Drug use by athletes has been issue of controversy for many years. Athletes and performers often use artificial stimulants to give them a physical and mental advantage. The use of performance enhancing drugs can be traced to the ancient Olympic Games where fame and fortune were rewarded for athletic success and the same is practiced in today’s time.
While we consider and trust that most athletes compete drug-free, but history and research shows that some seek to gain an unjustified advantage through performance-enhancing substances. Many performance enhancing substances are used in an effort to change body distribution, not necessarily to improve athletic performance. Unfortunately, performance enhancing substances continue to be an issue and high risk for athletes.
Drug testing of athletes is becoming common in all sports to one degree or the other. This raises constitutional issues of right to privacy as our constitution provides us protections from illegal searches and seizures, particularly since testing involves an analysis of a sample from urine or blood.
What are Performance-enhancing drugs?
They are substances athletes inject or eat up to increase the human body’s capability to perform during training sessions and sports contests. This includes common,
- Natural and synthetic muscle-building supplements,
- recovery products,
- and endurance-enhancing blood doping
- Dietary supplements.
- Human growth hormone
- Anabolic steroids
Performance-enhancing drugs might be consumed orally or via needle injection.
RISKS OF PEDS
Using performance-enhancing drugs — alias, doping — isn’t without risks. Using so called Peds such as anabolic steroids, androstenedione, human growth hormone are discussed as follows. You may decide that the benefits aren’t worth the risks.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Some athletes take a form of steroids — known as anabolic-androgen steroids or just anabolic steroids — to increase their muscle mass and strength. The main anabolic steroid hormone produced by your body is testosterone.
Testosterone has two main effects on your body:
Anabolic effects promote muscle building.
Androgenic effects are responsible for male traits, such as facial hair and a deeper voice.
Some athletes take straight testosterone to boost their performance. Frequently, the anabolic steroids that athletes use are synthetic adjustments of testosterone.
Anabolic steroids come with serious physical side effects as well.
|MEN MAY DEVELOP: |
|WOMEN MAY DEVELOP: |
|BOTH MEN ANDWOMEN MAY EXPERINCE|
| ||· A deeper voice |
|· Severe acne |
| ||· An enlarged clitoris |
|· High blood pressure (hypertension) |
|· Increased body hair |
|· Heart and circulatory problems |
|· Baldness |
|· Increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)|
|· Impotence |
|· Infrequent or absent periods |
|· Decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)|
| ||· Drug dependence |
WHAT IS IT?
Androstenedione (andro) is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, ovaries and testes. It’s a hormone that’s normally converted to testosterone and estradiol in both men and women. Andro is available legally only in prescription form and is a controlled substance.
Manufacturers and bodybuilding magazines promote its ability to allow athletes to train harder and recover and regain more quickly.
|Men may develop: |
|Women may develop: |
|Both men and women might experience|
|· Acne|| ||Andro can decrease HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), which puts you at greater risk of heart attack and stroke.|
|· Diminished sperm production|| |
|· Shrinking of the testicles|
|· Enlargement of the breasts|
HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE
WHAT IS IT?
Human growth hormone, popularly known as gonadotropin, is a hormone that has an anabolic outcome. Athletes take it to increase muscle mass and performance. However, it hasn’t been shown definitively to improve either strength or stamina. It is available only by instruction and is administered by injection.
Adverse effects related to human growth hormone range in harshness and may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Fluid reservation
- Vision problems
- Joint pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Damaged glucose regulation
- Enlarged heart (cardiomegaly)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
Drug abuse in athletes is a significant problem that has many potential underlying causes. The drive to be the best in sport dates to ancient times, as does the use of performance-enhancing substances. With the ever-rising pressures faced by athletes, it is not surprising that drug abuse by athletes exists across essentially all sports and age groups.
Suggestions for those undertaking research and clinical work with athletes include:
- If providers become aware of an athlete using PEDs, they should educate the athlete about the potential risks of continued use, regardless of any evidence that suggests this may not be influential for all athletes. Providers should encourage discontinuation of the abused substance(s).
- There is great variance in drug testing programs in different sports and at different levels of competition.More high-quality, prospective, randomized trials should be undertaken to determine the deterrent efficacy of various types of PED screening programs, and changes should be made to those types of screening programs found to be ineffective.
- Physicians, trainers, coaches, parents, and others in the athlete entourage need to be well trained in recognizing the signs and symptoms of drug abuse, including changes in physical health and behaviors.
- The efficacy of education about PED use as a preventative measure needs further study. Early integration of well-designed prevention curricula into sports programs may be beneficial. However, as alluded to earlier, at least one preliminary study suggests that educational programs that solely emphasize the negative effects of PEDs may be ineffective for young athletes.
- Mental health professionals should be included in the network of team doctors and other health care providers readily available to athletes. Psychiatrists are often helpful in developing strong drug prevention policies that emphasize education and treatment and not just sanctions. Mental health care professionals should have a year-round presence with the athletes and teams with whom they are working so as to build trust.
- Screening for and treatment of underlying mental illnesses such as depression that may contribute to self-treatment with drugs by athletes should be increased. The effectiveness of this screening should be studied.
- Research should examine differences in treatment approaches that may be needed for athletes who have been using drugs for a shorter versus longer period of time.
Trainers, coaches, and health care providers should provide evidence-based, safe substitutes to PED use, including excellent nutrition, weight-training strategies, and intellectual approaches to improving performance, all of which may help with athlete’s confidence in their natural talent.