and staying in shape is what’s most important. When an injury occurs on a player, it can seriously change the outcome of their career. For example, Demarcus Cousins basketball player on the Warriors tore his achilles last year. Recently, he just tore his quadricep. However, he was not a steroid case just a showing how injuries impact ones career. Now if he was to take steroids it would help him overcome these obstacles and comeback a stronger player regardless of injuries suffered. The reaction of steroids in the body can result in negative outcomes because its an unknown substance. “Although steroid use does not trigger the same intense, immediate response in the brain as another substance like cocaine, it can create changes to the brain over time. These changes can impact the production and supply of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters”(Drug abuse.com). Although, it might help your physical body recover the mental aspects are very damaging to the brain.
As many great athletes approach the end of their careers, they take performance enhancers to continue to play. As stated in the next paragraph, Mark McGwire was most famous for that because his decision of steroid use was at the peak end of his career. Him using PEDs got him an extra contract of millions which was most likely the reason he used it at that specific time. Also, new very talented prospects take steroids as they want to sustain advantage over the already stacked competition. This can affect their entire career if they are caught. A small example is a former player on the New York Mets named Jenrry Meija. He was caught using steroids 3 different times and ended up receiving a lifetime ban from the MLB. This a prime example why an athlete using steroids at the beginning of their career, can lead to consequences.
Many Major league Baseball players specifically, Barry Bonds and Mark Mcgwire took performance enhancers at the end of their careers to keep up with the new superstars of the game. Barry Bonds as many may know, has the most homeruns in history at 762. In 2007, Bonds passed Hank Aaron who had 755 home runs. A lot of fans saw this as a big controversy as they found out that he was a steroid user. This is because some may not want his home run record to count considering he was on steroids while a part of these home runs were actually hit. A lot of baseball fans ask themselves if this record would have actually been broken if he was never actually on PEDs. Jose Canseco former outfielder for the Oakland Athletics claims that 85% of major league baseball players are taking steroids (LATimes 2002). According to Mark McGwire, “I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989-1990 offseason and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again”(ESPN). Therefore, Mark McGwire was injured later in his career and than turned to steroids because he knew that his career was on the decline. “He had to hit home runs to stay in the big leagues. He ended up hitting a lot of them” stated an MLB writer from 2006 (Posnanki).
Another famous case was Alex Rodriguez’s case. He had used while he was playing for the New York Yankees towards the end of his career. Some speculate that he was using it for years prior, but there is no actual evidence stating the starting point of his substance use. He famously got the nickname that unfortunately stuck of “A-Roid”. Some other MLB athletes who were caught using steroids, but were classified as minor cases, were Dee Gordon, Manny Ramirez, Robinson Cano, and Ryan Braun. These cases differ a little from the others because no records were or are currently broken by these athletes. If records do somehow get broken, then a controversial case may eventually come about.
Many NFL football players take steroids to be able to recover faster. This is a disadvantage and a jeopardizing situation towards the older players in the sport, which ultimately give them just about no choice but to take steroids so they can enhance their game. This also means that they want to up their skill level when its on the decline, so they take PEDS mainly for that reason and to also hope for another long term contract. Most people view athletes taking steroids as a way to make them look bigger, but in reality, the case mostly is that the athletes use it to strengthen their skill level at any point of their career (mostly towards the end of it) so that they can still perform at a higher level. As more and more athletes take steroids it evens out the playing field between the younger and older athletes. Not only do the older athletes take steroids to compete longer and possibly reach for that big money contract, but high school athletes also take steroids to jumpstart their careers fairly early and to make it to the next level of competition a lot quicker then it would actually take them. There had been a case, where 2 Texas high school students were caught taking unauthorized substances. The nation’s largest steroid testing program, (known as one of the best) had actually tested more than 10,000 students but ended up only finding 2 students abusing PED’s. Athletes of all ages and sizes end up using PED’s to allow them to compete longer in their careers in that particular sport. In reality, an athlete is usually very passionate about the sport they play, so they are going to do anything they can to keep playing that sport at a high level. To them it is an honor to be able to stretch out their careers longer, but too many fans see all of these veterans and classify them as “washed up”.
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The use of anabolic PED’s is banned by all major sports, such as, MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, FIFA, etc. These are all much known sport associations, so it is fairly easy to get caught. Anabolic PED’s are controlled substances in a few countries such as, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. While in other countries, such as Mexico and Thailand, they are easy to access at any over the counter pharmacy. Some athletes purchase their steroids from countries like these because they are more attainable, but those are the athletes who are caught much quicker than others. This means that the quality and quantity is much different than steroids from other countries.
Athletes are significantly being banned more and more each year for the use of PED’s, but why do they continue to use them? This mainly has to do with the poorly enforced rules and regulations. A main reason why PED use is not allowed in all organizations in sports, is because it can negatively affect the players health. A small example, is that a young girl who was a cheerleader and a gymnast for her school, had ended up using PED’s because she wanted a six pack. According to her family, and teammates, they saw a drastic difference in her body as well as her attitude. She had lost a significant amount of weight, ended up getting sick, and then she was caught at school because of the immediate effects. PED’s can mess up a person’s attitude and health entirely. The illegal substance is not allowed for all valid reasons, but the consequences for breaking the rules does not scare athletes enough for them to abide by them. In the 1990’s, Steroids were passed as a Federal crime mainly to stop the use of drugs promoted by top tier, role model athletes. Over the last 15 years or so, there has not been a single high profile professional athlete who was arrested for abusing steroids. Some think that making non-medical steroid use a federal crime would accomplish the issues, but in reality, it would not help. Athletes who are caught using illegal substances, feel as if they are above the law. They do not receive harsh punishments in which they should, because they are apart of a specific organization . In order for sports organizations to completely suppress the use of PEDs, they would have to leave the punishments in the hands of the law. The athlete will be properly prosecuted.Therefore, there would be less controversy.
Throughout the years in sports and all competitions, steroid use has ruined the game for many fans . For everyone using illegal substances to achieve big goals and recover from injuries, come to realize the long term negative effects on their bodies. Some of the risks that come from injection include: changes in cholesterol levels, skin inflammation, hypertension, liver damage, and risky changes in the structure of the heart to name a few. These side effects can potentially be life threatening which is why athletes should try and steer away from using illegal substances. Bodies can be effected for a lifetime with these side effects and most fans think it’s not the road to go down if you have a career that is still on the upside.
This has become a modern issue because players watch career highlights of older athletes who were steroid users, and are influenced to begin taking the substance. Is it a lot easier and quicker today to get caught using these illegal substances, because random drug tests are ran many times throughout the offseason and during the regular season. Athletes today should do some research and not only look at how their careers can be jeopardized, but also how their health can be at risk. Players who have been caught in recent years, receive either a ban for half of the season, or a ban for the whole year, depending how many illegal substances they were caught taking. This can be fixed by players just naturally playing the game and not having to enhance their game in a way that is considered cheating.
There is always going to be athletes such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, and Alex Rodriguez that will abuse steroids. Athletes will take this drug for many reasons such as, better performance, boost their self esteem, and decreases injury recovery time. As stated previously, it does not give the athlete a good reputation. Many fans and organizations will look at the athlete as a cheater . In conclusion, sports and performance enhancing drugs are always going have to be linked. Serious measures must be made by the government, the player, and the organization so that this issue can completely be dissolved . It is devastating that PED use has become such a big issue over the years. It is going to change the way fans look at the athlete especially, if they are looked up to as a role model. Furthermore, if no initiative is taken on abolishing steroid use in competitive sports it will change the game forever.
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- “The 15 Biggest Steroid, P.E.D., and Doping Scandals in Sports History.” PressFrom, pressfrom.info/us/news/sports/-109462-the-15-biggest-steroid-p-e-d-and-doping-scandals-in-sports-history.html.
- “McGwire Apologizes to La Russa, Selig.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 12 Jan. 2010, www.espn.com/mlb/news/story?id=4816607.
- “Canseco: Steroid Use by Players at 85%.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 18 May 2002, www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2002-may-18-sp-bbnotes18-story.html.
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