Steroids in Sports
Steroids are an illegal substance that is banned in most major sports organizations. Athletes in today’s world are under tremendous pressure to succeed. They believe by taking these substances that they are giving an “edge” while competing. What they do not realize is they are putting their bodies in tremendous danger. Steroids can produce psychological and physical side effects. As you will see, not only are steroid users harming themselves but they are also damaging the reputation of the game and the outlook of our young fans.
After winning a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics, Ben Johnson was poised to win a gold medal in Seoul, Korea for the 1988 Summer Olympics. Johnson was lightning in the 100m final, setting a world record time at 9.79 seconds. After the race urine tests revealed the sprinter had taken Stanozolol, and he was disqualified. The Canadian government opened an inquiry into drug abuse and Johnson’s coach, Charlie Francis, testified that Ben Johnson had been using steroids for several years. Floyd Landis, the winner of the 2006 Tour de France, had an outstanding stage 17 that catapulted him to win the title. Seven years into his career he had won the greatest race of all. After the race his urine samples were unusually high with testosterone. The International Cycling Union upheld the World Anti-Doping Agency’s ruling, resulting in Landis being banned from professional cycling for two years.
Marion Jones, competing in her first Olympics, came home with three gold and two bronze medals. She is the only female athlete to achieve this great honor. After the games, Jones was constantly accused of steroid usage. Jones denied these claims even testifying before two grand juries. In October of 2007, Marion Jones admitted to steroid usage after the BALCO scandal broke. She was stripped of her five Olympic medals and sentenced to six months in prison.
Standing 6 foot 3, 254 pounds Lyle Alzado was the enforcer of the Raider Nation. A physical specimen, Alzado steam rolled opposing quarterbacks into the ground. He was twice named All-Pro for his defensive skills in the NFL. Alzado estimated he spent $30,000 a year on steroids. In his interview with Sports Illustrated, Alzado said he began taking anabolic steroids in college. Alzado said, "If you're on steroids or human growth hormone; stop. I should have." Lyle Alzado died of brain cancer in May of 1992.
Steroids can cause a person to bulk up their muscle mass but it can also have damaging, physical side effects. It causes feminization in some men with a decrease in normal sexual function. It can cause reduced sperm count and impotence. It can also cause shrinking of the testicles, and development of breasts. Women on the other hand experience masculinization. A woman’s menstrual cycle can change along with breast reduction. Her voice begins to deepen and she will then start to grow facial hair.
There are also side effects that happen to be common to steroid users of both sexes. “Acne occurs from the usage of steroids because the sebaceous glands on the skin secrete more oils due to the increase of androgen levels in the body from the steroids”, according to the Anabolic Bible. Acne is most common found on the back of a steroid abuser. Weight gain is another factor in steroid users. The human body naturally uses steroids to regulate our system. If a natural hormone is out of balance, it can cause weight gain by slowing down your metabolism. Steroids create a higher level of testosterone that increases the protein synthesis rate to add mass. Steroid use can result in the formation of blood-filled liver cysts. This can cause scarring, increase of blood pressure, and internal bleeding. Another consequence of steroid use on the liver is the formation of benign tumor. This usually ends in death.
Besides the physical side effects there are psychological aspects the abuser has to deal with on a daily basis. Roid rage, according to the Medical Dictionary, is defined as an acute psychotic response, uncontrolled outbursts of anger, frustration or combativeness of unknown pathogenesis seen in those who abuse anabolic steroids, typically in body builders. Roid rage can cause feelings of invincibility, to bouts of outright rage, to a complete depressive state. To help control drug usage, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1991. In 2004, Congress amended this law to include steroids. According to the amendment, “anabolic steroid means any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone.” This amendment also allows for the federal government to review and amend this law, and calls for schools to get grants to teach the dangers of anabolic steroids; but are we putting it to use?
Major League Baseball has also passed penalties on steroid users. If a player test positive for steroids a suspension of 50 games is mandatory. If a player is caught a second time the suspension is 100 games and a third time will cause a life time ban to be imposed. The problem is that there is certain time frame the specimen has to be tested or the player can be reinstated without penalty. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers is a prime example.
Steroid usage is a growing problem and we need a more stringent stance against steroids and drugs in sports. Personally, I think there should be a one year ban on a first time offender in professional sports with a second offense resulting in the player being banned for life. In college and universities around the world there needs to be a one year ban on the offending player and a second offense would cost the player his scholarship and being permanently kicked off the team. There also needs to be mandatory tests done for human growth hormone.
Clearly, you can understand that steroids have a damaging effect not only our bodies but on our young people as well. As a child you look up to the Jerry Rice’s or the Ozzie Smith’s. You idolize them and want to play the game like they did. What happens when your son or daughter wants to be the next Lance Armstrong? Will they stick a syringe in their bottom to get an edge?
Anabolic Bible. "Steroid Side Effects." Steroid Side Effects. Anabolic Steroids Bible, 2002. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. Farlex, Inc. "Roid Rage." The Free Dictionary by Farlex. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2013. Pampel, Fred C. "Drugs and Sports." Http://www.scribd.com. Facts on File Publishing, 2007. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. Puma, Mike. "Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight." ESPN Classic. ESPN, n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2013.