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Performance-Enhancing Drugs In Sports

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Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Sports

There are many reasons athletes take performance-enhancing drugs. One might wonder though, why people would take them when there are so many more reasons why they should not. Performance-enhancing drugs are also referred to as anabolic steroids (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). "Anabolic steroids, also called steroids, 'roids, sauce or juice, are synthetic male hormones" (Steroids, Sports, and Athletic Performance, n.d.,). Taking performance-enhancing drugs affects not only the athlete, but all the younger generations that follow them, and want to be just like them.

There are two different types of steroids. One that is taken by mouth which is also known as "orals", and one that is injected which is known as "oils" or "waters" (Zaccardi, 2003). Orals are highly potent because they are released fairly rapidly (Zaccardi, 2003). Oils are considered long acting because they are released slowly, whereas waters are considered short acting because they are released more rapidly (Zaccardi, 2003).

When taking steroids, there are three different methods that athletes can use. Those three methods are cycling, stacking, and pyramiding. Cycling means that the user takes the steroids in cycles. They use them for 6 to 12 weeks then stop for 10 to 12 weeks (Zaccardi, 2003). Stacking means that the user takes more than one type of steroid at a time (Zaccardi, 2003). Pyramiding means that the user starts with a small dose then increases slowly (Zaccardi, 2003).

There are many physical side effects that the user can get from using any type of steroids. Some side effects affect both sexes. One of these is increased risk of cancer and liver disease (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). Another affect is decreased immune system effectiveness (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). They can also cause infertility and risk of cardiovascular disease (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005).

There are some physical side effects that effect only males, females or adolescents. A few of the side effects that effect only males are decreased testicular size, increased risk of prostate enlargement and cancer, and gynecomastia (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). Some of the side effects in females are increased risk of osteoporosis, irreversible deepening of voice, and irreversible increase in body hair (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). In adolescents steroids can stunt their growth by fusing the bones prematurely, and they are likely to injure themselves because they have overdeveloped muscles on an immature frame (Steroids, Sports, and Athletic Performance, n.d.).

Aside from the physical side effects, there are also psychological side effects that effect most people who use steroids. Some of the side effects are aggression or depression. One form of aggression that users tend to get is called 'roid rages, which includes psychotic behavior, hostility and irritability (Steroids, Sports, and Athletic Performance, n.d.). Zaccardi (2003) stated "feelings or irritability and aggression may appear so subtly that the athlete may barley notice, but his friends or family will". Sometimes users will get so depressed that they may have suicidal thoughts (Zaccardi, 2003). This usually occurs after the stoppage of steroids as part of the withdrawal symptoms. Other withdrawal symptoms could be loss of appetite, nausea, insomnia, and headaches (Zaccardi, 2003).

There are a few positive effects from steroids in athletes. Some of these include: Increased strength and effectiveness of training, increased leanness and muscle definition, and increase muscle mass and weight (Steroid Pros and Cons, 2005). There are some approved uses for anabolic steroids for medical reasons. The FDA has approved them to help with relief of bone pain in patients with osteoporosis, severe anemia, women with metastatic breast cancer, hormone deficiency in males, and hereditary angioedema (Zaccardi, 2003).

There are a few reasons that athletes take steroids. One reason is to increase the size of their muscles (Eight type of drug, n.d.). Along with muscle size, muscle strength is also increased (Eight type of drug, n.d.). Taking steroids also reduces the recovery time after exercise, so athletes can train longer and harder (Eight type of drug, n.d.). Another reason they take them is that they want to win and think they cannot without them (Freeman, 2004).

The major underlying factor [with steroid use] is that winning at all costs is the most important thing, says Diane Wiese-Bjornstal, associate professor in the School of Kinesiology. She says that athletes that use steroids often have the mindset that they are demonstrating that they are as highly committed to their sport as they can be and are doing whatever it takes to prove to themselves, their coaches, and to the world that they are true athletes who will do anything to win. (Freeman, 2004)

Many of the younger generation are affected by athletes using steroids. When these athletes use steroids, they do not think about all the children that look up to them. If they did, they might realize that when they see that the athletes are using steroids, they think that it is fine for them to use them. They do not always understand what can happen to them later when they use steroids. A good thing now is that if the younger generations see that now these athletes are being punished for using, that maybe they will think twice before they even try them.

As of today, all major league sports, including the Olympics have some type of drug testing policies. Each of these policies is different. Along with these policies are penalties that are levied when someone does not pass one of these tests. These policies and penalties differ by league. Some have had stiff penalties for a long time, while some are trying to make theirs better.

In Major League Baseball (MLB), they have been fighting to make a tougher steroid policy. For the 2005 season, they agreed to a new policy. With this new policy all players will be tested once sometime between spring training and the end of the regular season, with an option for additional random testing (MLB, Union Agree to New Plan, 2005). With these policies, if a player has a positive test, they will be penalized. The penalties are a 10 day suspension for the first offense, 30 days or the second offense, 60 days for the third offense, 1 year for the fourth offense, and the commissioner will get the final decision with a fifth offense (Steroid Testing Policy, 2005).

Since the end of the 2005 season, the players and owners have agreed on a new policy. This policy will probably not go into effect until the next collective bargaining agreement, since the current agreement is good through the end of the 2006 season



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