Performance enhancers come in various forms like stimulants, over-the-counter painkillers and sedatives. Athletes usually take performance enhancers to excel in competition and give themselves a shortcut in boosting their efforts.
Anabolic steroids and other forms of performance enhancers are used for various reasons athletes may need like to build mass and muscle strength, mask pain, reduce weight or just stimulate the body. Athletes may also misuse these drugs to relax, cope with stress or boost their own confidence at the risk of their health and athletic careers.
According to natural bodybuilder and Gold’s Gym member Rahsan Davis, the response from steroids may be quick but the long-term effects aren’t good for the body.
“First of all, it’s unhealthy,” Davis said. “Studies haven’t been consistent with expressing if these drugs help the body or tear the body down. Those drugs don’t really affect you until later on down the line. People don’t think about what happens to the body when you’re 40 or 50 years old.”
Javier Wallace, 21, from Austin, Texas, believes that it may be a competitive edge, but the risk outweighs the rewards.
“I think people should work with what they have because all you’re doing is cheating yourself and the competition,” the offensive guard for the FAMU football team said. “To tell you the truth, there is no substitute for hard work and determination.”
Some athletes might believe that winning at all costs includes taking performance enhancers, but the short-term benefits are followed by risks that athletes should learn about before use. Through research, many athletes may find that the benefits are not worth the problems.
According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, problems that can occur with the misusage of some performance enhancing drugs for men are the development of prominent breasts, infertility, baldness and shrunken testicles.
Women may develop a deeper voice, an enlarged clitoris increased body hair and baldness. Men and women may both experience severe acne, aggressive behaviors (rage or violence), liver abnormalities and tumors, inhibited growth and development, drug dependency, psychiatric disorders such as depression and infections and diseases such as HIV or hepatitis if you’re injecting the drugs, as stated on the site.
“I don’t really think there is a need for these drugs,” tennis coach Nikki Goldthreate said. “I don’t think student athletes should take it because of the long term effects. You would be better off consistently working hard instead of cheating yourself.”
Taking performance enhancement drugs is prohibited by most sports organizations and some, like anabolic steroids, are illegal.
The U.S. has pushed most of the illegal steroid industry into the black market in the past 20 years with effective law enforcement.
According to mayoclinic.com, this poses additional health risks because the drugs are made in other countries and smuggled, which means they aren’t subject to government safety standards and could be impure or mislabeled.