In the last decade many records have been broken in the world of athletics, is this do to harder training and work ethic or the ignorant testing of anabolic steroids. With technological advances the enhancement of athletes is at the fingertips of scientists. With one shot an athlete could up testosterone levels by over a hundred percent. Is this safe? Or is the real question is this fair to the athletes who years ago did not have this option. Researchers have examined such supplements as dinabol and nandrolene and have found that their structures are unstable maybe unnoticeable at the time but will definitely show up in the later future.
In the past five years the illegal industry has made an estimated hundred million dollars a year. (Getz p.2) The authorities have been trying to crack down on the availability of the drugs but have been unsuccessful. Drug testing though has effectively reduced the incidence of steroid use in some sports. Penalties of violations have also increased tremendously. “Drug testing is only effective as the sanctions that it carries, athletes must understand that it’s not worth risking a career by using steroids.”(Getz p.2) Not only are these actions being taken at the collegiate and professional level but at the High School level also. It appears that the newfound use of these drugs by professional athletes has acted as an excuse for younger athletes to use them. “We are role models whether we like it or not”, says Derek Jeter (shortstop for the New York Yankees).
The testing and disguising of these supplements should be the least worry of the athletes. The side effects are what stick out the most; symptoms such as premature baldness, aggressive behavior, and prostate enlargement in males are just a few. (Voy p.13) The enlargement of the prostate was how Dr. Ziegler determined that the Soviet athletes were using testosterone boosters in the 1950’s. (Voy p.13) There has been many different studies to try to create a steroid that an athlete could take to increase muscle mass, endurance, or speed without risking dangerous hormonal effects but it has turned out impossible. There will always be consequences and risks if one decides to take the easy route. In recent studies doctors and nutritionists have determined that along with the massive gains there is also a great loss of tissues in the joints, which leads to serious and more frequent injuries. (Deeter p.15) Nonetheless, athletes have used these drugs for over three decades. Dr. Allen Ryan, Dr. Daniel Hanley, and Dr. William Taylor, all former medical advisors to the USOC have spent years trying to warn the medical profession and the sports community of steroid abuse among athletes. (Voy p.16) In the 1976 Olympics a young body builder was in competition when he suffered a dislocated elbow and ruptured patellar tendon the result of mixing an anabolic and catabolic steroids. (Voy p.17)
Major League Baseball has also been a host of introducing two newer supplements: creatine and androstenedione. These questionable drugs were key components of the 1998 season. Mark McGuire and other baseball superstars were involved in a battle for the homerun record, which had been held for thirty-eight years by Yankee Hall of Famer Roger Maris. McGuire ended up winning the homerun title with an unbelievable seventy home runs nine more than the record. No one among the owners, union or commissioner’s office wanted to tarnish McGuire’s record by initiating a drug test to ban androstenedione and other testosterone boosters. (Associated Press p.1) “It’s legal” McGuire said, “Major league baseball is not the IOC. It had absolutely nothing to do with me hitting the baseball. It had something to do with getting through the workouts during this season when you’re worn down as an athlete.” “A substance that can make an athlete recover from the weight room workouts and contribute to his strength and fitness is alluring”, says athlete Gab Kapler. Whether right or wrong the athletes who use anabolic steroids have an argumentative point, the fastest and strongest will prevail so who would turn down a substance that could turn them into a super athlete. Athletes are at least vulnerable as the rest of society; outstanding athletes may suffer a particular vulnerability. In an effort to excel competitively, often beginning in his or her teens, the skilled athlete is often subject to unusual degrees of stress-both internal and external. (Wadler p.14) For many, steroid abuse has been a method of trying to lessen that stress.
Many communities are trying to work fast to stop the addiction before it goes to far they are having meetings with parents and even little league coaches to talk about how to play in a non stressful environment. Many actions have been taken; police athletic leagues have been put together and also some high school programs such as the ATLAS program. It stands for “ The Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids”. It was started to monitor high school athletics but has moved to watch all aspects of high school. In ATLAS’s classroom component, football coaches and student leaders conduct seven highly interactive sessions that explore the effects of steroids, the elements of sports nutrition, and strength training alternatives to steroid use. (Mathias p.2) “The ATLAS program is totally voluntary and high students don’t receive any credit, so it better be entertaining”. The prevention class gives student athletes the knowledge and skills to resist steroid use and achieve their athletic goals in more effective, healthier ways. (Mathias p.4) It might be too late for the athletes who have already let there guards down to the world of drugs but for those who are coming up in the athletic system are not alone. Steroids are an alternative but not a safe one. Many over the counter drugs are not even safe anymore, the younger athletes have to watch their step and make sure they don’t fall into the trap of advertisement. Remember if something sounds to good to be true it usually is!