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Alison Merritt
Instructor: Malcolm Campbell
English 1103
March 23, 2015
Steroids: Body Builders or Body Breakers?
“It’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s about how you played the game.” This quote
is a popular one amongst little league teams everywhere;, I know it was a hit with my rec league
soccer team when I was eight. However, the meaning of this quote seems to have changed over
the past few decades. When most people hear this saying, they think “It’s okay if you lose, as long
as you give it all you’ve got and play to the best of your ability.” But what exactly is considered
“the best of your ability” nowadays?
Performance enhancing drugs, more specifically anabolic steroids and whether or not they
should be legal, is a very controversial topic in sports today. These are very prevalent in football,
baseball, and bodybuilding, but are present in other sports as well. Medical professionals from the
National Institute on Drug Abuse describe these drugs as synthetic variants of the male sex
hormone testosterone. The formal name for these are anabolic-androgenic steroids ("DrugFacts”:
Anabolic Steroids." DrugFacts: Anabolic Steroids. National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1 July 2012.
Web. 23 Mar. 2015). They are known to give your body a “boost.” In an article from NPRnpr.org,
Jessica Stoller-Conrad stated that they work by flooding the body with a “pumped-up variation on
testosterone's natural muscle-building potential.” (Stoller-Conrad, Jessica. "Athletes Look For
Doping Edge, Despite Tests And Risks." NPR. NPR, 17 July 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2015). Basically,
steroidsthey allow you to gain big muscle fast. There are different forms of steroids which can be
taken orally with pills, injecting them with needles or even using creams on your skin. Taking

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these performance enhancers allows you to be stronger, faster, have more intense workouts,
theyand have even been said to increase the rate at which you can heal from an injury. They literally
enhance your performance. But can artificially making all of these changes to your body only yield
positive results?

The use of these drugs is such a controversial topic for many reasons. There has been a
lot of research done on the health effects of anabolic steroids. Studies have shown that along
with the many ability boosting effects, are very serious health effects that come along with them.
Daniel Green, a human integrative biologist and cardiovascular exercise physiologist whose
research focuses on the prevention of cardiovascular disease helped write an article addressing
the relationship between steroids and cardiovascular health problems. Included in this article was
a list of case study events where cardiovascular risk factors were present among anabolic steroid
users. Some of these events included stoke, sudden death, and heart failure (Angell, P, N
Chester, D Green, J Somauroo, G Whyte, and K George. "Anabolic Steroids and Cardiovascular
Risk." Sports Medicine (auckland, N.z.). 42.2 (2012): 119-34. Webet al.). These are some of the
more severe results that have been traced back to steroid use. Other known symptoms also
include nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, aching joints, and urinary trouble. , etc. Not
only are anabolic steroids dangerous alone, but there is also the risk of athletes taking them along
with other performance enhancers, not taking the right dosage in hopes of getting a more positive
result, or even taking tainted drugs from an unreliable source.
One main problem is that many of the athletes taking these drugs don’t know the risks they
are taking while consuming them. Performance enhancers have not only been known to aeffect
physical health, but also mental health, especially when abused or not used properly. Medical

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institutions all over the United States have examined the relationship between steroid use and
behavior. What many have found is that the abuse of anabolic steroids may lead to aggression and
other psychiatric problems and although many users report feeling good about themselves while
on steroids, they often have extreme mood swings and anger that could lead to violence.
Researchers have also observed that users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability,
delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility ("DrugFacts”: Anabolic
Steroids." DrugFacts: Anabolic Steroids. National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1 July 2012. Web. 23
Mar. 2015). The term “roid rage” has even been established as a result of aggression among steroid
users.
On the other side, there are quite a few people who would argue that the use of performance
enhancing drugs have been, and always will be a part of the game and should be legal. They would
also argue that it only adds excitement to watching professional sports. People love to watch sports,
that’s a fact. For some people, there are few things more exciting than seeing your favorite player
score a touchdown or make the winning basket. Who’s to say that they can’t take performance
enhancers to up their ability and give the fans what they want to see?
Steroids are typically taken in cycles, usually weeks or months at a time in an attempt to
minimize the side effects and keep the body from not producing certain hormones, but does this
actually work? Athletes often take several different kinds of steroids to have more of an effect.
This is known as “stacking.” Many supporters of steroid use among athletes would challenge the
health risks of the drugs by saying that making the use of anabolic steroids legal in sports would
make it easier for them to be monitored. If athletes were less worried about being caught with the
drugs or being tested positive, they would be more worried about taking the correct ones, the right
way. If all professional athletes were allowed to use performance enhancers under the supervision

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of doctors and other medical professionals, they would be more aware of the effects of them. This
would make using these drugs less dangerous.

There is also controversy regarding professional athletes using steroids and the impact it
has on younger athletes. Young people all over look up to professional athletes, either because
they are fun to watch or because maybe they want to be a professional athlete one day. This
opens the door for another important question.How does the use of steroids affect the youth?
Young men and women might take these drugs for their self-esteem and body image, but media
plays a big role as well. When young kids or teens see their favorite athletes all over the TV,
magazines, and other media, they often want to be like them. This explains why many athletes
make millions of dollars off of clothes and shoe endorsements. Most people would agree that
kids seeing their favorite players all over the media for getting busted for using illegal drugs,
rather than winning a game does not show a positive influence. Even if the drugs were legal,
should the youth be exposed to the pressures of taking these drugs? It is likely that they will not
be aware of the many health problems that come along with it. As far as being good role models
goes, many pro-steroid advocates have argued that it is not the athletes who encourage the youth
to participate. In fact, a study was released in 2007 attempting to find out what motivates teen
boys to take steroids and they found that the most reliable indicator of steroid use was the teen's
own self-esteem and body image. Radley Balko, Senior Editor of Reason Magazine, stated in a
debate that “teenage boys who do take steroids, do so not because they want to look like Barry
Bonds or Mark McGwire, but because they want to look good for teenage girls” (qtd.in "We
Should Accept Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Competitive Sports." Video blog post.
Intelligence Squared US. Intelligence Squared US, 15 Jan. 2008. Web).

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There is also the argument that performance enhancing drugs don’t make athletes good
ballplayers, they just “amplify their skills.” Raymmar Tirado with The Huffington Post stated “I
could take all the steroids in the world but if you put me at the plate and throw me a 90mph fast
ball, the only thing I'm going to do is get the hell out of the way.” (Tirado). He also mentions
how not allowing steroids in sports is hypocritical by saying “Imagine if we told Hollywood
actors that they were no longer allowed to be in another movie if they have had undergone
plastic surgery or told all the magazine publishers that they are no longer allowed to Photoshop
the images. Maybe next we'll try to tell college kids who take Adderall that their test scores are
invalid or tell the pregnant mother that she has to suffer through the pain of child birth because
the epidural would artificially dull the pain” (Tirado, Raymmar. "Is It Time to Say Yes to
Steroids in Professional Sports?" The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 5 Nov. 2014.
Web. 24 Mar. 2015).

As you can see, there are many, many reasons why people either do or do not support the
use of anabolic steroids in sports. However, it seems to me though that there might be a good
amount of arguments supporting the use of these drugs, they do not compare to the importance of
the dangers these drugs cause. Yes, you can monitor the side effects and negative results of
taking these drugs, but that does not mean they will not occur. Many sports fans would also say
that the use of these drugs takes the competition out of the game, and that a real good athlete
doesn’t need them. This would create an unfair advantage to the athletes who want to protect
their health and not take the steroids, even if they were legal. I love watching sports and the
competition of the game as much as the next person, but allowing athletes to take these
performance enhancers will not even the playing field. Saying that the game is “fair” because all
athletes in the NFL or NBA, or any other league can take them does not mean it is. Is this fair to

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the athletes who are concerned about their health and choose not to artificially enhance their
ability? Just because they don’t want to risk the long-term effects on their bodies doesn’t mean
that they should be penalized by playing against steroid-users who are all pumped up on artificial
enhancers. Athletes don’t take the drugs to level the playing field, they take them to get an
advantage over the other players. If the use of anabolic steroids were to be legalized, what would
stop the competition from being about who has the better drug or doctor rather than talent?. This
jeopardizes the integrity of the game. I love to watch my favorite athletes, because they are good
and it’s a thrill to see them compete against other very talented athletes. I’d like to think that is
because of their natural ability and hard work. Regarding the debate on the use of these drugs
affecting the youth, Radley Balko made a valid point about young athletes taking steroids to look
good for themselves and peers. However, y oung people all over look up to professional athletes,
either because they are fun to watch or because maybe they want to be a professional athlete one
day. Young men and women might take these drugs for their self-esteem and body image, but
media plays a big role as well. When young kids or teens see their favorite athletes all over the
TV, magazines, and other media, they often want to be like them. This explains why many
athletes make millions of dollars off of clothes and shoe endorsements. Most people would agree
that kids seeing their favorite players all over the media for getting busted for using illegal drugs,
rather than winning a game does not show a positive influence. Young athletes often wear their
favorite athlete’s jersey numbers, follow their training methods as well as how they play. When
they see them using steroids, they might think that that’s part of being a good athlete. Even if the
drugs were legal, should the youth be exposed to the pressures of taking these drugs? It is likely
that they will not be aware of the many health problems that come along with it.

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If performance enhancing drugs were to be legalized, there would most likely be a lot of
arguments regarding the Hall of Fame in a lot of sports. Many anti-steroid advocates have
refused to vote for many professional athletes when they found out that they were taking
performance enhancers. If they were to become legal, would that be fair to the players who were
previously denied a spot in the Hall of Fame because they used steroids? Or should athletes who
made it to the Hall of Fame and later discovered to be using steroids be removed from the record
books? Athletes such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are known as two of the most talented
baseball players, but have yet to make it to the Hall of Fame. Many argue that these two are more
talented than the other players even without the use of steroids and that they deserve a spot.
However, if this were to happen there would be a lot of debate over the other players who were
not voted in for the same reason.

Young people all over look up to professional athletes, either because they are fun to
watch or because maybe they want to be a professional athlete one day. This opens the door for
another important question.

How does the use of steroids affect the youth? Young men and women might take these
drugs for their self-esteem and body image, but media plays a big role as well. When young kids
or teens see their favorite athletes all over the TV, magazines, and other media, they often want
to be like them. This explains why many athletes make millions of dollars off of clothes and shoe
endorsements. Most people would agree that kids seeing their favorite players all over the media
for getting busted for using illegal drugs, rather than winning a game does not show a positive
influence. Even if the drugs were legal, should the youth be exposed to the pressures of taking

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these drugs? It is likely that they will not be aware of the many health problems that come along
with it.

One of the many factors that play into the use of anabolic steroids and other performance
enhancing drugs is the pressure put on athletes, on a professional or lower level. They receive
pressure from parents, peers, coaches, and fans. Coaches can place a lot of pressure on their team
in an effort to do well and the players also have the added pressure of not wanting to disappoint
their fans. For high school or college level athletes, the pressure to succeed and move to the next
level alone is enough to make someone want to take enhancers to increase their chances. A New
York Times's investigation has revealed that many athletes still use drugs because of peer
pressure or a belief that opponents are using them. Some athletes in team sports are branded as
cowards or accused of not being team players if they refuse to take them (Janofsky, Michael, and
Peter Alfano. "Victory at Any Cost: Drug Pressure Growing." The New York Times. The New
York Times, 20 Nov. 1988. Web. 29 Mar. 2015). Many young athletes have dreams to play on a
professional level, they want the contracts, the money, and to be famous. If they believe that
these drugs can help them achieve that dream, there is a very high chance that they will take
them. So what can be done about this?

There are several ways to prevent the use of performance enhancing drugs. The first
approach is to teach kids in schools about the negative effects of steroid use. However, according
to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is more effective to present the kids with the risks as
well as the benefits, because the students find a balanced approach more credible ("Anabolic
Steroid Abuse." What Can Be Done to Prevent Steroid Abuse? The National Institute on Drug
Abuse. Web. 26 Mar. 2015). There are also many programs designed to teach young athletes

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about the dangers of steroids and how to refuse them. One program is The Adolescents Training
and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) program. They show high school football players that
they do not need steroids to build powerful muscles by educating them about the harmful effects
of anabolic steroids and providing them with nutrition and weight-training alternatives to steroid
use. Listed below are some of the results of this program after just one year provided by the
National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Half the incidence of new abuse of anabolic steroids and less intention to abuse them in

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the future

Less abuse of alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, and narcotics

Less abuse of "athletic enhancing" supplements

Less likelihood of engaging in hazardous substance abuse behaviors such as drinking and
driving

Increased protection against steroid and other substance abuse. Namely, less interest in
trying steroids, less desire to abuse them, better knowledge of alternatives to steroid
abuse, improved body image, and increased knowledge of diet supplements
("Anabolic Steroid Abuse." NIDA-funded Prevention Research Helps Reduce Steroid
Abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.)
Another approach ist to make drug testing more prevalent. If there were more rules and

regulations regarding drug testing among athletes, there would be more concern about getting
caught, leading to less use of the drugs. An article from NPRnpr.org stated apparently only
about half of the participants in the 2012 Olympics were to be tested for performance enhancing
drugs, leaving at least 5,000 unaccounted for ("Athletes Look For Doping Edge”, Despite Tests
And Risks." NPR. NPR, 17 July 2012. Web. 27 Mar. 2015). But what about those “untraceable”

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steroids? If drug tests were to increase, it is likely that the number of ways to cover up the use of
steroids might also increase. There is always the possibility that the increased drug tests will not
stop certain players from taking anabolic steroids. Some steroids are popular because they are
supposed to be able to pass through your body relatively fast, not appearing on a drug test. There
is also a number of detox drinks and pills today that are known to help you pass a drug test. This
is a major setback in the prevention of performance enhancers. Not only should tests be
increased, but also randomthey should also be random. Random drug tests occur sometimes, but
an increased amount of random testing could help. Athletes could also be required to have
physicals often enough that doctors could test them for other signs and side effects of steroid use.
These are only a few strategies. Hopefully making more people aware of the dangers and
negative effects of anabolic steroids will reduce the use in the next generation and keep them
from becoming legal. There is not one answer to solve the problem of performance enhancing
drugs in sports, but adding more prevention strategies is a step in the right direction.

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Works Cited
"Anabolic Steroid Abuse." NIDA-funded Prevention Research Helps Reduce Steroid Abuse. The
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

"Anabolic Steroid Abuse." What Can Be Done to Prevent Steroid Abuse? The National Institute
on Drug Abuse. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.
Angell, P, N Chester, D Green, J Somauroo, G Whyte, and K George. "Anabolic Steroids and
Cardiovascular Risk." Sports Medicine (Aauckland, N.pz.). 42.2 (2012): 119-34. Web.
"Athletes Look For Doping Edge, Despite Tests And Risks." NPR. NPR, 17 July 2012. Web. 27
Mar. 2015.
"DrugFacts: Anabolic Steroids." DrugFacts: Anabolic Steroids. National Institute on Drug
Abuse, 1 July 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
Janofsky, Michael, and Peter Alfano. "Victory at Any Cost: Drug Pressure Growing." The New
York Times. The New York Times, 20 Nov. 1988. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Stoller-Conrad, Jessica. "Athletes Look For Doping Edge, Despite Tests And Risks." NPR. NPR,
17 July 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
Tirado, Raymmar.”Is It Time to Say Yes to Steroids in Professional Sports?" The Huffington
Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.
"We Should Accept Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Competitive Sports." Video blog post.
Intelligence Squared US. Intelligence Squared US, 15 Jan. 2008. Web.