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Performance-Enhancing Drugs In Sports

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Imagine this; in 1904 trainers give exhausted American runner Thomas Hicks a mixture of brandy and strychnine to keep him going during an Olympic road race. He wins, but subsequently collapses just past the finish line. In 1952, at the winter Olympics, several skaters become ill from amphetamines. In 1960, after taking amphetamines, Danish cyclist Knut Jensen crashes during an Olympics road race, fractures his skull, and dies. As one can see, all athletes either died or became very ill from trying to gain an edge on their competition. Those who lived were never viewed the same by the public. In today's world, taking drugs for improvement in sports is almost second nature; on the other hand, athletes do not know how many people they affect by this.

There are many types of performance enhancing drugs that athletes take and there are many adverse side affects. The first drug taken that had any effect on an athletes performance was amphetamines which were widely used by soldiers in World War II and which, in the 1950s, crossed over to sports. When taken, these drugs limit the fatigue factor one may experience during exercise. A way athletes get around being tested positive is by swapping a dirty sample of urine with a clean sample. The second drug of choice was anabolic steroids, which appeared in sports sometime after 1948. By increasing muscle size, anabolic steroids increase strength, power, and speed. They also alter mood and speeds the rate of recovery when exhausted. These types of drugs were widely used at that time, but as we have moved into the new millennium, there are wide array of drugs that athletes use on an ongoing basis.

For a growing number of athletes, winning at all costs include taking drugs to enhance their performance. Many of these modern day athletes are trying to stay above their competition but what they fail to realize is that the side effects may harm them even more down the line. As stated before, anabolic steroids is a common drug used among athletes. When taken, side effects in men may include: prominent breasts, baldness, shrunken testicles, and infertility. In women, side effects include: a deeper voice, increased body hair, baldness, and an increased appetite. Another drug taken by many athletes is creatine. Unlike the previous, creatine may have some benefit. Creatine can produce gains in muscle from a limited use of power. As the previous two drugs, there are also effects one may experience when not properly consuming creatine. These side effects may include: stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. As one can see, the many types of drugs being taken today can have serious effects on a persons' body. But as many athletes reap the rewards of these drugs, what they do not know is that as more teens watch their favorite athlete, the more they want to be like them. And being like them means doing or taking the same things the athletes do.

A case scenario, "A 16-year-old football player comes into his pediatrician's office for his yearly physical exam before the start of football season. Frustrated by his lack of size during the past year, he decides to begin taking over-the-counter supplements. During the exam, he asks his pediatrician about the safety of the drugs he is taking. He also tells her that many of his teammates are taking the same supplements, and that one of his coaches has recommended them. The pediatrician reads the names of the products, leaves the room, and wonders how to proceed. As she thinks about how to best answer her patient, she recognizes that providing the correct information is essential. If she exaggerates the known complications, she risks losing his trust. If she encourages these products, she risks giving her patient harmful and dangerous advice" (Metzl, 2002, p.2). As the attitude of "winning at all costs" has come to light, more teens are looking for an edge up on the competition. Teens need to realize that to get to that next level, talent will get them there and not the use of performance enhancing drugs. Now as there are many people opposed to the topic of teens and adults taking performance enhancing drugs, there are many who say that taking them will provide a fair advantage.

Now taking performance enhancing drugs is wrong, and most of these drugs are banned from sports. In saying this, there are many people who think that taking these drugs will make sports fair. "There is a way to level the playing field: allow athletes to make up for their natural disadvantages by taking performance enhancing drugs" (LePage, 2006, p.2). When reading this statement it makes no sense. Why should it be allowed for someone to take drugs to make a sport fair, when there are athletes who have trained and worked hard all their life to get where they are? Doing that takes away any god-given talent anyone has because the person who takes these drugs will overshadow anyone else who has not taken drugs. That seems to be an unfair advantage. There are these so-called coaches, whether in high school to professional, who allow these athletes to consume these drugs and be content with it. That means they are condoning these types of actions, and should take as much blame for it as the athletes do. Other arguments include drugs that are safe should be permitted in sports, whatever their effect on performance may be. They say that sports authorities should focus on the health of athletes rather than their use of drugs. Seeing that the drugs are out there already, there should be a policy adopted to allow athletes to take drugs where it is safe for them and best for the sport. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but why would drugs be allowed into sports? If the talent is not there to excel in a particular sport, try another one. If an athlete does not excel in that one, then that athlete may not be cut out for sports.

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