Radley Balko , a senior editor and investigative journalist for Reason magazine, says: "So what is this debate really all about? I'd suggest it's about paternalism, and it's about control. We have a full-blown moral panic on our hands here, and it's over a set of substances that, for whatever reason, has attracted the ire of the people who have made it their job to tell us what is and isn't good for us.
Our society has an oddly schizophrenic relationship with pharmaceuticals and medical technology. If something could be said to be natural, we tend to be OK with it. If it's lab-made or synthetic, we tend to be leery. But even synthetic drugs and man-made technology seem to be OK if the aim is to make sick people better or broken people whole again. Norman Fost , professor of pediatrics and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, says: "I ask you in the audience to quickly name, in your own minds, a single elite athlete who's had a stroke or a heart attack while playing sports.
It's hard to come up with one. Anabolic steroids do have undesirable side effects: acne, baldness, voice changes But sport itself is far more dangerous, and we don't prohibit it. The number of deaths from playing professional football and college football are 50 to times higher than even the wild exaggerations about steroids. More people have died playing baseball than have died of steroid use. Julian Savulescu , professor of practical ethics at the University of Oxford, says: "To say that we should reduce drugs in sport or eliminate them because they increase performance, is simply like saying that we should eliminate alcohol from parties because it increases sociability.
So our proposal is that we allow a modest approach. Our proposal is enforceable, it frees up the limited resources to focus on drugs that may be affecting children, which we grant should not have access to drugs As we've argued, performance enhancement is not against the spirit of sport, it's been a part of sport through its whole history, and to be human is to be better, or at least to try to be better.
George Michael , a sportscaster and creator of the program Sports Machine , says: "I am not willing to pay the price for legalizing steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, because I've seen too often what it can do. I don't want to go to the cemetery and tell all the athletes who are dead there, 'Hey guys, soon you'll have a lot more of your friends coming, because we're going to legalize this stuff. They wouldn't hear the news. Because they're all dead.
Dale Murphy , a former Major League Baseball outfielder who started the iWon't Cheat Foundation to help rid sports of drugs, says: "We need better testing, harsher punishments and people will decide not to get involved with performance-enhancing drugs. Gambling in baseball is the perfect example. The culture of professional baseball players is the one thing they know, and one thing they learn from the minute they sign a professional contract, is that if you gamble on the game in any way, shape or form, your career will be over.
Richard Pound , chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency and a partner in the Canadian law firm Stikeman Elliott, says: "The use of performance-enhancing drugs is not accidental; it is planned and deliberate with the sole objective of getting an unfair advantage. I don't want my kids, or your kids, or anybody's kids to have to turn themselves into chemical stockpiles just because there are cheaters out there who don't care what they promised when they started to participate.
I don't want my kids in the hands of a coach who would encourage, condone or allow the use of drugs among his or her athletes. The Intelligence Squared U. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player. NPR Shop. A panel of experts debates whether performance-enhancing drugs should be allowed in competitive sports. One group says efforts to ban drugs from sports is bound to fail. Anabolic steroids help build muscle tissue and increase body mass by acting like the body's natural male hormone, testosterone.
However, steroids cannot improve an athlete's agility or skill. Many factors determine athletic ability, including genetics, body size, age, sex, diet and how hard the athlete trains. Anabolic steroids are a chemical derivative of testosterone, the "male sex hormone. But, because of their potentially serious side effects, they must be prescribed and used only under close medical supervision. Under both federal and New York State Law, anabolic steroids may only be prescribed by an authorized prescriber after a face-to-face examination of a patient.
The number of athletes who abuse anabolic steroids is unknown. The NFL tests its athletes for illicit use. Players who test positive face suspension and, upon testing positive a second time, are expelled from the League. MLB players are tested once a year, and if they test positive they can be suspended for up to ten days. If a player tests positive after the first test, they can be suspended without pay for up to one year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine condemn the use of anabolic steroids for enhancement of sports performance or body building. Believing that anabolic steroids can improve competitiveness and performance, uninformed or misguided athletes, sometimes encouraged by coaches or parents, abuse these drugs to build lean muscle mass, promote aggressiveness, and increase body weight.
This is called "stacking. What they don't know, or choose to ignore, is the damage to the body that abuse of these drugs can cause. Over the counter dietary supplements, such as creatine, should be used with caution. Manufacturers claim they can build muscles and improve strength without the side effects of steroids. Taken in small doses, nutritional supplements may not be harmful. Before taking any over-the-counter nutritional supplements or adding them to your regimen, talk with your doctor.
When taken in large doses and combined with alcohol or aspirin, or when combined with stimulents such as caffeine or ephedrine, nutritional supplements may become dangerous. Creatine can cause short-term cramping and diarrhea. While less is known about long-term use, creatine has been linked to muscle injury and kidney problems.
Creatine and other dietary supplements are gaining popularity. Manufacturers claim they can build muscles, and improve strength and stamina, without the side effects of steroids. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration FDA and are not held to the same strict standards as drugs. If abused, they can have harmful effects. New York State law bans the sale of dietary supplements containing the stimulent ephedra.
When improperly used, anabolic steroids can cause serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease; liver damage and cancers; and, stroke and blood clots. Other side effects of steroids include: nausea and vomiting, increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries, headaches, aching joints, muscle cramps, diarrhea, sleep problems and severe acne. While the total impact of anabolic steroid abuse is not known, health care providers have observed the following problems:.
Because anabolic steroids are derived from testosterone, they can have profound effects on the hormone levels of both male and female abusers. Changes in the male reproductive system are often reversible, if anabolic steroids have not been abused for a long period of time. Unfortunately, some of the changes in women are NOT reversible.
Prolonged abuse of anabolic steroids very often results in physical addiction. Abusers must undergo a strict, medically-supervised withdrawal program. Sometimes, athletes who use anabolic steroids may share the needles, syringes or other equipment they use to inject these drugs.
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