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The Dangers of Drug Use in Sports

Drug use in athletes has ruined careers and lives in some instances. Whether an athlete uses an illicit or controlled drug, he or she takes a great risk of harming the body and being disqualified from the competition. It is alright to be competitive, but using performance enhancing drugs is both dangerous and unethical.

The competitive drive to win among athletes can be very fierce. Apart from the satisfaction of individual accomplishment, most athletes often strive to win a medal for their country or to secure a chance on a professional team. In such circumstances, performance enhancing drug use in sports has become very widespread. However, using such drugs comes with great risk.

Drug Use in Sports

The first recorded case of a doping fatality was the death of Andrew Linton, a Welsh cyclist during a Paris to Bordeaux race. He is believed to have ingested an alcohol based drug known as trimethyl.

History of Doping

Modern day doping began with the design and development of injectable testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone synthesized naturally by the body, but can be used as an enhancement drug. Using testosterone enhances muscle mass and strength. Before long, artificial testosterone had found its way to the sporting field.

Anabolic Steroids

Some sports personalities take a form of steroids known as anabolic steroids or anabolic-androgen steroids. Testosterone belongs to this class of steroids. Steroids belonging to this class help athletes by rapidly reducing recovery times from workouts and they also minimize muscle damage during workouts. This characteristic enables athletes to work frequently and harder without having to over train.


A dangerous form of anabolic steroids are the designer drugs, as these are made to be undetectable by present drug tests. These drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and as such, they present a serious health threat to athletes.

Side Effects

Since most athletes take anabolic steroids at elevated levels, physical side effects may arise. In men, these include baldness, infertility, prominent breasts, shrunken testicles, and impotence. In women, enlarged clitoris, baldness, deeper voice, increased body hair, and infrequent or absent periods. In both genders, dependence, heart problems, liver abnormalities, enlargement of the prostate gland, inhibited growth, acne and aggressive behavior.


Androstenedione is another form of steroids synthesized by the ovaries, testes and adrenal drugs. In men, andro results into diminished sperm production, breast enlargement, acne and shrinking of testicles. In women, it may induce masculinization and acne


Human growth hormone or gonadotrophin has been used by athletes to enhance performance and improve muscle mass. It has side effects such as muscle weakness, joint pain, hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, impaired glucose regulation and carpal tunnel syndrome.


Erythropoietin is a hormone used to manage anemia in individuals with adverse kidney disease. It promotes the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells, thus enhancing the delivery of oxygen to muscles. It is commonly used by endurance athletes like cyclists. It contributed to the death of more than 18 cyclists in the 90s. When used inappropriately, it may result into thrombotic disorders such as heart attack, pulmonary edema, and stroke.

Why risk it?

Though drug use in sports has had its share of exposure, many times it goes undetected. Some athletes want to win so badly that they are willing to take the risk of using dangerous drugs rather than perform at their own ability. At the same time, many athletes refuse to take performance enhancing drugs for a variety of reasons.

Find Help

There are many substance abuse professionals and rehab centers more than willing to help you or help you find resources to get free from such an addiction and live your life in happiness and peace. 

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