letesIssues of cheating or winning at any cost, are becoming more and more common among athletes of all ages and levels of ability. The use of steroids is one of the biggest issues in the current debate weather or not it is fair for drug-free athletes to have to compete with athletes that break the law and take illegal steroids. Allowing those with an unfair advantage to compete can pressure drug-free athletes to use anabolic steroids to remain competitive. In fact, some legal analysts have viewed this issue as a reason for an Anabolic Steroid Control Act, but does the Anabolic Steroid Control Act work? Whether providing criminal penalties for illegal steroid use is the proper and most effective way of dealing with the “steroid problem” has been debated for quite some time, but the Control Act has been found to deter trafficking, protects young people, and preserves fair competition in sports.
The following exert is from an editorial by M.G. Di Pasquale concerning drugs and sports. “Contrary to what most people believe (the media’s irresponsible sensationalism has resulted in the widely held mistaken view that the use by athletes of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs is a problem on par with heroin and cocaine abuse), the use of drugs, such as anabolic steroids, by athletes is a problem, not because of the addictive and dangerous side-effects of these compounds, but because these drugs offer an unfair advantage to the athletes who don’t use them.”
Anabolic steroids were developed in Europe around 1930 to treat undernourished and healing patients after surgery. Anabolic steroids are a drug containing hormones which can be used to increase strength and promote muscle growth. Competitive weightlifters began using these steroids around the 1950s as a way to increase their athletic performance and gain an upper hand on the rest of their competitors. After its initial use in bodybuilding the drug spread like wildfire thought the rest of the sports world, ranging from sports in high school to professional athletes in the Olympic Games.
The use of anabolic steroids has been on the rise in the last ten years. It has been estimated that at least 1 in 15 male, high school sports athletes have used steroids, which means more than a half-million high school athletes have used steroids. On the web site, www.steroidabuse.org, an article states “There has been recent evidence suggesting that steroid abuse among adolescents is on the rise. A “NIDA” funded survey of drug abuse among adolescents in middle and high schools across the United States, estimated that 2.7 percent of 8th- and 10th-graders and 2.9 percent of 12th-graders had taken anabolic steroids at least once in their lives.” Steroids usually seem desirable at first, but there are serious side effects which accompany the very “desirable” effect of steroids. Excessive use may cause an imbalance in the users normal hormonal balance and body chemistry. Some of the many side affects are, but not limited to, heart attacks, water retention: which can lead to high blood pressure and stroke, and some liver and kidney tumors are also possible. But just as serious are the psychological effects of abusing steroids, they can include drastic mood swings, inability to sleep, and feelings of hostility. Steroids can also be physiologically addictive, and when started, users: particularly athletes, enjoy the physical benefits of increased size, strength, and endurance, some so much that they are reluctant to stop even when told about the risks.
The Control Act has been of extremely lax in addressing the problem of elite athletes, who are almost never prosecuted under the Control Act. Although the remote possibility of criminal prosecution deters few if any Olympic and professional level athletes. Still the most effective way to remove anabolic steroids from competitive sports is through systematic drug testing. Athletes who fail the steroid test will be prohibited from competing. While testing for anabolic steroids is not perfect, it does remove, or at least identified steroid-users in their sports and also serves as the most effective deterrent to date. Serious athletes devote huge amounts of time, energy and resources into training for an event. The effect of drug testing for preventing steroid using athletes from competing, is both a more effective and more appropriate deterrent than the Control Act’s threat of making overly ambitious athletes into convicted felons.
A better solution to the problem is sorely needed and clearly the two greatest dangers in the use of anabolic steroids today are the use of tainted black market substances and there failure to be medically monitored and supervised. Anabolic steroids would also need to be restricted to non-competing adults, and non-physicians caught trafficking in steroids, especially selling steroids to minors, would be subjected to stiff criminal actions.
There are obvious political hurdles standing in the way of all solutions, but Congress and law enforcement authorities would have to accept that fact some adults, who are not competitive athletes, would in theory, be legally able to use anabolic steroids for “cosmetic and physique enhancement” under the supervision of a qualified physician. However with the current trend of unsupervised and self-administered steroids, and the use of potentially dangerous black market products, the “steroid problem” and their use by athletes is only going to become infinitely worse.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D. 14 April. 2000. Director
National Institute on Drug Abuse. ;http://www.steroidabuse.org;
“Why Athletes Use Drugs.” Editorial. Drugs in Sports Feb. 1992, (Vol. 1, Number 1.) M.G. Di