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Performance-Enhancement Drugs In Sports

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One of the most exciting sports stories in recent years was the attempt to break Roger Maris’ single-season homerun record [sixty-two] in baseball. On September 8, 1998 , Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals made history by hitting his sixty-second homerun. However, many people believe that McGwire’s record is tarnished by the revelation that he had been using androstendione , a compound that temporarily boosts the levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. This finding drew attention to a growing problem with performance-enhancing drug use in professional and amateur sports. Performance-Enhancing drugs harm the health of athletes, damage the integrity of sports, and cause cheating;therefore, they should be prohibited from all sports.

Performance-Enhancing drugs are quickly becoming a problem in the world of sports. A performance-enhancing drug can be defined as any substance used to get an advantage over the competition. Some athletes take them to break records or increase there chances of winning, while others do it to stay competitive with the ones who already do them. The illegal use of drugs by an athlete is called “doping”. There are several different drugs you can get in this day and age.

Different Types of Drugs

The first class of drugs is used to increase muscle strength and build mass. Anabolic steroids and human growth hormone(hGH) are prime examples of this type of drug. Anabolic steroids , a synthetic copycat of testosterone, has become one of the most commonly used drugs in many sports. They create muscle growth through the stimulation of bone and muscle cells. Similarly, hGH , a natural protein hormone , increases muscle mass by stimulating the production of protein and bone, as well as reduces body fat.

The other classes of drugs give unfair advantages to athletes in other ways. The second class of drugs is used for increasing the amount of oxygen in the body’s tissues. These drugs , including the artificial hormones erythropoietin(EPO) and darbepoetin, stimulate red blood cell production, causing an oxygen increase in the blood so that athletes have more endurance, especially in cycling and track events. There are other drugs called stimulants. Stimulants cause athlete’s lungs to breathe faster, brain to work faster, and heart to beat faster. Typical users of these drugs are football players, basketball players, boxers, and track and field athletes. Another class of performance-enhancing drugs, diuretics, helps control weight. Diuretics are primary used for the purpose of losing weight rapidly by athletes who compete in sports with weight restrictions, such as wrestling, weightlifting, and boxing.

THE HISTORY OF DRUGS

Researchers are not sure on how long these drugs have been around , but they are sure that it has been a long time. Early in the twentieth century caffeine and strychnine were reported being

use by athletes. In the 1930s amphetamines came onto the scene and , due to their potency, became a favored stimulant by athletes in the �40s and �50s. Anabolic steroids were introduced in the late 1950s and became popular soon after, taking performance-enhancement to a whole new level.

Throughout the twentieth century numerous athletes were caught doping in both Olympic and non-Olympic events. One of the most infamous Olympic drug incidences was the stripping of sprinter Ben Johnson’s gold medal and world record in the 1988 Seoul Olympics f or using the anabolic steroid Stanozolol. A famous non-Olympic drug scandal occurred during the 1998 Tour de France in which France’s Festina team, along with several other teams, were disqualified and suspended from the tour because their riders were found to be taking anabolic steroids and EPO.

Currently , steroids are a pressing issue in professional baseball. Dick Patrick writes that Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, and Gary Sheffield have openly admitted to using steroids. Also, as written in the USA TODAY in 2004, six players, including Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, told a grand jury that they too used

steroids (2004).

The Health Risks

While performance-enhancing drugs do make you run faster and stronger, there are also really serious health risks. Athletes who take these drugs are risking their health, lives, and careers because many of these side effects are serious and even fatal. Anabolic steroids have the broadest range of side effects, which include heart and circulatory diseases( particularly arteriosclerosis), liver damage, and psychological changes of increased aggressiveness and irritability. Other side effects are impotence, urinating pain because of prostate enlargement, baldness. Women can have some side effects as well. They can develop breasts , as well as cycle disruption, deepened voice, and facial and bodily hair growth in women. For example, and East German Olympic swimmer in the 1970s, Christiane Knacke-Sommer,” was given regular injections of testostersone[...] without her knowledge, “ and in 1998 she claimed, in a testimony against her coaches, “that the treatments �destroyed her body and her mind, and permanently masculinized her physique and voice”(qtd. In New Yorker). In addition, Greg Strock, United States Olympic cycling team member in the early 1990s, “alleged that coaches, without their consent, doped him with steroid injections. Strock

contributes the breakdown of his immune system and the end of his promising cycling career to large doses of the drugs”(Pelkey 2000). Another drug with unhealthy side effects is human growth

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