One of the hottest topics on the news recently has been steroid use by athletes. From talk radio to the best seller list to the Senate floor, the controversy has only grown during the 2006 baseball season, as Barry Bonds continues his quest to move right on past Babe Ruth and break Hank Aaron’s home run record.
Although Bonds’ case has certainly attracted the most publicity, the issue is definitely not confined to baseball. The best-selling book “Game of Shadows” was written by two reporters who had spent months investigating top athletes from a variety of sports, including Olympians like track star Marion Jones. While it does focus extensively on Bonds, this meticulously researched bestseller also describes in detail how many other elite sports figures were able to enhance themselves with illegal drugs while evading detection. (Fainaru-Wada)
It would be foolhardy to dismiss this problem as a minor one, or to pretend that with enough negative publicity and public condemnation, it will just go away on its own. The entire sports community needs to take a clear, consistent and proactive approach to eliminating steroid use completely from all forms of competitive sports.
Let’s consider why this is so important by taking a look at the history of steroids and their negative effects, both physical and otherwise. We will also take into account how negative public perception has tarnished the reputation of many sports.
What are steroids? Those most commonly used by sports figures fall into the category of “anabolic steroids” and are defined by Merriam-Webster as:
“ …any of a group of usually synthetic steroid hormones that increase constructive metabolism and are sometimes abused by athletes in training to increase temporarily the size of their muscles.”
Steroids are nothing new in the world of sports, though the drugs have become increasingly sophisticated with time. The synthesis of testosterone was first achieved in 1930s Nazi Germany, but the initial discovery was greeted with indifference Over the next few decades, however, athletes and their coaches (especially bodybuilders) began to realize and covet the performance enhancing qualities of these drugs. (Wikipedia)
During the 1950s, and at the 1952 Olympic games in particular, Americans were blown away by the power of their Russian and European competitors. It did not take American doctors long to realize that the “unnatural” performance of these athletes was just that. These bodybuilders and wrestlers had been given steroids in the form of synthetic testosterone.
U.S. doctors scrambled to come up with a drug that with do the same for American athletes, and by the late 1950s they had succeeded in bringing such a drug to the market, known as Dianabol. It was the first of many. (Wikipedia)
Whatever their intentions, these early pioneers in the field of steroid development did not realize the Pandora’s box they had opened, and they certainly did not realize that the...