Unfair Sport: Adverse Effects of Steroids or PEDs
With the Rio Olympics 2016 in full swing, the use of steroids or PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) is firmly back in the limelight. It is a well known fact that steroids have long term ill-effects on one’s health. So why do athletes use them?
The use of performance enhancing substances in sports and at the Olympics has existed since its inception in ancient Greece. Athletes were believed to drink magic potions and eat exotic meats to enhance their performance. In modern times, this has evolved to the use of chemically produced hormones and drugs.
Steroids are drugs that help build muscle strength rapidly. Anabolic steroids are basically a synthetic version of testosterone, a hormone produced by the body naturally. Since these drugs help build muscle faster, athletes can enhance their performance and recover faster in case of injuries or sprains.
But is it fair sport to use drugs? Why would a person who has worked hard all his life like to participate in a race with another competitor who has used artificial chemicals to make up for hard work? It is absolutely against the spirit of sport!
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) outlines the following values as part of the spirit of sport code:
- Ethics, fair play and honesty
- Excellence in performance
- Character and education
- Fun and joy
- Dedication and commitment
- Respect of rules and laws
- Respect for self and other participants
- Community and solidarity
The use of drugs is against all the above tenets of fair play (Source).
Apart from being contradictory to all that the Olympics or any sport is about, drugs can lead to a number of long-term health problems which include:
- Physical side effects – Damage to kidney & liver, increased blood pressure, weak immune system, decreased joint flexibility
- Effects on men – Shrunken testicles, lowered sperm count, breast enlargement and sexual problems
- Effects on women – Abnormal menstrual periods, infertility, excessive body or facial hair growth
- Effects on teens – prevents further growth, results in short stature
- Psychological effects – Aggression, depression, paranoia, mood swings and, in certain cases, delusions
The side effects caused by steroid abuse can be permanent and life-threatening. Also, the steroid injections can increase the risk of hepatitis and AIDS.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has initiated a campaign against drug abuse which led to the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). While WADA tries its best to ensure a drug-free Olympics, we can hope that the athletes play safe and be true to the spirit of sport.