Performance Enhancing Drugs

The Long Term Effects of Using PEDs


Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) refer to the various substances that boost physical capabilities of a person. PEDs are widely used by the body builders, but the most notorious users are athletes. The use of performance-enhancing drugs debuted in 1990s and had manifested itself in the world of sports since then. The first incidence of PEDs’ use in sports was during the 1954 Russian Olympics, when it was called anabolic steroid. Before then, the level of performance was gauged purely on one’s commitment to training. During the Olympic Games of 1954, an impressive performance posted by one of the teams did not escape the attention of other countries, notably America and Germany. Thereafter, the issue became widely popular as leading sports powerhouses competed to outdo each other by use of performance-enhancing drugs. The companies that had emerged to satisfy this new-found demand have since developed a number of PEDs as they are known to us today (Humphreys & Paxton, 2004).

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The use of performance-enhancing drugs has been a topic in many debates. People are torn between accepting PEDs’ use for the excitement it brings to sport and rejecting it for its long term health complications. Proponents of its use argue that illegalizing it in sports is a “witch hunt” on those sportsmen that are keen on improving the spirit of completion. Their main argument is that PEDs are only there to complement other support facilities like better training gear or a bigger stadium. Although this may sound appealing, it is important to mention the fact that life is not about excitement only. There are other vital factors to take into consideration before allowing the use of PEDs in sport. For instance, the cost of its use in the long run lies in terms of health of the athletes and their ability to enjoy a comfortable life after sports. Therefore, it is imperative that all the stakeholders in the world of sports always stay in touch with the effects that their decisions will have on the future of athletes. They should not draw their motivation from the need to bring out larger than life performance by PED laden athletes yet failing to consider their health and comfort.

Humans have a right to make their own decisions. This includes making a choice either to use PEDs or not. However, this does not mean that society should stand still as the future of its athletes and the beauty of sports get eroded by substance abuse. It is important to note that the joy of seeing an athlete sprint the last yards of a marathon is tremendously reduced when reality shows that it is the substance in his body that works, not the athlete himself. Rights aside, it is myopic to allow the use of harmful substances in the name of freedom to choose. It is prudent to forego the excitement that PEDs give and, in its place, safe the right to live a comfortable and dignified future. The absence of PEDs will not mean the end of sports or a good physique. Performance can still be enhanced through natural exercises with zero side effects. Therefore, the debate on whether PEDs are useful should be approached with a sober mind that can see the future and plan for it in the present, the mind that is not afraid to point out the flaws of a perfectly branded product in the name of Performance Enhancing Drugs (Yesalis & Cowart, 1998).

Therefore, the horrendous long term effects of PEDs cannot be justified by its short term benefits. It should be noted that the parameters used to determine whether long term use of PEDs have negative effects or not are different. For instance, those who look at it from an economic angle will see no long term dangers in using PEDs. This is because Performance Enhancing Drugs is a $2 billion dollar industry in the United States alone. These benefits trickle down to other sectors of the global economy, as well. Thus, economic enthusiasts are too thrilled by impressive capital benefits to see the social havoc that Performance Enhancing Drugs mete on the American public. For instance, studies show that the team revenues grew from about $140 million dollars in the pre PED era to a record $332 million dollars in the steroid era of 2000s (Grossman, Kimsey, Moreen, & Owings, 2005). On the other hand, conscious individuals are not easily swayed by impressive growths at the expense of social values that make up the social fabrics of society. Thus, to a larger extent, the use of PEDs has negative effects in the long run which cannot be compensated by the short term benefits. The other short term benefits of PED use bonder on social aspects of life. These are: 

  • Social status that comes with an athletic body. Society places high value on a good body. The attention that one gets, especially from women (if the user is a man), is enormous
  • Confidence. Steroids make a user have big muscles. This is usually perceived as being powerful and thus brave in a way.
  • Attention. Steroids allow performing better than the others. This makes such an athlete stand out and most likely become the most sought after professional.

Some of the prominent consequences of long term steroid use are discussed below. This paper aims at empowering people who are tempted to use PEDs because of their short term benefits to shun them after learning the long-term dangers. It is hopeful that the society will come to terms with the fact that steroids and other PEDs post danger to life performance and will ultimately hamper the athlete’s ability to enjoy the benefits of such achievements in the long run (Berning, Adams, & Stamford, 2004).

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). These are drugs aimed at enhancing testosterone activity in the organism. It catalyzes and boosts muscle synthesis in the body. It is used by athletes whose sports require large muscle masses. Such sports include; sprints, weight lifting and boxing. Human growth hormone (HGH) is the other steroid that has the same effect as Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid. Their long term effects include the following:

  • Since it mimics the actions of testosterone, its prominent effects are accelerated Gynecomastia (commonly known as enlarged breast tissue) and high cholesterol levels in the body.
  • Testicular atrophy or the shrinking of testicles in layman’s language. 
  • Liver complications as the liver attempts to breakdown high cholesterol in the body.
  • Male balding.
  • Acne.

Erythroprotein (EPO). This is a steroid based on the glycoprotein principle. When used, it aids in the production and distribution of red blood cells. This drug is ideal for endurance oriented sports like marathon and cycling. The short term effect of it is improved oxygen circulation in the body that results into endurance needed for long races and cycling. The long term effects are fatal, however. This is because it distorts the ratio of plasma to blood cells resulting in a highly viscous blood that requires more heart activity to circulate. Since heart activity is not always high during sleep, many athletes who use it are at a risk of dying in their sleep due to blood clots. In fact, studies show that many cyclists have died in their sleep as a result of long term use of this drug (Yesalis & Cowart, 1998). This brings to question the judgment that one employs in using a substance that will rush him to success yet be a reason for one to live a terrible life thereafter.

Androstenedione. This refers to a drug that is only available under prescription. It is a controlled substance that allows the muscles to recover quickly from injury or tedious activities. Athletes use it to increase the length of training and muscle recovery. It is mainly illegal to use it for non-medicinal purposes. However, body builders easily get it from black markets. Its long term effects are; Acne, diminished sperm production and enlargement of breast tissue in men. On the side of women, the major side effect is accelerated growth of masculine characteristics like deep voice.

In conclusion, the short term benefits of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS) and other classes of Performance Enhancing Drugs like Stimulants, Insulin, Human growth hormone (HGH), erythropoietin (EPO) cannot pass for a good enough reason to use Performance Enhancing Drugs. This is because the long term effect of their use is way too costly both during and after professional life. Although the myopic benefits include improved power and energy in such sports that require powerful muscle build up, this is, however, replaced by the above mentioned negative effects. Thus, long term use of PEDs greatly harms the body, health and capabilities of an athlete. This will definitely hamper the chances of a normal life in the long run.

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