Table of Contents
Performance-Enhancing Drugs: An Overview
Craig Freudenrich is a biomedical researcher and a senior editor of science, medicine, and the human body for the website HowStuffWorks.com.
Source: Many athletes have turned to performance-enhancing drugs to gain a competitive advantage. Performance-enhancing drugs include anabolic steroids for building mass and strength, and protein hormones that increase the amount of oxygen in body tissues, which boosts athletic endurance. Most of these drugs have unpleasant and/or dangerous side effects and have been banned by the International Olympic Committee and other governing athletic agencies. Urine and blood tests are conducted to keep drug users out of athletic competitions, but “masking drugs” are often taken to hide the presence of illegal substances, making detection difficult.
Every two years as the Olympic Games begin, we hear about athletes using or, at least, being tested for performance-enhancing drugs. Sometimes, competitors raise the question when one athlete does particularly well. Other times, tests catch athletes with drugs in their systems. The practice of using artificial substances or methods to enhance athletic performance is called doping. Doping has become such a great concern that the United States formed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in October 2000.
This viewpoint discusses why some athletes take drugs, what the major classes of drugs and their side effects...
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Athletes Will Never Stop Using Performance- Enhancing Drugs
Matt Barnard writes for the New Statesman, a news magazine.
Source: The moral crusade against the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is being waged by international athletic associations and their corporate sponsors, who publicly maintain that drugs violate the moral borders of clean athletic competition. However, in their quest for fans and profits, these organizations covertly encourage drug use by demanding ever higher standards of achievement from athletes, only to condemn the few athletes who get caught. Fans, on the other hand, have demonstrated a willingness to support drug-aided athletes like major league baseball player Mark McGwire, who broke the home run record in 1998 while admitting steroid use. It is time to recognize that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is here to stay and that elite athletes will go to extreme lengths to succeed.
Florence Griffith Joyner (“Flo-Jo”) died, aged 38, from heart seizure in September 1998. Even before her untimely death, the shadow of suspicion hung over her glorious two gold medals and one silver at the Seoul Olympics in 1988: with her muscular form and husky voice typical of steroid users, and with her retirement announced abruptly in 1989, when mandatory random testing for drugs was introduced, there were whispers that Flo-Jo had used performance-enhancing drugs.
Spotlighting the debate
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Athletes Must Stop Using Performance- Enhancing Drugs
Merrell Noden is a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated and the author of Home Run Heroes: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and a Season for the Ages.
Source: The sport of track and field has been tarnished by the use of performance-enhancing drugs among its leading competitors. Each new world record raises suspicions that the record-breaker was using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. To reduce the temptation among athletes to use drugs and foster more realistic expectations from fans, competition should be emphasized over record-breaking as the measure of an exciting track meet. Reliable drug testing must also be put into effect to further deter athletes from using drugs.
I don’t remember when I first heard about steroids. Probably it was around 1972, when they were first banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and I was on the track team in high school. If there was a debate about steroids in the papers, I didn’t pay much attention to it, mostly, I suspect, because I didn’t think they bore relevance to my life as an athlete. I considered them the province of weightlifters, shot-putters, football players and other “big” athletes—not skinny distance runners like me.
This I do remember: I passed the summer of 1981 in a state of giddy transport, and from that I conclude that I cannot have known much about steroids yet. That was the summer Steve Ovett...
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Performance-Enhancing Drugs Tarnish Athletics
The European Commission is the executive body responsible for implementing the legislation adopted by the Parliament and Council of the European Union. The commission enforces the European Union’s policy banning performance-enhancing drugs from athletic competition.
Source: “Doping” is the illegal misuse of drugs by athletes to enhance performance when training or participating in a sporting event. While athletes have used plants and other substances to artificially enhance performance throughout history, dangerous doping methods are now commonplace. Some athletes view doping as the only way to keep up with the fierce demands of athletic competition. In addition to jeopardizing public health, doping is at odds with the principle that athletes should work without artificial resources to achieve success. Education and prevention campaigns must be undertaken to stamp out doping.
What does doping really mean? One way of finding out is to look in the dictionary, where it tells you that it comes from a Dutch word “doop” meaning a thick liquid or sauce, a reminder that it originally referred to a South African drink. In days gone by, “dope” was something you drank to help you work hard, if only for a short space of time. So, in English, “to dope” means to administer a drug, specifically as a stimulant.
Artificially enhancing performance
An official definition of...
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The Ban on Performance-Enhancing Drugs Should Continue
The Economist is a weekly magazine covering economic and world events from around the world.
Source: The use of performance-enhancing drugs is widespread in Olympic sporting events like track and field and swimming. While testing procedures to catch drug cheats have become more precise and intrusive, athletes have grown more skilled at beating the tests with help from savvy medical advisers. Skeptics maintain that drug testing in sports is an exercise in futility. They contend that performance-enhancing drugs are just another way of gaining an advantage in an inherently unfair activity. In addition, they argue that such drugs should be legalized and officially regulated. However, legalizing the use of performance-enhancing drugs would turn athletes into guinea pigs and send the wrong message to impressionable children.
It was a flash of sporting brilliance. The muscle-bound, shaven-headed sprinter, born in Jamaica but wearing the colours of Canada, rose explosively from the starting blocks; 100 metres and 9.79 seconds later he raised his index finger in arrogant triumph. Ben Johnson, competing at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, had become the world’s fastest man.
Within hours he had also become, for many, its most reviled. Mr Johnson, the doctors reported, had failed a drugs test. As he slunk from the Olympic village in disgrace, the second-placed Carl Lewis, from America, stepped forward...
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Teen Steroid Abuse Is a Growing Problem
Steven Ungerleider is a clinical psychologist and an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon. He regularly consults with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Source: In response to social and athletic pressures to build greater strength and muscle, middle school and high school students are increasingly taking anabolic steroids. Steroids allow young athletes to train harder and recover more quickly from long workouts, but they pose numerous health risks to users. Side effects may include heart and liver damage and the premature cessation of bone growth in adolescents, which leads to shortened stature. More research is needed to address the dangerous consequences of adolescent steroid use.
In 1995, in a well-known research project, elite athletes were asked whether they would take a pill that guaranteed an Olympic gold medal if they knew it would kill them within a year. More than half of the athletes said they would take the pill.
The need to win at all costs has permeated many areas of our lives. In sports, one of the forms it takes is the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). “Anabolic” refers to constructive metabolism or muscle-building, and “androgenic” means masculinizing. All AAS are derived from the hormone testosterone, which is found primarily in men, although women also produce it in smaller concentrations. There are at least thirty AAS, some natural and some...
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Performance-Enhancing Drugs Compromise Medical Ethics
Philippe Liotard is a professor at the Sports Faculty of the University of Monpellier, France, and the cofounder of Quasimodo magazine.
Source: Medical ethics are being challenged by the demand for treatments intended to enhance a person’s physical appearance and social performance, such as anti-aging treatments and cosmetic surgery, which are not directly related to the goal of good health. Doctors involved in sport medicine now find themselves at the center of this ethical dilemma. They face enormous pressure to go beyond merely treating an athlete’s fatigue and pain to prescribing performance-enhancing drugs. However, doctors should not reinforce society’s emphasis on performance at all costs by prescribing drugs that mask pain and illness and put an athlete’s health in jeopardy.
On the eve of the Sydney Olympic Games [fall 2000], sport medicine is faced with ethical dilemmas that stretch well beyond the domain of top-level competition.
Advances in life sciences and biotechnology are stirring up a broad debate about ethics. Expert committees are being called upon to bring ethical codes in line with genetic research developments, assisted reproduction, prenatal screening and the prospects for human cloning.
Standards for clinical research on humans, spelt out in the 1947 Nuremberg Rules [following World War II], are now being challenged by medical advances and...
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Performance-Enhancing Drugs Should Be Regulated, Not Prohibited
Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine.
Source: Performance-enhancing drugs allow athletes to train harder and improve their athletic performance over a short period of time. Many of today’s athletes take the drugs willingly and have grown increasingly uncertain about what is wrong with doing so. Drug testing by sports authorities is unreliable, and athletes are constantly taking new drugs for which no test has been devised. The attempt to ban certain drugs gives an advantage to those athletes with the means to take newer drugs. Instead of prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs, testing authorities should set acceptable limits for drug use. Regulating aggressive drug use will restore parity to sports, ensuring that no athlete can cheat more than another.
At the age of twelve, Christiane Knacke-Sommer was plucked from a small town in Saxony to train with the élite SC Dynamo swim club, in East Berlin. After two years of steady progress, she was given regular injections and daily doses of small baby-blue pills, which she was required to take in the presence of a trainer. Within weeks, her arms and shoulders began to thicken. She developed severe acne. Her pubic hair began to spread over her abdomen. Her libido soared out of control. Her voice turned gruff. And her performance in the pool began to improve dramatically, culminating in a bronze medal in the hundred-metre...
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Ban Athletes Who Don’t Use Steroids
Sidney Gendin is the author of More Steroids, Please, and is a retired professor of philosophy from Eastern Michigan University.
Source: Governments and sports federations are wrong for continuing to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids. Steroids are less hazardous to human health than smoking or drinking, and society has traditionally permitted people to engage in risky activities, such as mountain climbing, when the danger posed only affects the individual involved. In addition, ineffective and more costly dietary supplements, which falsely claim to work just like steroids, are legal. Steroid use by athletes should not be considered unnatural or cheating—the drugs simply allow athletes to perform at their very best.
Isn’t it time for the brainwashed public to know the truth about steroids? In their ideological zeal to ban “performance enhancing” drugs, national governments and the various local and international sports federations have ignorantly and self-righteously declared that steroid use is cheating, dangerous, and stupid. In fact, in general, it is neither dangerous nor stupid and it is cheating only because it has been capriciously commanded to be so.
Steroid dangers are minimal
In the first place, with respect to the alleged danger, people ought to know that there are dozens of steroids and it would be absurd to imagine that their...
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Coming Soon: Open Olympics!
Oliver Morton is a freelance writer and a contributing editor at Wired and Newsweek International.
Source: The use of performance-enhancing drugs should be permitted in an Open Olympics that would take place alongside a separate Olympics in which drug use is prohibited. Instead of feeling compelled to take drugs in order to compete effectively, athletes would have a real choice as to whether or not they will remain drug-free. This parallel system would also offer greater protection to the health and well-being of those athletes who decide to use drugs, since they could openly seek the advice of health professionals. Using drugs to boost performance is just another manifestation of the way people have blurred the boundary between the human and the technological.
The Tour de France has a glorious history—think of Eddy Merckx’s winning all three jerseys in 1969, Louison Bobet’s heyday in the 1950s, the epic 1910 battle between Francois Faber and Octave Lapize. But as this year’s prologue gets underway at Puy du Fou on July 3, there will be just one previous race on most people’s minds—last year’s, when the discovery of systematic doping in the top-ranking Festina team and elsewhere plunged the event into chaos. There were arrests, expulsions and go-slows [protests staged by riders] (a case of Festina exeunt, omnes lentes); only 88 of 189 competitors completed the competition.
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The Health Risks of Steroid Use Have Been Exaggerated
Rick Collins is a bodybuilder and criminal defense attorney in New York state who has defended dozens of clients involved with the use and sale of anabolic steroid products.
Source: The medical establishment’s characterization of steroids as dangerous is a scare tactic promulgated to preserve the “purity” of athletic competition. Past studies concluding that steroids are ineffective at promoting muscle growth and cause irreversible side effects are not credible and were based on faulty methodology. While there are health risks associated with steroid use, particularly for women and adolescents, recent research indicates that adverse side effects, such as liver damage and psychiatric problems, have been highly overstated. Forty years of steroid use by athletes provides no evidence of a serious health crisis or epidemic of steroid-related deaths. Congress should reconsider its ban on the non-medical use of steroids by athletes.
While the primary objective of Congress in classifying anabolic steroids as controlled substances (and criminalizing their use) was probably to solve the pharmacologic “cheating” problem in competition sports, the reported health risks associated with these “deadly drugs” provided a seemingly valid basis for the legislation. The reportedly devastating health hazards were used to justify a policy favoring imprisonment of athletes involved with steroids over...
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One Strike, You’re Out
Mark Starr is a sports columnist for Newsweek magazine.
Source: Olympic officials have begun to take the widespread abuse of performance-enhancing drugs by Olympic athletes seriously. The crackdown comes in response to fears that fans and sponsors will no longer support the Olympics if drug scandals become a regular feature of the Games. Newly established anti-doping agencies have increased the investment in drug tests designed to keep pace with drug cheats, who continually use new drugs and masking agents to beat the tests. A successful program of random drug testing was also introduced prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, leaving drug-using athletes with less opportunity to render their drug intake undetectable before competitions.
Ludmila Engquist dreamed of making Olympic history by becoming the first woman ever to win gold medals at both the summer and winter games. Engquist, a Russian-born Swede, had won the 100-meter hurdles in Atlanta in 1996. Now she was taking aim at gold again, this time around in the inaugural women’s bobsled competition at the Salt Lake City Olympics next February.
But this week Engquist made history a bit prematurely—and not in glory on the Olympic–medal podium, but rather in sad, even tragic, fashion. She became the first Olympic athlete, man or woman, who has ever been caught using illegal drugs in two different sports.
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Performance-Enhancing Drug Testing Is Ineffective
The author was intimately involved in drug testing for a variety of sports.
Source: The International Olympic Committee and other sports organizations use ineffective performance-enhancing drug testing techniques and remain insincere about catching drug-using athletes. Claims that drug use is declining as a result of tougher testing, as evidenced by the low number of positive drug test results, are false, since there are many methods that athletes can employ to beat drug tests. In addition, athletes with access to money and support personnel stand a better chance of passing the tests than athletes who lack such resources, making the drug testing system unfair.
If I told you I was committed to an effort and was going to spend one million dollars of my money on a project, wouldn’t that seem like a sincere effort? Now let’s say you find out from a reliable source that the one million dollars represents mere pennies to me because I have tons of money. Then you find out that the project I was supposedly committed to is last on my funding list as far as financial commitment. Does it still seem like a high priority? This is the case with drug testing. In general, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other organizations talk a good game, but in reality, they are not sincere in their drug testing efforts. The historical evidence shows a repeating sequence of events since the implementation of...
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Performance-Enhancing Dietary Supplements Are Dangerous
Gwen Knapp is a sports journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Source: Athletes are using dietary supplements purchased from health-food stores to boost their athletic performance. Many of these products are advertised as having the same effects on muscle development as prescription-only performance-enhancing drugs, and studies have shown that some supplements convert to illicit steroids once ingested. Supplement use has been linked to the deaths of several athletes, who exceeded the recommended dosages or mixed their intake of supplements with other medications. Because the supplement industry is virtually unregulated due to a 1994 law passed by Congress, consumers should use caution when purchasing performanceenhancing dietary supplements.
Open up the liquor cabinets. Turn over the car keys. And—what the heck?—hand out cigarettes for Halloween.
No age limits on supplement sales
If an 11-year-old tennis player can walk into an alleged health-food store and legally purchase something called Ripped Fuel, which often comes in canisters showing a man’s torso covered with bulging ribbons of muscle, then why not let her light up?
If a youth-baseball coach can distribute androstenedione, famed as [Major League Baseball player] Mark McGwire’s hinky alternative to Wheaties, without a word of dissent from the police, why not let the kids unwind with a cold...
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Performance-Enhancing Dietary Supplements Are Safe
The Council for Responsible Nutrition is a trade association representing the dietary supplement industry.
Source: Performance-enhancing dietary supplements like creatine and ephedra are safe when used by healthy people within the recommended dosage limits. Media assertions that supplements are unregulated as a result of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act are false—the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate supplements in the same way that it regulates any other food product. The FDA should exercise its regulatory authority constructively to increase consumer confidence in dietary supplements.
It is human nature to seek an “edge” to support and improve performance, and sports supplements are one tool millions of people have found helpful. As with all efforts to improve health and increase performance, common sense needs to be applied. Performance-enhancing products should not be promoted to children, and parents and coaches bear a responsibility for monitoring and guiding children’s behavior in this respect. The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) believes responsible regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by the states is needed to support consumer confidence in dietary supplements, including sports nutrition products. FDA has the necessary authority, and needs only to exercise it constructively.
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Genetic Engineering May One Day Replace Performance- Enhancing Drugs
Jere Longman is a sportswriter for the New York Times.
Source: Sports authorities are concerned that athletes may begin to employ genetic engineering techniques to enhance their athletic performance. Although gene therapy is still at an early stage of development, athletes looking for a competitive edge may not wait for science to perfect safe applications. A single insertion of genetic material could potentially bulk up muscles for years at a time, precluding the need to take continual cycles of performanceenhancing drugs. Testing athletes for altered genes would also be difficult and require invasive detection methods. Gene therapy is adding to the ethical debate over whether athletes should be allowed to alter their fundamental makeup to become more competitive.
For three decades, the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) has been engaged in a game of chemical cat-and-mouse. Athletes use drugs to enhance their performances, scientists devise tests to identify those drugs, then the athletes move on to more sophisticated doping techniques. Now, the rules of the game may be changing, leaving the Olympic committee even further behind.
Gene therapy and athletes
Concerned that athletes would soon employ genetic engineering in attempting to run faster, to jump higher and to throw farther, the I.O.C. and the affiliated World Anti-Doping Agency are about to convene inaugural...
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