The Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports

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Is the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports dangerous? To what degree do these drugs really enhance strength, size, training ability, and muscular performance? Not only are the answers to these questions still unclear, they are the subjects of deep controversy. In order to understand why we are confronted with the problem of performance-enhancing drug use in athletics today, we must look at the history of the development of anabolic steroids: a group of powerful synthetic chemical compounds that resemble the natural male sex hormones (Schwarzenneger 722). Anabolic steroids were first developed in the 1930's as a therapeutic drug to treat growth hormone replacement in deficient children, menopausal symptoms, impotence, and the retardation of the effects of aging by stimulating the rate of synthesis of protein molecules (Biology 121 Web Project 1). These steroids are a simulated testosterone hormone of the "steroid hormone" group. The steroid hormones (which are also produced naturally) are synthesized from cholesterol. Most simply understood, the hormones function by passing from the blood stream into individual cells where they bind to a receptor and activate certain genes that cause the production of a protein, especially muscle proteins (et. al.). By the late 1940's, bodybuilders had discovered the effects of testosterone as a means to stimulate muscle growth and to make themselves train with more intensity and aggression (Schwarzenneger 723). In 1953, the first truly synthetic anabolic steroid was developed, having a strength-building effect three to five times higher than testosterone. From bodybuilders to other athletes, steroid use quickly gained popularity as the number of people who used them continued to rise (Biology 121 Web Project 1). In the 1960 Olympic games, the International Olympic Committee, for the first time, detected a case of steroid use-a Russian cyclist collapsed and died after using steroids (Meoreira de Araujo 1). At the 1972...
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