Have you ever looked at a professional athlete and wondered how they could possibly have such defined muscles in their arms, legs, and even their abdominal region. While I am watching any kind of professional bicycling event I wonder how these men and women could possibly have the endurance to bike for such a long time. Some of these athletes have a dark secret. The use of banned performance-enhancing drugs (PED) in sports, also referred to as doping, is on the rise not only in the professional sport world, but even with young and unsupervised athletes.
Doping has become a problem since at least the 1960s according to Michael Shermer, journalist for the Huffington Post. Like most sport fans, I do not want to believe that any of my favorite athletes are guilty of participating in any kind of illegal activity, like doping. Of course everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but the immense amount of evidence that is being collected leads me to conclude that many, perhaps most, professional athletes are doping. So why do athletes dope? It is simple, the drugs are working and showing instant progress, the battle between drug takers and drug testers is steadily won by the dopers, and the athletes who might get caught are not receiving punishments at a sufficient level. The Drugs.
There are over 190 banned performance-enhancing drugs that are illegal for athletes to take. The five most common are: steroids, human growth hormones, anabolic, stimulants, and some supplements. Steroids are the most common PEDs in the professional athlete world. They are artificial hormones that can improve muscle mass and strength. Steroids can be taken an injection, a pill, or even powder.
Human growth hormones (HGH) are taken to enhance endurance and strength. Like steroids, human growth hormones are administrated by an injection. However, HGH is available by prescription only. Anabolic are a type of synthetic steroid that stimulate proteins that help build non-fat muscle mass. Anabolic steroids are designed to help an athlete become physically stronger and help them train and perform for a longer time span. Stimulants aid in boosting an athlete’s energy level. Amphetamines are types of stimulants and these include items like caffeine, Ritalin, and most energy drinks.
Supplements are used to increase endurance, build muscle, gain or lose weight, and rehydration. Supplements can be taken as a powder, tablet, pill, or liquid. According to Scientific American using these illegal performance-enhancing drugs can boost an athletes performance a minimum of 5% to 10%. Adding human growth hormones with other PEDs can squeeze an additional 5% out of the human body. In events decided by less than one percent differences, this is enormous. The Battle. There will always be a dispute between drug takers and drug testers in the field of sports.
It will always be a game of cat and mouse between the two. This is why in my opinion the drug testers will always be behind. It takes a long time to develop tests for new drugs. There is no test for human growth hormones and the test for r-EPO, an anabolic steroid, is not full proof and can not always be detected. Another way athletes are winning the battle is by coming up with new ways every day to cover up the drugs they are consuming. They are getting creative and using masking agents or using the process of blood thinning to disguise the PEDs being taken.
Drinking large amounts of water can dilute a urine sample enough so that it is not possible to detect any signs of doping. The drug takers have more of a financial motivation to stay ahead of the testers. Pro-athletes know that if they are performing at the top of the game they can receive bonuses at the end of the year. Pro-baseball players that play for the MLB have an additional helping hand in the matter. They have a powerful union on their side that protects them from too much disturbance on the part of drug testers. Every athlete wants his or her team to be successful and because of this competitive drive a code of silence has become normal on most teams. Many athletes act like they do not see anything and certainly tell no one about the intake of any performance-enhancing drugs that one, or many, of the teammates are taking.
This code of silence must be broke if athletes are to stop doping and the cycle is to be broken. The Punishments. Some people see using PEDs as a good thing and think it is a natural development in the sports field. So if most competitors are using them, then why not just go ahead and make the drugs legal? It is plain and simple: it is cheating. In school, students have been taught that cheating is not allowed and consequences will follow if cheating is detected or proven. Many athletes have grown up in a bubble with everyone around them giving them whatever they want or need.
Athletes need to realize they are not above anyone else and that there are negative repercussions for their actions. These consequences are not only personal, but affect the entire sports world also. Repercussions for doping include suspensions, fines, expulsions, health problems, and worst of all in my opinion, setting a bad example for young people who idolize these synthetically, bulked up men and women. The repercussions are rarely a deterrent. There are punishments in place right now for athletes who dope, but they need to be more severe. Only in the most recent year has the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) come up with more harsh and strict sanctions for the athletes who dope. Lance Armstrong is one of the first to experience these consequences first hand.
After confessing to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong is prohibited from ever competing in any race ever again and was stripped of all of his medals and titles that he had won. More athletes need to be made an example out of like Armstrong was. Of course, illegal dopers must be caught in order to be punished. Every argument has two sides to it. Some sports fans believe that taking performance-enhancing drugs is acceptable for athletes to do.
They see the situation as a more competitive one, in-turn making the sporting event more enjoyable to watch. However, these people do not think about the health risk that the athletes are going through when they are doping. Some of the health risks include severe acne, high blood pressure, heart and circulatory problems, aggressive behaviors, depression, and even HIV if they are injecting the drugs.
These are just a few of the minor health risks that come from doping. Some of the more severe cases an athlete can have are problems like inhabited growth and development, major psychiatric disorders, and drug dependency. Why would any athlete, or anyone for that matter, want to go through this? The goal of most sports competitors is to be the best, which equates to physical domination.
There are thousands who feel doping is the only way to achieve this goal. I wish they would realize the doping choice can not only affect the way people view sports, but can ruin their lives due to the repercussions and possible punishments if caught. Unfortunately, athletes will continue to dope as long as the drugs are working and show instant progress, they keep figuring out way to outsmart the drug testers, and there are no severe punishments for their actions.