Tyson Gay, Rashid Ramzi, Floyd Landis, and Lance Armstrong are all examples of well aspired olympic athletes that are doping users. So, what are Performance enhancing drugs, also known as PEDs? They are drugs used to gain extra muscle mass, body size, or athletic ability in a small amount of time. Steroids, Human growth Hormone, Erythropoietin, Creatine and Diuretics are the most commonly used performance enhancers according to the mayo clinic. Why create performance enhancing drugs?
In Germany 1935, testosterone was used to help clinically treat patients with depression. Then starting in the 1954 olympics, anabolic steroids began there abuse (Pope et al.). The World Anti Doping Agency recorded multiple blood or urine test from 2008-2017 to find substance use in the body’s of athletes. The results showed that there was around 100,000 more samples finding PEDs in drug test from olympic athletes compared to professional athletes. The use of performance enhancing drugs should not be allowed in olympic sports because of the dangerous effects, the repercussions of using them in olympics, and it violates the “Spirit of Sport.”
“Most athletes will tell you the drive to win is fierce” (Mayo Clinic staff). Is the title of winning worth months of severe side effects PEDs produce? There are two kinds of steroids, androgenic or anabolic, androgenic will grow hair and form a lower male voice whereas anabolic will help with getting large muscles. Both of these types of steroids side effects include infertility, gland enlargement, liver damage and possibility of tumors, blood and circulation problems, aggressive behavior and possible depression. If you want to take a big risk, go ahead and try “designer steroids.” These are a synthetic type of steroids that are undetectable through drug test. The Mayo Clinic Staff says “Because of this, they haven’t been tested or approved by the food and drug administration and represent a particular health threat to athletes.” Androstenedione is a hormone that converts to testosterone and a type of estrogen. It is illegal in the United States unless prescribed. These side effects are similar to steroids with the addition of baldness and acne. Human Growth Hormone is an injection that increases muscle mass, it also is only legal if prescribed. HGH side effects are joint pain, diabetes, vision problems, and high blood pressure.
Lastly diuretics and creatine have possible effects such as weight gain, dizziness, cramps, dehydration and potassium deficiency (Mayo Clinic Staff). According the an infographic image “Sports Doping:Classification and effects” the use of performance enhancers have a damaging effect to each part of the body. Anabolic steroids affect the quad muscle because of they “accelerate nearly all biosynthetic processes” (“Sports Doping”). In a study on a mice, researchers gave female mice anabolic steroids for 14 days. Three months after the steroids were “out of the system” the researches put the mice on an exercise plan for six days. The mice that had previously been injected showed muscle enhancement 31% more than non-injected mice. (Chant).
Olympic athletes are expected to follow the Spirit of Sport codes. The “Spirit of Sport” is health, excellence in performance, character and education, fun and joy, teamwork, dedication and commitment, respect for rules and others, courage, and lastly community and solidarity (McNamee). So, according to these rules would performance enhancers go against the Spirit of Sport? April Ashby with Marquette University Law School would agree. Ashby states “it’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s how you played the game” (Ashby). The olympics and the olympic movement were established by Pierre de Coubertin on June 23, 1894. Coubertin had a vision for the olympics and his vision was “To ennoble and strengthen sports, to ensure their independence and duration, and thus to enable them better fulfil the educational role incumbent upon them in the modern world” (qtd. Coubertin). The olympic symbol is five rings interlaced with one and other.
The Olympic Charter (or OC). The OC “is the codification of the fundamental principles of olympism (International Olympic Committee). One of the missions and roles of the International olympic committee is “to protect clean athletes and the integrity of sport, by leading the fight against doping, and by taking action of all forms of manipulation of competitions and related corruption” (Olympic Charter, 18). “Sport is about a range of specific activities which involves competition and requires physical conditioning and skills. Skills have to be learned for an individual to become a performer (Ellison-Brown). If the Spirit of Sport is encouraging natural abilities why should drugs that help short term enhancements be allowed? Cheating is when a person is violating rules or regulations for a certain activity. Taking performance enhancing drugs would be affecting the “Spirit of Sport” because it would go against having “good character” and “respect for rules.”
Repercussions for olympic athletes caught using performance enhancing drugs could include medals being taken away, being banned from future olympics, or getting the entire team in trouble. The United States,12 time medalist, swimmer Ryan Lochte was caught for doping around July of 2018. Lochte’s punishment is a 14 month ban from competing in the olympics from the Anti-Doping-World-Agency. At the winter olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 4 athletes were caught using Performance enhancing drugs (Irfan and Belluz). In the 2016 olympics in Rio, Russia’s entire team was accused of using performance enhancing drugs. Now the punishment for doping is a ban from the 2018 winter olympics. “The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound” (Ruiz and
Panja). Although majority of the team was proven to be using PEDs, some of the athletes will be aloud to compete but not for any country and wearing a neutral uniform. The Russian Olympic committee was sent a fine of $15 million, “the money will be put toward drug testing international athlete” (Qtd. Global Officials). Another example of consequences can be seen from olympic cyclist, Lance Armstrong. Seven time Tour De France winner and Olympic bronze medal holder was stripped of all his medals after finally admitting to the use of steroids. In October of 2013, Armstrong and his teammates were accused “with more than 1,000 pages of evidence in doping allegations by the Anti-Doping Agency” (Wilson). Since 1968 until 2012 over 70 athletes were caught for the use of Performance enhancing drugs (He, Lai, Murray). Needless to say the repercussions for drug use are harshful. Why win a Gold medal if you won’t have it for long?
According to The British Journal Of Sports Medicine Volume 38 issue 6, “the legalization of drugs in sport may be fairer and safer.” Performance enhancing drugs in sports first made an appearance at the third olympics when Thomas Hicks won a race because of a strychichine shot during the race. “Elite athletes can earn tens of millions of dollars every year in prize money alone, and millions more in sponsorships or endorsements. The penalties for cheating are small. A six month or one year ban from competition is a small penalty to pay for further years of million dollar success” (Savulescu, Foddy, Clayton). The authors also feel that animal sports are testing the abilities of that animals speed whereas in human sports “we drive ourselves.” “We make choices and exercise our own judgment. We chose what kind of training to use and how to run our race.” (Savulescu, Foddy, Clayton). According to the writers of “Why We Should Allow Performance Enhancing Drugs In Sport” the winner would be the athlete that has trained the hardest, has the best judgement and physiology. The genetics behind a person also helps his or her athleticism. An example can be shown in the olympic skier, Eero Mantyranta who
won three gold medals. In research it was proven that he had 50% more red blood cells than the average person. To raise the red blood cells in a person’s body they can train, use a hypoxic air machine or take EPOs. “By allowing everyone to take performance enhancing drugs we are leveling the playing field” (Qtd. Savulescu et.al).
Taking any form of something that can quickly boost ones performance is cheating. The rules on the olympic website state the codes a athlete must follow to be in the olympics. Doping users can be disqualified, retracted of past medals, or even worse, banned. Even though being an elite competitor can come with benefits such as money, you still shouldn’t earn your money by going against regulations. If an athlete is born with a certain amount of blood cells or a better athletic ability than another person that is their natural ability and should be considered a personal advantage. All it takes to improve one’s muscle mass is working harder. All it takes to improve one’s speed is running more often. All it takes to win is to train the hardest and be the best. I personally believe that being the best at something does not come from how many drugs can you get in your system but by the individual work ethic of an athlete. Performance enhancing drugs should not be permitted in olympic sports.
So, what side should you take? Based on the above evidence one should not be permitted to take performance enhancing drugs in order to win a competition. Multiple articles are published showing the long term effects performance enhancers do to someone’s body. The consequences of taking drugs such as steroids, result in a loss of previous olympic titles and can hurt the entire team. Lastly, if you are in the olympics to win, at least do it fairly. Competing in the olympics is a dream of many people but if you get the chance make sure to consider the spirit of sport. According to the Spirit of Sport and effects of doping, performance enhancing drugs should not be allowed in the olympics.