Physical Impacts of Performance Enhancing Drugs

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Performance enhancing drugs can have various physical positive and negative effects that can assist or harm an athlete. They have the potential to dramatically alter the human body but also improve athletic performance. Doping may help athletes gain a competitive edge but come with potential risks as well as benefits. Also with the use of P.E.Ds, there may be a physical long term impact on the athlete’s body. Drugs in sports has changed largely over the time and will only keep on evolving exponentially as the years go by. In the earlier years, there were fewer known performance enhancing drugs that had yet to be discovered and fewer ways and methods of drug testing athletes for performance enhancing drug use.

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The usage of P.E.Ds such as steroids, hormones, stimulants, creatine, and many more drugs can give a useful advantage when it comes to an athlete’s body. Anabolic steriods are perhaps the most commonly used drug in the doping scene. Steroids have positive attributes like increasing lean muscle mass, which is useful to bodybuilders. Also, a study done by Rogerston and associates demonstrated that the usage of steroids increases the size of the body (Rogerston, 2007). A particular type of steroids are the designer steroids, also known as synthetic steroids, which are specifically made for athletes. So far, designer steroids do not have a verified medical use and have yet to be tested or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2015). Human growth hormones (HGH) are involved with the pituitary gland that stimulates growth in children and adolescent, and believed to have aided adults with anti aging effects. Human growth hormones can boost speed and strength, as well as enhance weight loss and just improve overall performance in general as explained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA, 2015). Over the years, many athletes have gotten caught doping and have had to pay the price dearly for it. Though, there is no doubt doping certainly helped them thrive in their athletic performances. Perhaps the most famous of them all was Lance Armstrong, a professional cyclist. Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles in 2012 when the US Anti-Doping Agency discovered that he had used performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career. Armstrong had previously been accused numerous times of using performance enhancing drugs but always denied claims of having used them during his career (Telegraph Sport, 2012). Later, Armstrong finally admitted to having had used human growth hormone which surely helped him increase his muscle mass and strength.

With the usage of performance enhancing drugs and in general doping in sports, come very detrimental risks. Some serious physical effects caused by the usage of anabolic steroids are prominent breasts in men and in women, baldness in men, and in women increased body hair, and for men and women, severe acne (Patterson, 2017). Another drug that comes with harmful effects are human growth hormones. These malign effects include edema, which is swelling in the arms and legs, enlargement of breasts, and muscle and joint pain (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016). In severe cases the use of performance enhancing drugs could potentially lead to the death of an athlete, as it did in the case of Lyle Alzado. Lyle Alzado was an NFL player who won a championship with the Raiders in 1984. He was diagnosed with a very rare form of brain cancer and had lost 90 pounds since then. He openly admitted to having had used both steroids and human growth hormones and he used himself as an example to warn others of the dangers of taking these performance enhancing drugs. On May 15 1992, New York times published an article that claimed Alzado said that in college he has started using steroids and became so addicted that he continuously kept using steroids even until after his retirement in 1986 and never had doubt about it. Alzado was 43 years old when he died of complications from brain cancer and the brain cancer is believed to have been an effect of having abused steroids and other performance enhancing drugs for so many years (Mcg, 1992). Many athletes fall into temptation performance enhancing drugs to improve their athletic performance and body appearance without being aware of the long term results. The physical side effects of using performance enhancing drugs can be very devastating in the long run. Some of these long term side effects include baldness, heart and liver damage, stunted growth in adolescents and, dizziness, and rashes. A study done by physiologists from the University of Oslo in Norway suggest the boost given by substances to the body could last for decades. They investigated the outcomes that anabolic steroids have on mice and data exhibits that these anabolic steroids seem to give muscles a type of memory that permits them to size up rapidly when stressed even long after they’ve been withdrawn. According to Tim De Chant from PBS, they discovered that after three months of no longer being given the drugs, the mice’s muscles expanded by about 30% after exercising for six days. A different group of controlled mice saw development of about 6% in the same span of time (De Chant, 2014). This could be an additional temptation for athlete’s looking to enhance their performance.

Countless athletes have been caught using performance enhancing drugs. Most of their reasons being to amplify their athletic endurance and gain a competitive edge in order to obtain whatever award they are striving to get. The physical benefits of performance enhancing drugs can be very tempting to professional athletes or just athletes in general but the risks could be a deal breaker. The competitive edge gained by using performance enhancing drugs could potentially end up having a long term result that would not end well. In the end, performance enhancing drugs have both beneficial results and harmful results, as well as long term results. It is completely up to the athlete whether or not they want to risk their bodies in order to achieve a competitive edge in the sports industry, while also knowing they could get caught and lose it all, including their life in extreme cases.

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