Despite Sensitive Testing, Athletes Still Dope to Win

By Goff, Karen Goldberg | Insight on the News, March 15, 1999 | Go to article overview

Despite Sensitive Testing, Athletes Still Dope to Win


Goff, Karen Goldberg, Insight on the News


Athletes continue to resort to drugs in order to compete in increasingly lucrative sports. One expert estimates more than 1 million past or current steroid users are in the U.S. alone.

As Mark McGwire smacked one home run after another into the upper decks of Major League Baseball, or MLB, stadiums around the nation last season, cynics were adamant that an asterisk be affixed to his single-season homerun record. The reason: McGwire takes androstenedione, a testosterone-producing substance legal in baseball but banned by the National Football League, or NFL, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, and the International Olympic Committee, or IOC.

McGwire isn't the only athlete to come under criticism for using performance-enhancing drugs. Last July, six teams pulled out of the Tour de France, and another team was ejected from competition because of suspected doping -- nearly canceling cycling's premiere event. Recently, the creation of a worldwide antidoping agency became the centerpiece of an International Olympic conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In this age of sophisticated training, athletes have the financial backing to work out full time and the access to an array of coaches and medical experts. But do the athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs and beat the system really win? And why do so many athletes find enhancements necessary?

"When you devote yourself to a certain activity, there is pressure to excel," says Charles Yesalis, a Penn State professor of exercise science and author of The Steroids Game. "It doesn't matter whether you are a lawyer trying to win a case, a journalist trying to get a story or an athlete trying to win a game. It is a high-pressure, highly competitive world out there. In fighting for your livelihood, some people are willing to cross a line ethically, legally and at the risk of their health."

The line between enhancement and cheating is a fine one because only anabolic steroids are banned universally. (Some sports organizations, such as the U.S. Olympic Committee, are strict, banning everything from excessive caffeine to certain cough medicines; other governing bodies, such as Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, are lenient.) Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone, which can significantly build lean muscle mass, boost speed and endurance and accelerate recovery time. Steroids are illegal because they give the user results he or she could not get in a lifetime of training. But they also have been deemed a serious health risk, with side effects including increased aggression, sexual dysfunction, infertility and liver and heart damage that, in severe cases, can lead to death.

Over-the-counter supplements such as creatine (a popular supplement legal in the NCAA, NFL and MLB that aids in building lean muscle mass), DHEA and androstenedione offer some of the same benefits as steroids, but the side effects are unclear. They are classified by the Food and Drug Administration as dietary aids rather than drugs. Occasionally, athletes seek more aggressive and unusual treatments. U.S. national soccer team member Thomas Dooley, for example, has taken injections of calf's blood to aid muscle recovery.

Despite state-of-the-art testing at the 1996 Summer Olympics and a $20 million annual drug-testing budget, the IOC agrees Olympians continue to use drugs to augment performance. "We think at the moment what is going on is dangerous for the future of sport," says IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. "If one country develops one law and another has a different law with different sanctions, it is not the best way." At the IOC summit in Lausanne, a panel proposed that athletes face life-time bans and fines of up to $1 million in serious cases of intentional doping -- a suggestion met immediately with dissension from several governing bodies.

While Yesalis says drug use at the elite level is "epidemic" -- he estimates there are more than 1 million past or current steroid users in the United States -- steroid and supplement use is not confined to professional and Olympic athletes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Despite Sensitive Testing, Athletes Still Dope to Win
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.