The Effects Of Performance Enhancing Drug Use In Professional And Amateur Sports

“One of the most exciting sports stories in recent years was the attempt to break

Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. On September 8, 1998, Mark McGwire of

the St. Louis Cardinals made history by hitting his sixty-second home run,” writes

William Dudley. He also notes, “However, many people believe that McGwire’s

achievement was tarnished by a revelation some weeks earlier that he had been using

androstenedione, a compound that temporarily boosts levels of the male sex hormone

testosterone” (7). This revelation drew attention to the serious problem of performance-

enhancing drug use in professional and amateur sports. In the world of sports,

performance enhancing drugs and blood doping can cause health problems, damages to
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Some athletes take these drugs to increase their chances of winning and

making or breaking records, while others take them in order to stay competitive with

athletes who already use them. The taking of a performance-enhancing drug by an

athlete is known as doping. These drugs can be categorized into seven classes based on

their desired effects.

The first class of drugs is used by athletes to build mass and muscle strength.

Examples of such drugs are anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. Anabolic

steroids, synthetically derived from testosterone, have become one of the most commonly

used drugs in many sports. They encourage muscle growth by making new protein

through the stimulation of bone and muscle cells. The list of steroids is extensive and

includes androstenedione, stanozolol, and tetrahydrogestrinone. To quote Robert Voy,

former Chief Medical Officer for the United States Olympic Committee, “You show me

a sport where increased power, endurance, or speed can possibly benefit the athlete, and

I’ll show you a sport where [steroid] use exists” (17). Similarly, human growth hormone,

a natural protein hormone, increases muscle mass by stimulating the production of

protein and bone, as well as reduces body
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Athletes who take these drugs are risking their health,

lives, and careers because many of these side effects are serious and even fatal. Anabolic

steroids have the broadest range of side effects, which include heart and circulatory

diseases, liver damage, and increased aggressiveness and irritability. Other side effects

are, urinating pain because of prostate enlargement, baldness, and breast development in

men, as well as menstrual cycle disruption, deepened voice, and facial and bodily hair

growth in women (USADA). For example, an East German Olympic swimmer in the

1970s, Christiane Knacke-Sommer, “was given regular injections of testosterone [. . .]

without her knowledge,” and in 1998 she claimed, in a testimony against her coaches,

“that the treatments ‘destroyed [her] body and [her] mind,’ and permanently masculinized

her physique and voice” (qtd. in Haley 9). In addition, according to James Haley, Greg

Strock, a United States Olympic cycling team member in the early 1990s, “allege[d] that

coaches, without his consent, doped him with steroid injections. Strock attributes

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