Use of anabolic steroidsPresent a reasoned, personal commentary on the ethical issues underlying the use of anabolic steroids, with special reference to implications of use at all levels of sports...

Use of anabolic steroids

Present a reasoned, personal commentary on the ethical issues underlying the use of anabolic steroids, with special reference to implications of use at all levels of sports competition.

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two major ethical concerns in using anabolic steroids for purposes other than health issues that are particularly relevant to the question of their use in sports. The first is that it is unethical to tamper with your body and alter its chemical balance and nature thereby causing significant and potentially dangerous changes for a reason sort of control of debilitating or potential fatal medial conditions. Examples of appropriate risk are corticosteroids for arthritis and insulin for diabetes. The other is that anabolic steroids are used in sports so the athlete can become a super-athlete who can perform at otherwise unattainable levels (motivated often by money and fame). Such athletes have a newly gained advantage over other athletes that is an unfair advantage. Both od these scenarios represent unethical behavior and choices.

In addition, the first might well be applied to post-World War II industry that has introduced plasticizers, volatile organic compounds (VOC,) pervasive organic compounds (POPs) and other chemical toxins into our food, homes, offices, clothes, and cars--with FDA and other Federal approvals--that are altering the chemical balances and genetic structure of our bodies as we accumulate chemical body burdens and suffer androgenization of our infants. These equally represent unethical series of choices and actions.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think sports are beneficial to staying physically fit, and to teach a healthy level of competition and sportsmanship. But, when sports becomes an obsession to the point that we have to tamper with our bodies to attain certain levels of performance, they are no longer beneficial. Why would anyone want to risk their overall health for just a few years of glory now?

I really don't think using steroids is moral or ethical!  It gives the user an unfair advantage over other athletes who choose not to use them.  Athletes should play sports based upon their own physical strength, endurance, and build. If they're not as strong as they would like, then eat better, run farther and faster, and work out more!

justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point made by some is totally inappropriate:

Anything unnatural to the body's normal way of functioning is NOT good for it!... insulin for diabetes, heart pacemakers and drugs to keep the heart beating, etc.

As a diabetic for a last 20 years on a strict regime of insulin I would have passed away a long time back if I held the views. Given the views expressed we ought to get back to our hunter gatherer lifestyles that only allowed us enough food and water to keep us alive.

And I surely wouldn't be wrong in saying that typing responses on a keyboard for Enotes is surely not one of our body's normal way of functioning.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

People  (or more specifically, athletes, in this case) who want to use steroids are simply going to use them, whether it's legal or illegal, whether we like it or not. It is an individual choice, and those that choose to engage in steroid use are fully responsible for the consequences.  An individual chooses, whether or not the culture agrees.  Injecting insulin or a steroid amounts to the same thing -- Someone has chosen to take into his or her body something that wouldn't normally be there that will result in a desired effect. Whoever chooses to inject or ingest any drug would be foolish not to know as much as is knowable regarding beneficial and detrimental effects.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very diffiuclt topic.  Athletes do all sorts of unnatural things to try to gain an advantage in sports.  They also do things that are not good for their long term health (such as becoming extremely large to play certain positions in American football).  It is therefore very difficult to distinguish between unnatural things that are legal and steroid use.  It is hard to distinguish between harming your body by becoming overweight and using steroids.  I have a very difficult time discerning why steroid use is worse than some of these other things, even though I hate the idea of people using steroids to gain an advantage.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with post 5.  While athletes are often willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, the use of steroids is too dangerous.  In general, a person's body can recover from other practices like over-sized muscles or over zealous training.  The side effects and damages of these steroids can be permanent.  It also should be considered that a person using anabolic steroids can be a danger to others as well.  Most people have heard of "roid rage" and understand how dangerous that can be.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

#2 makes a very good point regarding the way that in competitive sports, many athletes do whatever they can to ensure they have the advantage against their opponents. I wonder, however, whether we could argue that the use of steroids is more harmful and gives a greater benefit than other such behaviours or practices, and for this reason alone the ban on steroid usage should be upheld.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a good question. Here is a general rule of thumb. You should only allow things that are open to all people. Since, steriod usage is forbidden, it gives an unfair advantage to people who use it. There is good reason why this is forbidden. It harms a person in the long run. For this reason, the ban on steriod usage should be upheld.


loraaa | Student

When improperly used, anabolic steroids can cause serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease; liver damage and cancers; and, stroke and blood clots. Other side effects of steroids include: nausea and vomiting, increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries, headaches, aching joints, muscle cramps, diarrhea, sleep problems and severe acne.

While the total impact of anabolic steroid abuse is not known, health care providers have observed the following problems:


  • Development of cholesterol patterns associated with coronary heart disease, obstructed blood vessels, or stroke


  • Increased cholesterol
  • Increased blood pressure


  • Impaired liver function
  • Peliosis hepatitis (blood-filled cysts that can rupture and cause liver failure)
  • Tumors


  • Stunted growth, caused by premature closing of cartilage-like growth plates in adolescents
  • Increased reate of muscle strains/ruptures


  • Appearance of, or increasing acne and other skin rashes or ailments
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Edema (water retention/swelling)
  • Striae (stretch marks)