Performance-Enhancing Drugs, various substances, chemical agents, or procedures designed to provide an advantage in athletic performance. Performance-enhancing drugs affect the body in different ways, such as enlarging muscles or increasing the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. Despite these apparent benefits, the use of such drugs is considered both competitively unethical and medically dangerous. Most performance-enhancing drugs are outlawed by organizations that govern major amateur and professional sports.
The use of substances to improve athletic performance is not a new phenomenon. There are stories dating back thousands of years regarding athletes using drugs in quest of an advantage. Historic writings refer to competitors ingesting various potions, such as ground horse hooves or sheep testicles, for the ancient Olympic Games and other events. Athletes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries attempted to gain an edge using substances such as caffeine and strychnine. Three years after a Dutch cyclist died of drug-related complications during the 1960 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) came out with its first list of prohibited drugs.
Despite the growing body of evidence of serious health risks associated with performance-enhancing drugs, the development and use of such substances have continued to increase. Rapid advances in sophisticated medical technology in recent decades have produced a wide variety of new drugs and procedures that athletes can use to gain an edge.
The demand for such substances has soared at the same time that the importance and rewards of athletic excellence have also risen dramatically. Athletes spend years training in the pursuit of championships and record-setting performances. The best amateur athletes can receive college scholarships as a reward for their abilities. The top professionals in many sports earn millions of dollars in salary, prize money, and...