Steroids continue to taint sports world

An out-of-the-park home run; a world-record sprint; a perfect juke and a break-away run for the touchdown. Athletes have been raising the bar in competition since the creation of sports, but not all athletes are doing it by the rules. So is a world record still a world record if achieved by someone who uses steroids?

“It has been an issue since the creation of steroids,” said junior John Meyer. “As the world of sports becomes more competitive, athletes are pushed further and further to perform better, and unfortunately this sometimes leads to using drugs.”

Though the issue is as old as steroids themselves, some new cases have been popping into the media from some well-known names in sports.  Major league baseball player Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroid use back in 2003. “It was one of those pressure situations where hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line and the player tries to bring his best case to the field,” said Fairmont Athletic Director Brian Donoher.

Rodriguez was one of 104 baseball players who failed a steroid test in 2003. “If players are good enough to become professional, they shouldn’t have to use steroids,” said freshman Taylor Gruhl. “If they do decide to use them, they are only using them for themselves to get a one-up on the competition.”

Steroid use not only affects professionals, the problem has been turning up in non-professional sports, too. “It mostly deals with the major leagues, but it does trickle down throughout most organized sports,” said Donoher. “We have low statistics for steroid users in our state because of the education we provide young athletes with and the proper coaching they receive.”

Using steroids is illegal and dangerous, but some athletes still decide to take them. “I don’t know why a player would use them,” said Donoher. “With all the consequences the athlete could receive and what it could do to your body, I couldn’t understand why they would still use it.”

Last year at the Beijing Olympics, more than 4,500 drug screenings took place, a 25 percent increase from the past. Six athletes tested positive for steroid use or other banned substances, including U.S. swimmer Jessica Hardy, who failed the test due to Clenbuterol, a banned substance used as a weight loss drug.

Many athletes using steroids may feel in their best shape of their lives and be playing their best as well, but the negative side effects will eventually cause severe harm.

“Not only do steroids affect performance, they also do a lot of damage to the body,” said Meyer. “Take steroids for a few months and you can bet you won’t be the same person afterward.”

Side effects range from sexual dysfunctions to drastic changes in physical appearance. Acne, rapid weight gain, clotting disorders, premature heart attack and stroke, raised cholesterol levels, tendon weakness and a generally bloated appearance are common side effects for long-term users.

It also affects the mental state, causing irritability, depression and “roid rage,” a condition where the steroid user feels violent, uncontrollable and sometimes unexplainable rage as a direct result of steroid use.

Although it is clear that illicit use of steroids for performance enhancement is wrong, and obviously against the rules, how to deal with a user is a more debated concept.

“Currently in Major League Baseball, you receive a 50-game suspension for steroids,” said Gruhl. “This is not a sufficient punishment, and isn’t doing much of anything to prevent the players from using. More frequent drug testing and much longer suspension times should be enforced to keep the problem under control.”

Donoher believes the policies put in place by the major leagues are working. “I think their programs are active, so I don’t think the government should be getting involved. Each organization, whether it be football, baseball, track or any other sport, should police their own units, and they’ve all seen the problem blow up, so they know how to take the appropriate actions.”

Whatever the case may be, steroid use is affecting scores and competition – and distorting records around the world. “It’s not fair at all for a player of any sport to be using steroids,” Gruhl said. “It gives the user a clear advantage against players who play by the rules, which is ruining sports.”