Over time, the consensus has been that most professional athletes and players compete without the use of performance-enhancing drugs. According to studies, some athletes misuse drugs that are intended for legitimate medical purposes to gain an unfair advantage through the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), also known as performance-enhancing substances. A wide range of these drugs is used to alter body composition, which affects a person’s overall performance because these drugs enhance any activity done by an individual. PEDs are classified in various ways, with each drug having a unique effect on the body. The examples include; Blood boosters that enhance the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity beyond the natural ability, and athletes commonly use it because of the high tolerance nature of the sport. Ergogenic acids (also called athletic performance –enhancing drugs) are drugs that have effects on overall physical performance. Some of the drugs in this category boost power output significantly and delay the outset of feeling fatigued for example amphetamine while a supplement such as Creatine intensifies exercise capacity. Stimulants increase athletic performance by improving muscle strength. Nevertheless, in my opinion, there should be a ban on the use of these drugs and supplements among professional athletes because of the short and long-term side effects associated with their inappropriate and consistent usage.
Harmful Effects of Performance Enhancing Drugs
Blood doping which usually entails the exploitation of some substances plus techniques to raise the number of red blood cells in the body hence increase oxygen transportation is a technique which is primarily used to help patients who have experienced a massive loss of blood maybe through accidents, surgical procedures or anemia. Methods of doping include via blood transfusions and use of synthetic carriers of oxygen. Some professional athletes may use this procedure to improve muscle endurance during sporting activities. However, its prolonged usage for purposes other than the intended one may have severe physiological effects such as stroke, excessive blood clotting, increased blood pressure and too much stress on the heart. Use of contaminated needles increases the risk of contracting HIV and Hepatitis.
Cannabinoids (marijuana) is another performance enhancing substance, commonly used by athletes to boost their performance but its misuse poses harmful effects including; accelerated heart rate and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Marijuana usage among athletes for more prolonged periods causes reduced coordination and reflex reactions, reduced concentration ability, increased risk of respiratory infections and lung cancer as well as a twisted sense of time.
Some athletes use narcotics whose prime purpose when taken in small doses is to relieve pain, but they misuse it by taking large doses to give psychological revitalization and a sensation of exhilaration which has harmful effects to the body. Narcotics cause decreased heart rate which increases the risks of getting a heart attack and increases nosebleeds. With continuous usage, it results in high physical and psychological dependence which causes addiction, and an individual is unable to perform without taking the drug. Moreover, one may have recurrent bouts of nausea and vomiting alongside increased pain margin and loss of ability to recognize injury.
Stimulants category of drugs is also commonly misused by athletes in a bid to stimulate muscle action and general body activity, but it is abused hence it causes long-term effects which include a high risk of stroke, heart attacks, and cardiac arrests. An athlete who continually uses narcotics may show excellent performance but with unlimited usage comes addiction, dependence and unexplained anxiety. Narcotics also affect sleep which leads to insomnia and rapid weight loss, dehydration and tremors.
Diuretics, on the other hand, should be used purposely for treating kidney problems and hypertension but when taken minus appropriate medical supervision, diuretics can cause massive depletion of Potassium levels in the body hence interfering with cellular processes, causing considerable drops in blood pressure, loss of body coordination and balance. High concentration of diuretics in the blood causes dizziness, constant muscle tears or cramps, joint pains, fainting as well as tendon injuries which may hinder an athlete’s participation in athletics (Savulescu et al, 300).
Beta-2 agonists are compounds which ideally, should be used to treat respiratory problems but research shows its increased usage by athletes because of the performance-boosting properties when permanently high levels are present in the blood system. However, these compounds cause an increase in the risk of getting mood disturbances which include depression and nervousness alongside migraines, headaches, sweating, and palpitations. Unstable mood often leads to an unreasonable risk of hostile, aggressive acts which may cause harm to a person or others.
Anabolic agents for example testosterone which should be used mainly for treating some forms of impotence but some athletes prefer to use it in a bid to improve their performance in sports. Excessive use of this substance may cause male baldness and liver damage. Its usage has psychological effects too amongst them; increased sexual appetite which can often lead to unusual sexual behavior and withdrawal from its usage can lead to severe depression which may advance to committing suicide in some cases. In several instances, men can become impotent and experience shrinkage of testicles as well as sperm production reduction. Men can also have a lot of hormonal imbalance, resulting in the development of breast tissue. Females, on the contrary, may have abnormal menstrual cycles and breast development may stop. Deepening of the voice and growth of facial hair are also effects of abusing anabolic agents.
Peptide hormones have fewer prospects of enhancing performance, but they have shown potential therapeutic effects which athletes prefer especially with high concentrations of these substances in the body. Nonetheless, the usage of these hormones and other related hormones have effects such as hypertension, strokes, anemia which may cause cancer of the blood, thyroid problems, pulmonary embolism which causes severe respiratory ailments. Intake of the substances also reduces the effectiveness of the immune system which ultimately leads to poor generalized body health.
In as much as performance enhancing drugs possess many harmful effects, they also have their positive impacts which include; advanced effectiveness of training which is particularly important for athletes whose sports demand rigorous training. Confidence, self-satisfaction and feelings of positivity are usually boosted whenever an athlete uses these drugs hence they tend to show satisfactory performances in the sports. Moreover, they gain overall body weight and have improved strength which is a necessity for athletics which is an energy-involving kind of competition (Brand et al, 7-50). Increase in muscle mass, muscle leanness and muscle definition is a guarantee to athletes who use PEDs, and this serves as a morale booster and builds self-esteem hence improving the individual’s performance. In addition to that, athletes increase the effectiveness of training sessions as they have more energy, aggressiveness, and vigor. When taken in considerable amounts, these drugs and supplements play a significant role in improving the outcome of athletic matches and warrants almost automatic victory to the users as they have more agility and aggressiveness. Notwithstanding, the harmful effects of performance enhancers should be considered to ensure the decision made is an informed one.
Despite the performance-enhancing drugs possessing significant short-term benefits, the long-term side effects outdo any benefits which may result from the use of PEDs. According to athletes, getting the fastest solution is the ultimatum no wonder the use of such drugs has been on the rise without people minding how adverse the effects of such substances can get. Several factors have influenced the use of these performance enhancers also known as doping. For instance, young athletes may decide to indulge in using them to cope up with insecurities or pessimistic body image issues, pressure and influence from friends and the urge to fit in or merely due to emulation of other excellent performers whom they have seen use such drugs. Despite The International Olympic Committee placing a ban on the use of performance enhancing drugs, their use is still on the rise because of the intense rivalry to improve athletic capabilities and be the best (Brand et al, 49). As an athlete, before choosing to use these drugs, one should weigh out the risks involved against the benefits and make a suitable decision. In most cases nonetheless, it is advisable to keep off from using these drugs and instead, use natural means to better abilities and performance because long-term health consequences are not worth the short-term benefits that these drugs have.
Brand, Ralf, Philipp Heck, and Matthias Ziegler. “Illegal performance enhancing drugs and doping in sport: a picture-based brief implicit association test for measuring athletes’ attitudes.” Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy9.1 (2014): 7.
Savulescu, Julian, Leon Creaney, and Anna Vondy. “Should athletes be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs?.” BMJ 347 (2013): f6150.
Pope Jr, Harrison G., et al. “Adverse health consequences of performance-enhancing drugs: an Endocrine Society scientific statement.” Endocrine reviews 35.3 (2013): 341-375.