Performance Enhancing Drugs are a big temptation in any athlete’s life. Are performance enhancers as bad as they are made out to be? Melissa Winkller, and author of the Vegetarian Times in New York states, “Sport supplements are at best a waste of time.” Agree or not, the history and facts of performance enhancers will tell you what these drugs can do to your body; the good, the bad and the ugly. Ant decision a person makes that warrants putting a substance into their bodies can destroy not only your reputation, but your life as well.
Performance enhancers have been a major part of any athlete’s life since the early Greek times. The first recorded attempt for athletes to increase their performance was during the 8th century BC Greek Olympics. During that time, it was documented that Greek Olympians ate sheep testicles. This act gave athletes a boost in energy to compete. Later, scientists have said that this strange feast was a good source for a testosterone boost in early Olympic Games.
In 1904 Thomas Hicks won the marathon at the St. Louis Olympics and collapsed at the finish of the race. It was later found that they had mixed brandy with Strychnine to get his gold medal.
Hicks and supporters at the 1904 Summer Olympics.
The first recorded fatality of enhancers was in 1967. Tom Simpson died during the Tour de France. During the doctor’s examination of the athlete, 2 tubes of amphetamines were found in the rear pocket of his racing jersey.
1967: Tom Simpson
The 1988 Olympics marked the first time an athlete was stripped of his gold medal. This occurred when sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive for anabolic steroids.
His gold medal was given to silver medal winner Carl Lewis who, ironically, was later found to also using enhancers during his Olympic career.
Perhaps the most significant downfall of American athletes occurred in July of 2005 when the California’s Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative pleaded guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering. The list of athletes on the Co-Operative was even more damning than the guilty plea. These athletes included Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and several members of the Oakland Raiders.
There are many different performance enhancers that are taken for various reasons by athletes. Here are just a few examples:
- Stimulants (such as caffeine, amphetamines, and cocaine).
- Building muscle and bone (Anabolic steroids, Beta-2 Agonists, and Insulin).
- Relaxants (Alcohol, Beta Blockers, and Cannabinoids)
- Reduce weight (Diuretics).
- Increase oxygen delivery (Epo, Blood Doping, and artificial oxygen carriers).
- To mask pain (Narcotics, ACTH, Cortisone, and local anaesthetics).
- To mask drug use (Diuretics, Epitestosterone, Plasma Expanders, and Secretion Inhibitors).
With everything that these different substances can do for an athlete, the overall objective is to increase one’s physical performance. Along the same lines, the overall result is deadly.
Performance enhancers give you wonderful looking ads, lean legs, and tough muscles. Your outward appearance may impress you in the mirror; but the internal battle isn’t seen or felt until it is too late.
Women who choose to take steroids/performance enhancers are in for a big change when it comes to their appearance. Immediate results may be rewarding, but later most women will begin to grow facial hair. The voice begins to deepen. Other symptoms include breast reduction and a significant change in the menstrual cycle.
Men will become visibly stronger; but really become less of a man when his sperm count is greatly reduced. They will also develop breasts, testicles will shrink, and impotence may occur along with pain while urinating. Trying so hard to look tough takes away a significant amount of dignity of being a man.
There are some common symptoms between both sexes. Those that choose to take steroids orally or injected also suffer with symptoms that affect your appearance such as acne, bloated appearance, rapid weight gain, and clotting disorders. Generally, such a rapid change to the body causes strokes and heart attacks. Another serious concern for intravenous drug abuse is the possibility of getting HIV/AIDS.
These are very unfortunate results that people will risk having in order to get the ultimate body. However, beauty is only skin deep, in which the users are destroying every time a new substance is introduced to make them the “great athlete”. The more research I have done, the more revolting the evidence gets. The more serious side effects are kidney failure, liver failure, depression, aggression (sometimes referred to as “roid rage”), pathological manic state, and paranoia. Recent evidence suggests that long time users and steroid abusers may experience the characteristics of addiction; which makes the cravings difficult to stop the use of steroids. Most have to deal with withdrawal symptoms like a heroin addict.
After all these damaged effects, who would be stupid enough to use these enhancers? According to espn.go.com, the hormones anabolic steroids effect help the body retain dietary protein, which helps the development of muscles as well as forming a muscular body in less time. So, in other words, a quick fix for someone that does not have patience to let their body “enhance” naturally.
You can naturally get quick results depending on your metabolism, along with a healthy thirty minute workout each day and eating sensibly. Having a sensible diet (such as eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats like chicken or fish) and a steady exercise schedule can enhance your body naturally; without the risks of possibly losing your life. Throughout my research, I have noticed how simple it is to purchase steroids on the internet. Sites only ask for your name, age (but no verification), and credit card information. Most of the sellers have it set up like a pizza delivery service; you pay cash or credit at the door, sit down, and enjoy.
The people that stand to lose the most in this dark world are young athletes. All children have their heroes; and most look up to a certain sports star. Whether an adolescent wants to be a wrestler, football or baseball player; they have to work hard to meet up to a professional standard of the sport they choose. Most adolescents do not know the side effects; nor do some care. Again, it’s a quick fix to be the best. What child ever thinks about the consequences of their actions (then again, what adult does either
)? Adolescents are most at risk with the aftermath of using enhancers since they are still developing physically. They are at risk for all the same as symptoms as an adult abuser; but can also stunt their growth, loose bone mass, and develop severe cases of acne.
Nancy Clark M.S.R.D., author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, believes it is “simply not wise to take steroids/performance enhancers”. We definitely need to wise up before it is too late. My opinion is that people who take performance enhancers are a bunch of lazy people who would rather sit on the couch than be in the gym for the forty-five or thirty minute workout each day, and that is the only way you will get your body in shape along with keeping your body healthy.
Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005, but was stripped of those victories in 2012 after a protracted doping scandal.
I cannot seem to understand why athletes (or anyone for that matter) would take any kind of drug without medical advice (and some doctors with questionable morals do give out) or take any drug with so many hazardous side effects. There are reasons why people do what they do, but after researching performance enhancing drugs, I would not think of any reason to use such a drug with so many ill side effects; all pointing to six feet under. The quick gain and cheating may give an athlete their immediate goals to be great; but the side effects will definitely back track you later in life. But more importantly, how much satisfaction can you enjoy by cheating when you’re dead?