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History of Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Sports

Performance Enhancing Drug (PEDs) have been understood in many cases to mean any drug which is taken to improve one’s performance in sports even though is not a part of pharmacologic doses. According to the Australian Psychological Society, the use of PEDs has been experienced since the original Olympic Games. However, its use has been on the increase resulting into various health and other related consequences. The major cause of the use of PEDs is the value that the society attaches to winning and the need for success by the individuals. Today, various anti-doping have been formulated as a measure of preventing the use of the PEDs. This paper will look at the concept of the concept “the pressure to succeed” as a drive for the increasing use of PED.

In general, performance enhancing drug is any drug which is taken with the aim of improving one’s performance in sports but is not a part of pharmacologic doses. The International Olympic Committee defines performance enhancing drugs as substances that gives the user an unfair competitive advantage. According to the Committee’s description, a drug can only be categorized thus if it boosts the users performance in sports. The drugs increase the individual’s performance by increasing his/her strength, power, speed or/and ability to endure. Coakley and Donnelly (2004) have added that Performance enhancing drugs also includes drugs taken to alter body weight or body composition in order to make one more fit for sport. Another category of PEDs includes the drugs that are taken to trigger behavioral and arousal changes as well as one’s perception of pain (Coakley & Donnelly, 2004).

The Pressure to Succeed

According to Andre and Velasquez (2010), any attempt towards understanding the reasons behind the increasing use of drugs in sports is only possible if it is done alongside that of the pressure that the society puts on the individual athletes. They note that the society no longer takes sports for recreation and socialization. Instead the today’s society has emphasized on the need to succeed i.e. win in sports.

Andre and Velasquez (2010) emphasize that most athletes use drugs because of the high level at which our society holds sports. In their studies, they had found out that most of the sportsmen and women attribute their involvement in the use of drugs to the societal value of success. This is also closely related to the parental and peer pressure. They explain that in today’s society, victory is valued than the game itself as the ultimate goal for sports. They observed that the need to succeed has also been internalized by the upcoming athletes. These young adults and adolescents athletes now derive their motivation from the prizes and benefits attached to winning and not the initial self fulfillment.

Andrew and Velasquez (2010) further note the need to succeed among the sportsmen and women is also attached to the way in which the society treats its winners. Those who win are often given the status of celebrity. This enables the winners to enjoy high status and uncommon favor. Some of the successful sportsmen and women have also been granted huge scholarships by a mere virtue of having won. It is such actions by the society that adds the pressure to succeed on the sportsmen and women. 

The need to succeed is also explained by the capitalism nature of the society. The society has embraced individualism to an extent that people are highly preoccupied with the self. The athletes who also want to remain relevant in the society have therefore opted to use all the available means in their attempt to succeed in life. They have thus embraced the PEDs as one and the most readily available and effective means for them. The athletes’ main aim in this case is to obtain all the rewards that the society attributes with winning. This in most cases has contributed to most athletes failing to rationalize the actions concerning the use or drugs.

Most of those who have embraced the use of drugs also see it as an acceptable alternative to hard work. In most cases, the users tend to weigh the need for success in sports with the resulting medical and legal costs from the use of PEDs. From the arguments of Andre and Velasquez (2010), it is therefore clear that the reasons for the use of performance enhancing drugs are two fold.  First is because of the value that the society places on success and the pressure that comes with it. Second is the urge for success which is in the individual athletes. The urge is normally internalized during the tender ages of involvement in sports and nurtured by peer influence, societal and the parental expectations.

Examples of Performance Enhancing Drags

With the increasing need of success and the resulting demand of the PEDs, different performance enhancing drugs are being invented and used among the sportsmen with time. Some of the most utilized performance enhancing drugs includes anabolic steroids and the Human growth Hormones. The anabolic steroids are drugs that perform same the roles as testosterone hormones. It works by raising the user’s rate of the muscles growth as well as increasing their physical strength and the muscle size. It thus gives its users the advantage over their fellow competitors. Health wise, the drug affect the women users by deepening their voices (Australian Academy of Science, 2004).

On the other hand the Human growth Hormone works by promoting the physical development of its users. Studies have linked the drug to stimulated growth of bones and production of collagen which works by stimulating the liver to produce several other growth factors. The drug also works to increase the number of red blood cells in adults as well as boosting the function of the heart while at the same time stimulating the breakdown of fat. The drug therefore gives its users physical advantages over the others by increasing the amount of energy they are able to produce (Australian Academy of Science, 2004).

Outcomes of the Use of PED

Because the use of these drugs is not regulated, they have often had serious health repercussions on their users. The worst of such cases was experienced in 1960s when a number of athletes and other sportsmen all over the world died because of having used some of these drugs. According to Coakley and Donnelly (2004), the use of the PEDs is also against a number of the moral principles like that of the need to follow the laid down coaching manual and to go through a sound physical training. The using these drugs also subjects the sports people to unfair competition and reduces these activities to a mere cheating. Additionally, as a section of the society, the users of the drug are likely to influence other people into being involved in the same act. This may either be out of pear pressure or the need to win as they see the rewards enjoyed by the earlier fortunate colleagues.

Because of the aforementioned effects of the PEDs, the individuals and the community as a whole are increasingly learning various lessons. In today’s society measures such as drug ban and drug testing are common everywhere. The measures are slowly proving effective especially in helping to root out the use of PEDs in sports. Programs that incorporate the upcoming athletes are being implemented. They are taught the social skills to enable them overcome the drive from the need to win and to succeed in a highly individualist society. The society is also increasingly making use of health care professionals in counseling the athletes in specific and the youths and adolescents in general.

In conclusion, it is evidenced that apart from failing to serve the good of the majority, the use of PEDs are also to a larger extent costly for its users in the long run. The vice must therefore be avoided at all costs. For this to be realized there is need for the community to forsakes its philosophy of “win-at-all-costs” and stop demanding too much from the sportsmen and women.

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