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Performance enhancing drugs used in various sporting events in order to give competitors an advantage over their opponents have been involved in widespread use that can even be traced back to the first Olympic games. Ancient Greek athletes used to use many different types of medications made from herbs, wine potions, and even hallucinogens in an effort to reach maximum physical performance possible so that they could hopefully win and bring glory upon their names. Nowadays, with such massive amounts of money and big sponsorships on the line, it can definitely be hard for some athletes to feel like they can keep up with everyone on the playing field without the use of performance enhancing supplements so they decide to use them and most of them eventually get caught, this can instantly ruin an athlete’s entire career and reputation, just because of one bad choice that they felt like they had to make due to the intense competition and nature of the sport. For many people, the use of any drug that could alter or enhance an athlete’s performance should absolutely not ever be allowed on a professional playing field. To other people, it might make the events more interesting if they know that everyone is at their peak physical performance the whole time. This essay will cover the idea of performance enhancing supplements being allowed in professional sporting events and what that could look like for the future of the sport.
At the 1988 Summer Olympics held in South Korea there was a very large scandal involving the very popular Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson and his use of anabolic steroids to compete and win a gold medal. He had been training for a very long time to beat his rival, Carl Lewis, and when the Olympics came around he was able to set the new world record for the 100m dash. 3 days later it was discovered that he was using steroids and his medal and record were taken away from him with Carl Lewis receiving 1st place. Long after the Olympics however, it was found that Carl Lewis and almost every other athlete in that race had been using performance enhancing drugs at some point during their training for the olympics and also for multiple other events.This goes to show that most athletes were already aware of the fact that their competitors were all using performance enhancements and felt like they had to use them just to be able to keep up with them or else it would have been an unfair competition. It also raises many ethical questions about the use of these supplements in large competitions including the Olympics, the NHL, NFL, and NBA.
One of the most commonly used performance enhancing supplements in professional sports is anabolic steroids, these drugs come from the testosterone that is naturally produced in large amounts in males, and much smaller amounts in females. These drugs can help athletes grow much bigger muscles and have a much higher overall strength in order to give them a slight edge over their competitors so they can win. The side effects of these drugs however can be very bad for the athletes and can cause things like greatly increased blood pressure, kidney failure, heart disease, and increased aggression which is also known as “roid rage”. The athletes all know the severe risks that they are putting their bodies at and accept the risks associated with drug use in order to win, this is partially caused by the overwhelming amounts of pressure that society places on these athletes in order to be successful. Although in some cases they be dangerous, it would be very interesting if these performance enhancing supplements (specifically anabolic steroids) were not banned in athletic competition and not looked down upon. If this were the case, many athletes would take advantage of this and start using them. This would make the sports much more interesting to watch as the athletes would all be at almost peak physical condition and would be performing at their absolute best at almost all times. It wouldn’t be unfair to anyone because they are the ones who have the option of using supplements or not, it also wouldn’t be that much different than say an NBA player choosing to wear shooting sleeves or not to help them improve their game, this equipment isn’t banned from the league and can help but not everyone has to use it.
One very recent and notable example of a case involving large amounts of testosterone is what happened to the South African Olympic athlete, Caster Semenya. She is a runner and won gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics in the 800M race. The unusual part is the fact that despite being a female, she has much larger testosterone amounts in her body than everyone else, this allows her to run faster and win against almost everyone she competes against. She has been in the middle of a highly controversial starting back in 2009 where after winning a world championship, she was forced by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to take a test to make sure that she was a female. She was able to return to running after a short ban and continued to win multiple competitions before the IAAF stepped in again and this time she was forced to take testosterone lowering supplements. This understandably sparked huge amounts of controversy as she obviously was not purposely raising her testosterone levels, she just naturally had higher levels of it in her body. Many people think, that she should still be allowed to race without taking any sort of supplements because that’s just who she is, there’s nothing that she actually did to cause that. This can also be used to bring up the ethicality debate about having performance enhancing supplements being allowed in athletic competitions. If everyone who is racing against her is complaining about her having higher testosterone levels, why shouldn’t they be allowed to use supplements like anabolic steroids in order to be able to fairly compete against each other.
Performance enhancing supplements have been around for such a long time that they have almost become part of some sports whether people want it or not, a majority of athletes who use them do end up getting caught but the ones who don’t have an unfair advantage. Performance enhancing supplements should be allowed in athletic competitions in order to put every athlete on the same even playing field in order to make it fair for everyone.
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