Performance-Enhancing Drugs Essay

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Performance enhancing drugs have been a bane in the field of sports for a very long time, as athletes have tried to gain unfair advantage through its use, and suffered due to the side effects. Two factors have led to a belief that the use of performance enhancing drugs is becoming widespread among sportsmen. The first factor is the developments in the field of science that have led to the finding of a larger number of performance enhancing drugs.

The second factor has been the dramatic increase in the financial rewards that accrue to successful sportsmen, and hence the incentive to attempt to use any means to succeed. Measures have been introduced to discourage the use of performance enhancing drugs in the field of sports, but anecdotal evidence suggests that these measures have in no way reduced the use of performance enhancing drugs in the field of sports. (Athletes and Performance-Enhancing Drugs).

Overview of Performance Enhancing Drugs: Strychnine, heroin, cocaine, and morphine have seen use as performance enhancing drugs, but probably was more harmful than in providing an enhancement of performance. During the Second World War amphetamines were used widely by soldiers to avoid fatigue, due to the toll of a long war on their physical capabilities, and as such represents the first use of performance enhancing drugs in the form of stimulants. (Athletes and Performance-Enhancing Drugs). The stimulant group of performance enhancing drugs includes amphetamines, caffeine, B-agonists, phenylpropanolamine, and ephedrine.

Stimulants work on the Central Nervous System, and speeds up certain parts of the brain and body. This capacity of the stimulants makes it useful to sportsmen like athletes and weight lifters, as it quickens reflexes, improves confidence, and reduces an athletes sense of fatigue. The side effects due to the use of the stimulants include anxiety and psychosis. The anabolic-androgenic steroids makes up the next group of performance enhancing drugs, and include stanozolol, methanedienone, nandrolone, clostebol, oxandrolone, and testosterone.

Anabolic steroids are the synthetic equivalents of testosterone, which is the naturally occurring male hormone. Chemical modifications enhance the muscle building capabilities, and reduce the unwanted androgenic effects of the drug. Anabolic steroids provide the benefits of increased muscle bulk, and the increased ability to perform high intensity physical training. There are several side effects that come from the misuse of anabolic steroids, and the more severe side effects include, faulty sperm production, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and sudden death.

The additional problem with this class of performance enhancing drugs is that non-elite athletes use them too, in their attempts to build up their muscular looks, and increase their physical capacities. Narcotic analgesics like morphine, pethidine, buprenorphine, methadone, pentazocine, dextropropoxyphene, dextromoramide, and diamorphine are also used to enhance performance, because of the increased pain threshold and euphoria that result from their use. The latest entry into the performance enhancing drugs has been the peptide and glycopeptide hormones with erythropoietin most commonly used.

Recombinant human erythropoietin was made available through scientific advancements for the purpose of treating anemia. The significant factor with erythropoietin is that it cannot be distinguished from the natural kidney hormone. By infusing recombinant human erythropoietin, or through subcutaneous injections of recombinant human erythropoietin, it is possible to stimulate sustained erythropoiesis, whereby the concentration of red blood corpuscles in the individual is elevated over extended periods of time.

The effect is similar to training at high altitudes, and the blood profile of the athlete after infusion of recombinant human erythropoietin could appear to be similar to that of an athlete after training at elevated altitudes. There are very serious side effects associated with excessive use of recombinant human erythropoietin, which includes elevated hemoconcentration and blood viscosity that could lead to clotting of the blood, and thrombus formation in the blood vessels, and sudden death. (Sherry, E. , & Wilson, F. S. , 1998).

Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in the Field of Sports: The use of performance enhancing drugs in the field of sports makes media headlines with a frequency that is suggestive of the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs in the different varieties of sports activities, with the popularity of the activity or the worldwide focus of attention on the event having an impact. In recent times the United States of America has been rocked by the controversy over the Barry Bonds issue, and the use of performance enhancing drug issue in baseball. (Verducci, T. , 2006).

The desire to win at any costs is what pushes sportsmen into the use of performance enhancing drugs. The first recorded use of performance enhancing drugs in the Olympics was as early as the Third Olympiad, when Thomas Hicks won the marathon after receiving an injection of strychnine during the race. Anabolic steroids made their appearance at the Olympics in the 1948 Olympic games. In the 1976 Olympic games, the East German team won eleven out of the thirteen Olympic events in swimming. They subsequently sued their government for giving them anabolic steroids to enhance their performance.

In a survey conducted in 1992, it was found that a majority of the athletes participating in the Olympic games believed that most successful athletes were using performance-enhancing drugs. (Savelescu, J. , Foddy, B. , & Clayton, M. , 2004). The Olympic games of 2004 saw many a scandal on the use of performance enhancing drugs and many high profile athletes were found to have used performance-enhancing drugs for their success at the Games. One of the findings in these Games was the popular use of the designer steroid called tetrahydrogestrinine.

The motive for this continuing use of performance enhancing drugs, despite the known detrimental effects to the health of the individual is the competitive nature of the sporting events, and the huge benefits that ensue as a result of success. These factors encourage individuals in the field of sports to seek any edge that they can over their rivals, and more so when newer and more powerful performance enhancing drugs become available, and the belief that the playing field is no longer a level one. (McManus, D. 2004).

Restrictions on use of Performance Enhancing Drugs: Restrictions on the use of performance enhancing drugs in the field of sports are on the basis of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). As per WADA any substance or method is on the list of Prohibited Substances and Methods, if it meets any two of the following criteria: ¢ Medical or other scientific evidence that the substance or method has the potential to enhance sports performance. ¢ Represents and actual or potential health risk to the athlete.

Use of the substance or method violates the spirit of sport as described in the WADA code. In addition to this WADA includes from time to time substances or methods, which have been determined on the basis of scientific or medical evidence to have the potential to mask the use of any other prohibited substances and methods. (Meltzer, S. , & Fuller, C. , 2005). Urine samples are normally used to detect the use of performance enhancing drugs. The concentration of the drug in the urine is the marker for the use of performance enhancing drugs.

There is a cut-off level for concentration levels of all substances in the urine of an individual, and concentration levels above this are taken to imply the use of performance enhancing drugs, for which the athlete can be banned from participating in the sport for a period of time. To escape from detection, individuals in the sports field, attempt to mask the use of performance enhancing drugs by using masking agents like probenecid.

To prevent the use of masking agents, these substances are also banned, even though they have no performance enhancing capabilities. Sherry, E. , & Wilson, F. S. , 1998). Rationale for the Restrictions on the Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs: The rationale behind banning individuals in the sports field that indulge the use of performance enhancing drugs is that it is against the ethics of both sports and medicine. Performance enhancing drugs distorts this. From the medical point of view the use of drugs to enhance performance in the field of sports itself is wrong, as these substances were made available to reduce the impact of conditions and diseases of the sick.

In addition the use of performance enhancing drugs has a negative impact on the health of the individual in the long run. The ethics as far as sports is concerned is that there should be a level playing field, and the sport should be fair to all. Performance enhancing drugs violate the spirit of sport, and so they need to be banned. In the words of WADA, the spirit of sport is the celebration of the human spirit, body, and mind, and is characterized by the following values:

¢ ethics, fair play and honesty ¢ health ¢ excellence in performance character and education ¢ fun and joy ¢ teamwork ¢ dedication and respect for rules and laws ¢ respect for self and other participants ¢ courage ¢ community and solidarity. (Savelescu, J. , Foddy, B. , & Clayton, M. , 2004). The Counter View: The case of nutritional supplements that have the capabilities of enhancing performance, but is kept out of this purview of spirit of sport is the first argument. Oral creatine supplementation is well known among athletes, and has widespread use among individuals in the sports field.

Creatine supplementation is known to improve strength, and give muscle mass gains. It has its mild side effects in terms of short-term use, and the severity of side effects increase with length of use and the dosage. In addition nutritional supplements are contaminated with impurities, including banned substances. (Meltzer, S. , & Fuller, C. , 2005). Despite these facts, creatine is not banned or restricted on the grounds that it is a naturally occurring constituent of foodstuffs.

Creatine considered food, will not be banned, according to the International Olympic Committee). Sports professionals are not the only ones who indulge in performance enhancing drugs and yet they are singled out. There are musicians that suffer from performance anxiety or stage fright. Many use their own techniques to get over it, but the use of the beta-blocker propranolol to get remove stage fright and enhance their performance is known. If shooters in the field of sports use propranolol to calm their nerves, and steady their hands, they would be banned. (McManus, D. , 2004).

There commitment is also the impression that these products are available to the general public, and yet cannot be touched by a sportsperson, which is hypocritical. This sentiment is even expressed by elite sportsmen, who have never used these products. (Skier Miller wants doping to be legal). The failure of restrictions on the use of performance enhancing drugs, and the feeling of being singled out are not the arguments against the restrictions on the use of performance enhancing drugs. Sport involving human beings is unlike horse racing and dog racing, where the aim is to find the fastest horse or dog.

This has been the way of animal sport from ancient times, and has had its impact on the manner in which sports has been conducted so far in that there is an attempt to find the fastest or the strongest or the most skilled individual, but humans are not animals. They possess judgments that enable them to make their decisions on diet, training, and whether to use drugs or not. It is possible to decide what kind of competitor to be through biological manipulation, and this is being creative, and not against the spirit of sport.

In biological manipulation lies the embodiment of the spirit of the human spirit with its capacity to improve based on reason and judgment. This exercising of individual reason is but a normal human action. The difference in this would be that the winner would no longer be the one born with the best genetic potential to win, but the person with a combination of genetic potential, training psychology, and judgment. Sporting events would then cease to be expensive horse races, and become a performance that has resulted from human creativity and choice. (Savelescu, J. , Foddy, B. , & Clayton, M. , 2004).

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