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Drug Use in Professional Sports

Drug use is a major problem facing professional sports in the Use and all over the word. The need to perform better has taken over the ethic and moral of the means used by athletes. Should we still give the credits to those professional athletes for their outstanding performances?
Today, one cannot ignore the importance of sports in society. Professional sports have become a multibillion dollar business that is surrounded by a controversy of using illegal drugs. Why do athletes use drugs such as anabolic steroids? Why professional sports allowed the uses of such illicit Substances? Why the use of steroids leads to such a Controversial debate among sport and health professionals? Should the use of such drugs be banned? In this paper, we will be looking at the use of drugs steroids and the controversy around the use of such an illicit drug using three articles respectively entitled: " Controversies of the sports world" by Douglas T. Putman, "Drug Testing: Issues and Options" by Robert H. Coombs , and " Drugs and sports" by David R. Mottram.
 
In his article " Controversies of the sports world", Douglas T. Putman, examines some controversies of the use of illegal drugs in sports world, the ongoing conditions or sets of circumstances that give rise to drama, conflict, and tension and that illuminate one or more aspects of sports' connection to, and influence on, our society. According to Putman, one of the reasons why illicit drugs are being used by the athletes is to maintain the competitive edge [pg.115]. This means that the athletes use illicit drugs in order to fight injuries and maintain agility to remain in the competition. By using "banned substance", athletes run a high risk of being suspended or even disqualified from the competitions. Using illicit drugs in sports is illegal; therefore all athletes who are suspected of using such banned drugs pay a high price.

Disqualification from an important competition can affects the athlete's psychological well-being. In order to detect the illicit drug use, the USA Track and Field governing body for the sports in United States runs a urine test, that shows the level of drug use.[pg. 115] Many athletes, like Richard Stanley, for example, who showed high levels of testosterone, a male hormone, in urine sample gets suspended or even disqualified. [pg. 115] Athletes are enraged at such laws and feel that their integrity has been violated. In fact they believe that using these drugs should be legal, because among other things these drugs help them fight the injuries that they undergo playing rigorous sports.

In addition, Putman laid out some additional reasons to why athletes use illicit drugs in sports. For example, African- American athletes compete in this high risk competition, to break down racial barriers that were once established by racism. African- Americans feel the need to step up to the game and show their talents. One of the greatest African-American athletes in golf is Tiger Woods. He won one of the four major golf titles: the Masters, the U.S Open, the British Open, and the Professional Golfers Association Championship at age twenty-one. [pg.17] Recruiting high school football and basketball players is a competitive ordeal that generates prestige, success, and millions of dollars for the colleges and universities that are athletic superpowers. The boundaries of legal and ethical behavior are hard for many people involved in the recruiting process to see (p.1). Another reason athletes use illicit drugs is to stay thin, which can become an overwhelming force in the lives of many athletes, especially females who compete in gymnastics and figure skating. He asserts that athletes who become slaves to the scale place themselves at serious risk of injury and even death (p.35). Finally the last but not least controversy for the use of illicit drugs is due to the pressure to reach the superstardom. This implies that the careers of many young athletes begin as soon as they are old enough to walk, often under pressure from parents and coaches. Millions of kids, according to Putnam, reach for the dream of superstardom, but few achieve it. Victory, he explains, is all that matters to the youth in sports competition (p47).

In his article, "Drug testing issues and options", Robert H. Coombs reveals the shocking truth about drug testing not only by the athletes in sports, but also in workplace and military. According to him, a drug-free safe workplace is appealing to all employees, but mandatory testing can be a control issue, a humiliating intrusion by management into a subordinate's privacy (p. xv). This book implies that in the early 1960s urine testing for drugs was a technique used exclusively in methadone maintenance, in drug rehabilitation programs, and in other clinical set- tings. But mandatory testing for other substances of abuse reached an-other segment of the U.S. population in the late 1960s when the International Olympic Committee banned a number of substances used by athletes to improve performance. It was not until the early 1980s that the first mass screening program was introduced by the military services (p.3). According to the article, throughout history in every society people have used drugs, not only to cure illness and alleviate pain, but also to alter mood, thought, and feeling and to improve physical and mental performance (p.3).

Michael Walsh and Jeanne Trumble assume that the lawyers and politicians - the drug-testing roster includes pathologists, forensic toxicologists, civil libertarians, pharmaceutical manufacturers, laboratory associations, employee unions, security and law enforcement personnel, social and health service providers, victims groups, and assorted lobbyists for all the above who relentlessly bring political pressure to ensure that the rights, interests, and paychecks of their respective constituencies will be protected (p.22).

Eric D. Zemper asserts that Attempting to control drug use by athletes through drug testing and education have increased considerably in recent years, as has the amount of public attention to the use of drugs by athletes. He argues that a number of factors make drug testing in athletics unique in comparison with drug testing in the workplace, the military, or elsewhere.

While non-athletic drug testing generally has focused on illegal drugs that hinder work performance, drug testing in athletics, according to Zemper, has focused primarily on legal drugs that are taken to artificially enhance athletic performance.(As will be pointed out, the emphasis on illegal drugs in athletic drug testing is a very recent phenomenon.) Except for testing done by the federal government on employees or military personnel, non-athletic drug testing generally has been done on a local level, while most athletic drug testing has involved national or international sport's-governing bodies. Finally, athletic drug testing primarily has focused on a class of drugs never considered in non-athletic drug testing: the anabolic steroids. This latter fact has a number of implications for testing protocols, the timing of testing, the type of equipment, and the expertise required of the personnel doing the testing. But like drug testing in non-athletic settings, the testing of athletes raises a number of philosophical and legal questions, some of which can be addressed in a straightforward manner and many of which, as we shall see, still present no clear-cut answers.

In "Drugs in sports", Michael Verroken maintains that the extensive use of medicinal products for the alleviation of the symptoms of disease can be dated back to the Greek physician, Galen, in the third century BC. Interestingly, it was Galen who reported that ancient Greek athletes used stimulants to enhance their physical performance. Verroken, argues that in the Ancient Olympic Games, athletes had special diets and were reported to have taken various substances to improve their physical capabilities. The winner of the 200m sprint at the Olympic Games of 668 BC , according to Verroken, was said to have used a special diet of dried figs! (Finlay and Plecket, 1976). Even the Ancient Egyptians, he said, used a drink made from the hooves of asses, which had been ground and boiled in oil, then flavored with rose petals and rose hips, to improve their performance. In Roman times, gladiators are reported to use stimulants to maintain energy levels after injury. Similar behavior by medieval knights has also been noted (Donohoe and Johnson, 1986). In fact throughout history, there are examples that athletes have sought a magic potion to give them that extra edge, to help them take a shortcut to achieving a good performance or to enable them to compete under circumstances when otherwise it might not have been possible, such as injury or illness.

According to Verroken, today's athletes may simply be following previous traditions. [p.29] Verroken argues that the use of drugs is not restricted to humans; horses were also found to have been doped. The intention was not always to improve performance; it may have been to 'nobble' the opposition (p.29). The article reveals that doping of horses was prohibited in 1903, however it was not until saliva testing was used effectively in 1910 that horse doping could be proven. Subsequent improvements in technology to identify the vast range of substances prohibited in equestrian sports has led to blood and urine testing being carried out regularly at race meetings and more recently at no notice at stables (p.29).

Alan J. George affirms that anabolic steroid use in male and female athletes are that anabolic steroids do increase muscle bulk and body weight in all anabolic steroid takers but that increases in strength are certain to occur at low doses only in those undertaking regular training exercise (p.138). According to him, the long-term side-effects of anabolic steroids may be severe and will depend on dosage and duration. In particular, early death from cardiovascular disease, sterility in men and, in women, masculinization and possible fetal effects constitute the most serious hazards (p.138). George implies that more recently, studies have suggested that psychological and behavioral changes and addiction may result from chronic anabolic steroid abuse, but methodological inconsistencies still make evaluation of these side-effects very difficult. There is evidence of increased abuse of steroids for cosmetic reasons as well among college and school students and that intensive education programs have had little effect on steroid abuse so far (p.138).
 
In the multibillion dollar business, the use of illicit drugs by the athletes still persists. Illicit drugs remain a controversy, and athletes use them for different reasons. One of the most important uses is for fighting injuries, which allows athletes to remain in competition. The controversy lies in the use of illegal drugs for other purposes which can, in fact, be dangerous. To stop the use of illicit drugs, sports authority has used urine and other tests to disqualify the athletes who show use of these drugs. The impact on the health is still controversial, but one thing is for sure, as long as these drugs are in the market, athletes are still going to use them.
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Published: 10/26/2010
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