Over the past years, we have seen an overwhelming trend regarding athletes experimenting with illegal substances. These illegal substances are increasing in quantity and becoming more and more popular among young athletes looking to enhance their performance on the field. We are hearing more and more cases of athletes getting caught with these illegal drugs in their system, especially in the game of baseball. Although we are usually only familiar with this behavior at the professional level, younger athletes are also experimenting with these drugs at the collegiate and even high school level. These younger athletes who aspire to take their athletic careers to new levels of achievement want to give themselves a competitive edge. This kind of deviant behavior is not only hurting the athletes but also hurting the image of many sports out there today. Anabolic steroids or anabolic-androgenic steroids are one of the most popular illegal substances out their today and the one in which I will be highlighting in my paper. Anabolic steroids are the synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone's natural androgenic effects trigger the maturing of the male reproductive system in puberty, including the growth of body hair and the deepening of the voice. The hormone's anabolic effect helps the body retain dietary protein, which helps in the development of muscles. "Although there are many types of steroids with varying degrees of anabolic and androgenic properties, it's the anabolic property of steroids that lures athletes," says Dr. Wadler, a New York University School of Medicine professor and lead author of the book Drugs and the Athlete. "They take them to primarily increase muscle mass and strength." Steroids can be taken either orally or through injection. Oral steroids include Anadrol, Oxandrin, Dianabol, and Winstrol, while some examples of injectable steroids include Durablolin, Deca-durabolin, Depo-testosterone, and Equipoise. Many users prefer the injectable version of steroids because of how quickly the body reacts to them and also because they are believed to have fewer health risks. These drugs are only legal by prescription and are prescribed to treat a variety of conditions that cause a loss of lean muscle mass. Aids patients are usually given some form of steroids in order to gain some of the muscle that they lose, just to give you an idea of what kind of treatments they are used for. Despite the illegality of these drugs athletes continue to use them. Because of the huge problem with anabolic steroids especially in sports, there have been many actions to curtail the usage of these illegal drugs. In January 2005, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act was altered with the Controlled Substance Act that added anabolic steroids and prohormones to the list of controlled substances and makes ownership of the substances a federal crime. Still, some athletes continue experimenting with them illegally, despite the fact that steroids can lead to many serious health problems.
As mentioned before, anabolic steroids are illegal and banned from almost all major sports. Sport franchises are now forced to keep a closer eye on their athletes and their supplement intake. The most disturbing consequence that steroid usage is presenting to me is the image it is leaving on our sports. Many years ago, athletes relied on their natural ability to perform at a high level in their given sports. Many records were set by these athletes, which were meant to be long-lasting records. These players who are using anabolic steroids and other illegal substances are giving themselves an unfair advantage and placing a horrible image on sports in general. Many of these records are now being broken or close to being broken, but much scrutiny is starting to be placed on the athletes because of the idea of steroids. This is especially true with major league baseball. More and more athletes are hitting the ball harder and farther. With athletes like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, hitting more than 70 home runs in a single season, and going from average looking guys to massive, bulky body-builders, it is hard for our society not to question what is happening to the world of sports. Barry Bonds has the all time home run record and single season home run record, but did he achieve this unbelievable feat in a fair way? Many people still remember the fast and skinny Barry Bonds when he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates so when he came back a season looking like the incredible hulk, many people questioned his training process. The original all time home run record was set by Hank Aaron, who did this by his natural talent and hard work. Is it fair to take away these records from the older athletes who were in an era when anabolic steroids were unheard of? This trend is growing rapidly today in sports and it is taking a lot of the integrity away from them. More and more athletes are being put on trial for these dangerous drugs, and many fans are wondering what is to become of our sports and athletes. People want their favorite athletes to succeed and do well, but not in a way that is unfair to the sport. We teach our kids from a young age, how cheating is bad and to always be honest, what does this type of behavior prove to them? This trend has to stop or society may lose hope in our beloved sports entirely. Lou Brock, a past professional baseball player states, “We have to make some radical move to get the attention of everyone. Cheaters can't win and steroids have put us in the position that it's OK to cheat.” There is a terrible image being placed on sports and some of its most popular athletes today. A more important ramification of anabolic steroids is the health and behavioral problems that it presents to the athletes using them. Anabolic steroids are very dangerous drugs that can bring on a list of short term and long term side effects to the users along with uncontrollable aggression. Some common side effects for males include acne, testicular atrophy, decreased sperm count, gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men), high blood pressure, increased LDL (bad) cholesterol, decreased HDL (good) cholesterol, fluid retention, abnormal liver function, and prostate enlargement, just to name a few. Women can experience many of the same dangerous effects as men including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and liver damage. Women are also likely to develop acne, facial hair, deepening of the voice, and decreased breast size. People are unaware that females are also using anabolic steroids as well. These athletes who are taking anabolic steroids are putting their health in danger, and will pay the consequences down the road in life. Many of these athletes are not even considering the short term and long term effects of steroids and even though using them may bring on improvement in their athletic performance; these drugs will inevitably be detrimental to the athlete’s overall health, especially long term.
Alex Rodriguez had a huge year in 2003 when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers. In that same year he tested positive for two anabolic steroids. Rodriguez was among 104 other players who all tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball’s 2003 survey testing. The results of that year’s survey testing of 1,198 players were meant to be anonymous under the agreement between the commissioner’s office and the players association. However Rodriguez’s testing information was found after federal agents seized the 2003 test results from Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc. Rodriguez was caught for taking testosterone booster and also an anabolic steroid known by the brand name Primobolan. Primobolan improves strength and maintains lean muscle and can be injected or taken orally. Kirk Radomski, who was the former New York Mets clubhouse employee who recently pleaded guilty to illegal distribution of steroids to many major league players, described how players frequently turn to drugs such as Primobolan, in part to avoid detection in testing. Primobolan is detectable for a shorter period of time as opposed to other steroids. Because more than 5% of players in the Major League tested positive in 2003, baseball implemented a mandatory random-testing program, with penalties, in 2004. Alex Rodriguez had a stand-out year in 2003, and was on track to beat records set by some of the best baseball players of all time. However, Rodriguez tried to cheat the system and improve his performance in a way that is forbidden by the MLB. To put more simply, Rodriguez cheated and now all that he worked to achieve will be under scrutiny by the public. Would have he performed to the level he did, if it not were for his usage of anabolic steroids? The results of the 2003 test survey proved that the MLB had a bigger problem with anabolic steroids than they ever imagined.
Another great example of steroids being used in sports today is that of the former track star, Ben Johnson. Ben Johnson was a former sprinter for Canada who participated in the 1988 Summer Olympics, and really thrived as a sprinter in the 1980’s. He won two Olympic bronze medals and also achieved an Olympic gold. He set a record of 9.38 seconds in the 100 meter dash and then went on to set another record in 1988. Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal and disqualified from the Olympic Games after he was caught for using steroids. Not only did he lose his Olympic title, but also both of the records he set, which were erased. There have been many cases of steroid usage even in the prestigious Olympic Games. Another popular athlete that many people are familiar with is Marion Jones. Marion admitted to using steroids as she prepared for the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. Jones was stripped of her five medals that she won during the Olympics, 3 of which were gold medals. It is not hard to see with these many examples of steroid usage in sports, that this dilemma is placing a major burden on sports today. Some people may never look at sports and its athletes the same way ever again.
"Anabolic Steroids and Sports: Winning at Any Cost." Anabolic Steroids and Sports: Winning at Any Cost. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2012. <http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1210/>. I used this website to understand just how prevalent steroids are becoming among athletes at the high school, collegiate and professional level. I also used this website to help explain to me some of the reason athletes may pursue using these illegal substances. It went into good detail about how exactly anabolic steroids can benefit athletes and improve their performance. The article came from the Department of Health in New York. "DrugFacts: Steroids (Anabolic-Androgenic)." Steroids (Anabolic-Androgenic). N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2012. <http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/steroids-anabolic-androgenic>. I used this website to help me understand how steroids can actually affect your body. This website explained the long term and short term consequences that steroids can have on an individual’s overall health. It was amazing to see all of the side effects that steroids can present on your body. Katz, Jeffrey. "Should We Accept Steroid Use in Sports?" NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 30 June 2012. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18299098>. This website allowed me to better analyze the major impact steroids in sports is having on our society, and how it is placing a terrible image on our athletes today. It also went into detail about the famous case