Steroids In Sports Argumentative Essay

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Steroid Use in Athletics

In society today people continually raise the bar for athletes participating in competitive sports. Superior performance and successful execution has now become expected of the athlete. Every athlete faces the obstacle of finding the means to achieve such a high level of performance. Dedication, hard work, and becoming a constant student of the sport, are just a few of the ways athletes should go about getting better. Contrasting to those admirable ways of improving performance many athletes have chosen to take the easy, not to mention illegal, way out. Steroids have become widely used among athletes not just on the professional level, but at all levels of participation. Use of steroids has been deemed illegal in athletics for good reason. Not only does the drug give an athlete and unfair advantage, but also the harmful side effects negatively impact the athlete as well as the sporting community.

The drug, a synthetic derivative of the naturally occurring male anabolic hormone testosterone, can physically distort the athlete. It has a very dramatic effect on an athlete s body growth, muscle development, and other maturing aspects of the body. Helping the body retain dietary protein, the main source for muscle development, makes the drug appealing. Luring the athletes with increased muscle strength and mass, steroid abuse continues to rise. Many believe that only the football player or weightlifter abuse this drug. Contrary to that believe steroid abuse has increased in females and in adolescents. Desire to perform better, to feel better, and to look better has become the driving force for abuse.

Negative side effects come hand and hand with the benefits of the drug. Surprisingly the drug affects males, females, and adolescents differently. Males actually experience a feminization effect even though the drug is derived from a male sex hormone. Some of the possible effects include: reduced sperm count, impotence, development of breasts shrinking of the testicles, and difficulty or pain while urinating. Women on the other hand experience a masculinization effect from the drug. Possible effects include: facial hair growth, deepened voice, breast reduction, and menstrual cycle changes. Dr. Wadler, a New York University School of Medicine professor and consultant of the U.S. Department of Justice on anabolic- androgenic steroid use, explains the dangers of steroids for adolescents as well. He says, What happens is that steroids close the growth centers in a kid s bones. Once the growth plates close they are impossible to reopen hence, stunting the child s growth. For the long term users side effects that occur in all abusers include: acne, bloated appearance, rapid weight gain, clotting disorders, liver damage, premature heart attack, elevated cholesterol, and weakened tendons. These side effects, considered serious and even fatal, still do not deter the dedicated athlete.

The harmful impact of steroids does not end there; most users suffer psychologically as well. According to Dr. Wadler, anabolic steroids cause severe mood swings. People s psychological states can run the gamut, says Wadler. They can go from bouts of depression or extreme irritability to feelings of invincibility and outright aggression, commonly called roid rage. Withdrawal symptoms generated by steroid use include: decreased sex drive, insomnia, headache, fatigue, depression, anorexia, and dissatisfaction with body image.

With high risks and very real dangers, one can hardly imagine why people would want to use steroids. Yet, in recent articles published by the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information has stated that 90% of professional athletes have at one time taken some form of illegal performance enhancing drug. By nature men and women try to seek dominance over their respected genders intellectually, physically, and aesthetically. Society has always praised the athlete who achieves the most amazing physical feats, and rewarded them with fame. Steroids offer an athlete instant personal gratification by increasing strength, enhancing power and achieving an extraordinary physique. Continually wanting more and a lingering feeling of unsatisfaction; drives athletes to an uncontrollable addiction. The cycle often continues until the athlete suffers from an onslaught of physical and mental health problems. These effects pose a danger not only to the steroid users but also to the public at large.

The only way to remove the steroid abuse problem from athletics starts by changing the attitudes of the nation as a whole. Society must rid itself of the preconceived notion that bigger, stronger, and faster at any cost is better. Becoming the best should be just as important as the way in which it was achieved. People must have a no tolerance rule when it comes to steroid use in sports. In the incident of catching an athlete abusing this drug the sporting world should shun him denying him of all his accomplishments, and banning him from competing again. Until society takes a tough stand like this; the lives of good athletes and good people will remain in the balance.

Steroid Use By Athletes Should be Banned

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     It is amazing what athletes will do to achieve higher levels of performance and to sometimes get the extra edge on the competition. Most of the time people do not realize the long-term effects that result from the decisions they make early in life. This resembles the use of steroids in a person’s life.

Steroids became an option to athletes in the Olympics and other major sporting events during the 1950’s. But this use of steroids among athletes only became widely apparent when Canadian sprint runner Ben Johnson tested positive for steroid use after winning the gold medal for the one hundred-meter dash during the 1988 Olympics (Francis, 45). Now a skinny fifteen-year-old can just walk down to the local gym and find people who either sell or know how to get in contact with those who sell the drug that will make him envious of his friends. Steroids are an attractive drug. While steroids seem harmless to the unaware user, they can have a risky effect. Most of the time whether the users are new or experienced, they do not know the dangerous consequences steroids can have on their bodies and their minds. Though steroids cause a relatively insignificant number of deaths in our society, the banning of steroids is justified because steroids have a lot of side effects not known to the uninformed user.

     Even though steroids are known as a somewhat dangerous substance, they are legal to have and to consume. There has not been a study that proves such possible side effects are linked to medical problems of steroid users (Rogak, 89). There are those who have pointed out several cases where someone has died and an autopsy has shown that the person was using steroids, but they claim this does not mean that it is a deadly drug as some medical professionals have stated (97). Some advocates of steroids believe that because steroids are legal, and because it is the decision of the user to take the drug, steroids are not causing a problem in society. Alcohol and cigarettes are consumed by millions of people, causing a lot of deteriorating effects on their bodies, but there has never been a ban on these items because of the dangers that they can cause. Why should steroids be different? Some people say that the wide spread use of steroids among athletes is forcing the young athletes to use steroids, even though it is against their standards.

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This is because they know they can not compete at the level against their opponents who are using steroids to go to the next level of performance. A lot of people claim that this is how competition is supposed to be. Race car drivers are out there every day, pushing themselves to the limit. They are taking that corner a little bit faster, putting themselves in danger just a little bit more. This is no different than the risk football players, wrestlers, and weight lifters take when they decide to use steroids to take them to the next level. There are the people who justify steroid abuse because of these reasons, claiming that their use in sports and other activities are just the added element that an athlete needs to boost their performance.

     However, there has not yet been any definite medical research to prove that steroid abuse is linked to severe medical conditions (Cowart, 33). Only the warnings that come from users that are currently dealing with medical difficulties that most likely have been a result of steroid use. These people are living proof of the harmful effects of steroids. Cigarettes and alcohol are major contributors to thousands of deaths each year (47). A lot of people have family members or friends that are suffering from diseases and health conditions cause by smoking and drinking. Sometimes these can lead to an early grave, sometimes a very painful death. Some people will use these situations as a reason not to drink or smoke. A similar situation would be a young athlete watching their muscular idols suffering from medical problems caused by steroids. Some of these professionals will even admit to their former steroid abuse in hopes to persuade the thousands of young athletes that the quick results of steroids do not pay off in the end. When these kids see the long-term results that occur to professional athletes, they should realize the need to stay away from steroids or give up the addiction that they have to them. This might mean they will have to give up the idea of the body that they have always dreamed of. If someone who was currently abusing steroids was to listen to what a former addict has gone through, that person might very well be persuaded to give up the addiction. In the end these people would have the advantage because they will be the ones who are going to live a longer and happier life.

      Also, the physiological and psychological dependencies caused by steroids are most of the time consistent with steroid abusers (Silverstein, 61). These problems cause personal problems with the user as well as with the family and friends of the user. Once a young user sees the results in his body from the steroids, there is no turning back. It would be his worst nightmare to go back to that little body that was made fun of or picked on in school. When athletes see the performance advantages that they have gained, they will soon want to take more steroids because they will get used to the level they have obtained. For the athletes to stop and drop the addiction all of the sudden is not possible because second best is not acceptable in their minds. These addictions can also lead them to lose interest in friends and family because they are concentrating only on their physique and their athletic improvements. One of the worst results of steroid abuse is that the drug will cause “roid rages.” This is when out of no where there are spontaneous acts of violence and abuse towards anyone a user comes in contact with. Roid rage is usually caused when the user is cycling on and off of steroids (Lukas, 29). This creates a psychological rollercoster that can lead to violent outbursts because of the need to workout and release tension. The situation can be worse if the user is non-athletic because football players can release a lot of their rage on the field. Some sever addictions can include symptoms such as increased libido, sexual perversion, and psychotic episodes (48). Steroid induced criminal violence and murder has been documented many times (Park, 97).

For instance, Horace K. Williams, a twenty-three year old steroid user, was tried in May 1988 for the brutal murder of a hitchhiker (Gallaway, 104). Williams did not have a violent history and he did not have any major psychological problems. But Williams had started using steroids in order to improve his athletic performance. He played football in high school and after high school he got into bodybuilding. During his trial he described how steroids changed his behavior. In his first stage of steroid use, he used 5mg of oral Dianabol for two weeks and then 25mg per day for the next five weeks. Williams experienced an increase in confidence, which increased his ability to ask women out. This gave him a strong willingness to train harder. He also was increasing the steroids he used. He now was stacking Dianabol and oxymetholone orally along with injections of testosterone cypionate. He then described how he became easily agitated into violent behavior and he then was going around threatening people. At one time he tried to get off steroids but he “was so depressed that I thought I might kill myself if I didn’t get back on steroids. I felt like a wimp when I wasn’t on steroids.” He then started taking higher doses, stacking four to five different steroids daily. He became obsessed with fighting, he felt like everyone was afraid of him, and he got to the point were he could not control his own madness. Steroids caused this state of mind in Williams. One night he picked up a hitchhiker, drove him to an empty field, undressed him, beat him to death with a board and a lead pipe, scalped him, shaved the hair off his arms and legs, hung him with a rope, and repeatedly ran him over with his car (121).

     Steroids are also becoming more common in women’s athletics. The doses of steroids that women will take when they are cycling on steroids can have a lot of dangerous side effects. Some of the short-term effects involve deepened voice, loss of scalp hair, growth of facial hair and chest hair, and also genital problems. Women may also have irregularities in their menstrual cycle. The long-term side effects for women have not been determined yet.

Even with all of these effects, steroid use is very common in the sports world (Courson, 88). Athletes who use steroids do not think of themselves as cheaters. Many set high goals for themselves and work hard at achieving them. Steroids are seen as just a way to help them work harder and more effectively. Athletes that do not use steroids know that steroid users have an unfair advantage. United States shot –putter Augie Wolf summarized many athletes’ feelings: “Drug taking is rampant. Only the uninformed get caught. The pressure to take drugs is enormous. An athlete asks himself, ‘Do I take drugs and win medals, or do I play fair and finish last’?” Bill Curry, football coach at Alabama, comments, “The system is saying do whatever it takes to win. It is saying, ‘We’ll make you rich, famous and put you on TV.’ We are a quick-fix society that wants the rush, that medal, that national championship” (Johnson, 50).

      In addition, Retired sprinter Carl Lewis, who has won nine Olympic gold medals, came out with comments about drugs in modern sports. He called it “lies and cover-ups” by some track and field administrators who protect athletes who use performance enhancing drugs. Lewis said that authorities overlook many infractions and contended that it is “no coincidence” that most of the current high-profile drug controversies involve athletes over the age of thirty. Lewis went on to say “the sport is losing credibility because people know it is dirty. We need to change the whole moral standard of this sport”(Thibault, 2).

     If professional athletes are taking steroids, then a high school athlete has to be kicking the thought around of trying steroids. They have to wonder how they are going to succeed if

they do not take them. Steroid use could possibly be lowered in high school age kids if their high school physical education teachers taught their students about the effects of steroids and the lifestyle it could lead to.

     Just because there is no official proof that steroids can damage and possibly kill is no reason to allow steroids to be legal in out society. No proof does not mean that the dangers do not exist. Every year more and more famous retired athletes are admitting to steroid use in their career, and admitting certain medical problems as a result of their steroid abuse. People need to listen to what they have to say, and use them as the example for teaching the younger crowd. The banning of steroids would not only help the people who are currently abusing them, but also it help taper the spread of addiction to steroids in society.


Works Cited

Courson, Steve. False Glory. Stamford: Longmeadow Press, 1991.

Cowart, Virginia. Anabolic Steroids. Carmel: Benchmark Press, 1990.

Francis, Charlie. Speed Trap. New York: St. Maartin’s Press, 1990.

Gallaway, Steve. The Steroid Bible. Sacramento: BI Press, 1997.

Johnson, Neil. Foul Play: Drug Abuse In Sports. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986.

Lukas, Scott. Steroids. Springfield: Enslow Publishing, 1994.

Park, Roberta. Sport and Exercise Science. Chicago: University of Illinios Press, 1992.

Rogak, Lisa. Steroids, Dangerous game. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1992.

Silverstein, Robert. Steroids: Big Muscles, Big Problems. Hillside: Enslow Publishers, 1992.

Thibault, Steve. “Lewis Lashes Out At Drug Coverups.” The Boston Globe 22 Nov. 1999: 2d.



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