Should athletes be allowed to take performance enhancing drugs?
In sports, the competitive drive to win can be very intensive between athletes. Winning in the game usually brings rewards to athletes both financially and psychologically. Such temptations and the consecutive pressures faced by athletes to excel in the sporting events, attempts to achieve a rival edge especially when the application of performance enhancing drugs by athletes in sports activities has becoming a new trend and relatively common. Performance enhancing drugs are used so athletes could achieve better results with least efforts, even as their health and their athletic careers will be placed in danger. That explains why athletes, sports people and body builders turn to performanc enhancing drugs.
What are performance enhancing drugs?
The use of performance enhancing drugs by athletes has become a common phenomenon since 1960s. But what are performance-enhancing drugs? Performance enhancing drugs are actually chemical substances that can be consumed in the forms of injection, ingestion, inhalation or application to the skin directly to enhance athletic performances in shorter time. Performance enhancing drugs can be further classified into lean mass builders, stimulants, relaxants, masking agents, blood boosters and diuretics.
These drugs are used for different reasons, including muscle mass building up, pain masking, increasing oxygen delivery, stress relieving, and weight losing. The most common performance-enhancing drugs used by athletes is anabolic steroids. Based on a statistics, approximately 1 to 3 million people in the United States have admitted that they have taken the advantages of anabolic steroids, one of the common performance enhancing drugs, usage degree beteem young men 12% and only 2% of young women have used anabolic steroids. The question raised is should athletes be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs.
Anabolic steroids which also known as anabolic androgenic steroids are one of synthetically derivatives for testosterone, natural sexual hormone in males. “Anabolic” refers to muscle-building, and also the growth of bone and red blood cells while “androgenic” refers to developments in primary and secondary sexual characteristics. Anabolic steroids work by stimulating enzymes which produce proteins in skeletal muscles. Not only that, hormone cortisol that involved in muscle tissues breakdown will be blocked by anabolic steroids and thus existing muscles are degraded at a slower rate during and after intense strength training. Anabolic steroids are normally used to enhance athletic performance, boost muscle strength, increase lean muscle mass, as well as body weights and speed up recovery from injuries.
How do the anabolic steroids work in human body?
Steroid hormones are fat-soluble; they will first penetrate the cell membrane of the target cell and bind to the steroid receptor in the cytoplasm. Once the steroid-receptor complex is formed, it will travel into the nucleus and bind called DNA regulatory site on the chromatin. The steroid hormone-receptor complex formed will then undergo transcription process and produce messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules. The mRNA molecules are modified and exported to the cytoplasm and signal DNA for protein synthesis.
Adverse effects of anabolic steroids
Anabolic steroids are either taken orally or directly injection into muscles intramuscularly) or blood streams (intravenously) . There are some creams or gels that can be applied on to the skin. In attempt to boost effectiveness of anabolic steroids, doses taken by the athletes or body builders may be 10 to 100 times higher than the recommend doses for medical uses, this condition is commonly known as anabolic steroids abusing. There is no perfect drug that has ever existed in this world. Same goes to anabolic steroids. Overdose of anabolic steroids for illegal uses in sports is associated with severe side effects and irreversible damage to various human body systems. A reviewed document states that at least 165 cases of anabolic steroids abuse or dependence. Misuse of anabolic steroids affect both physically and psychologically.
According to Brower, withdrawal symptoms might be developed in the individuals who stop taking anabolic steroids after they have taken excessive amount of anabolic steroids over sustained period. The symptoms included mood swings, insomnia, depressed mood, reduced libido, anorexia, weight loss, and even suicidal thoughts. Despite of these behavioral changes, others common adverse effects of anabolic steroids are liver failure, endocrine dysfunction, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, and difficulties in blood clotting. For men, they may experience gynecomastia (breast development and enlargement), reduced fertility, shrunken testes, decreasing in sperm amount, decreased production of testosterone, development of prostate cancer due to the enlargement of the gland, and baldness, and masculinization in women and children. In women, excessive anabolic steroids will lead to breast reduction, swollen clitoris, masculinization, deepen voice, growth of body and facial hair, menstrual disruption and also increased risk of birth defects.
Adverse effects of anabolic steroids that exert on liver
Let’s go further details into how anabolic steroids affect liver and cardiovascular. Adverse effects of anabolic steroids that exert on the liver are specifically associated with orally administered anabolic steroids which consisit of a 17 alpha alkylated group. The C17 alpha alkylated anabolic steroids which taken orally are linked with liver toxicity.
The liver is the largest organ of the body which responsible for filtration of blood and act as a storage for certain minerals and vitamins. Besides, the liver also produces bile for food digestion. Excessive anabolic steroids that are taken orally can result in a decreased hepatic excretory function (ability to clear the waste products from blood) as the anabolic steroids cannot be easily metabolized in the liver. Furthermore, anabolic steroid abusers might develop other hepatic diseases such as hepatic cholestasis, hepatic peliosis and hepatocellular adenomas. Hepatic cholestasis is caused by the leaking of bile into blood stream and it is reflected by itching, hepatocellular jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes), nausea, dark urine, and hepatic peliosis.
The disease hepatic peliosis is a life threatening condition where the cystic degeneration of liver occurs and development of blood filled cysts. They are risky as the rupturing of cysts can cause fatal bleeding in liver. Hepatocellular adenomas are mostly caused by anabolic steroids which carry a 17 alpha alkylated group. Usually, the liver tumors are not cancerous and are developed after stop taking anabolic steroids. Other than that, concentration of liver enzymes such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) will be elevated by the excessive use of anabolic steroids and thus the plasma activity will be increased as well. When these enzymes are present in high concentrations in hepatocytes will cause inflammation and hepatocellular damage to the liver cells.
Adverse effects of anabolic steroids that exert on cardiovascular system The abuse of anabolic steroids maybe cause deleterious side effects on cardiovascular system. For example, heart strokes, atherosclerosis, increased heart rate, hypertension, changes in cholesterol levels, decreased level of good cholesterol or commonly known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and increased level of bad cholesterol or so-called low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The increased LDL level will lead to atherosclerosis (thickening of blood arteries by fat deposits (plaques) as it fails to remove fat deposits from arteries so the plagues built up on the walls of arteries causing the decreasing in diameter of arteries. Thus the amount of blood flow through the arteries is decreased and users are at a extremely high risk to develop heart attack or strokes.
There are congestive heart failure and irregular heart beat which is more probably related to the androgens, especially those aromatase resistance. In my opinion, there is no point when an athlete wins everything from the games included fame, popularity, personal satisfaction, and also financial rewards but they have no life to enjoy them. Since the use of anabolic steroids will cause serious adverse effects and irreversible damage to human’s body so the use of performance enhancing drugs should be completely blocked in the sports and athletes who used banned performance enhancing drugs should be given more strictly punishments or erase their records, awards and statistics to ensure the cleanliness and fairness of the sport hence the spirit of sport could be retained.
In a nutshell, the damages to human body systems such as endocrine, cardiovascular, reproductive, hepatic, and behavioral that come along with anabolic steroids are irreversible and lethal. Athletes’ healths are at risk when they take high dosages of anabolic steroids and yet there is no perfect and safest drug has been synthesized so use of the performance enhancing drugs. There must be some reasons that performance enhancing drugs are banned in any sport games, despite of health issues of athletes, there are ethical issues as well.
The purposes of organizing a sports are provide a mean for athletes to show their talents and their results from training hard, improve their physical skills and also abilities as well as entertain themselves. Doping in sports is like cheating in exams, some people argue that athletes should be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs as the limits of human performance has reached few years ago, the record could not be beaten if there is no allowance of the use of performance enhancing drugs. Purpose of the sports actually goes the same with exams, both of them want to test human’s abilities and skills. Cheating makes everyone exactly the same and there is pointless to conduct activities like sports and exams anymore. In short, athletes should not be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs including those are not banned by World Anti-Doping Agency.