How Steroids Have Been Widely Used in Sports

a picture of Ben Johnson winning the 1988 100m Olympic final while using steroids

Illicit steroid use by professional athletes continues to be a hot topic, especially since the amount of users seems to be on the rise. Year after year, headline reports fill the newspapers with news of yet another decorated athlete who’s been stripped off their medals due to failing the mandatory drug test, while others are caught and chastised in public as cautionary tales to others who might want to follow in their footsteps.

Yet, numerous athletes continue to use steroids due to the belief that taking them will set them up for success due to improved performance and competitiveness. But, what effect do steroids have on the athletes as well as the sport? And what impact do they have on the fans? Well, to answer the latter, most fans think that steroids introduce an element of corruption that somewhat ruins the sport and the image of the athlete who has used them.

On the other hand, sports analysts have been continuously debating the subject of steroid use in sports for the past decade. So far, the general consensus is that steroid use is a form of cheating and almost invalidates players’ statistics.

Looked at from another angle, one would argue that there is a reasonable basis for steroid use. For example, steroids provide faster and more efficient recovery. This enables athletes to get back to work faster and compete even harder than before.

In fact, a lot of senior sports athletes use steroids because it evens the playing field and allows them to compete at the same level as younger rivals. Steroids help athletes to achieve strength gains; they improve their level of endurance, while enabling them to compete for longer periods of time.

Thanks to steroids, athletes don’t have to remain on the sidelines for months on end due to injury. Steroids make it possible for athletes to reach record-breaking performance levels as well. For these and other reasons, steroids will always be a part of the sports because they help athletes reach unimaginable heights of fame and fortune.

However, the fall from grace that comes with being caught makes you wonder whether it’s really worth it.

Keep in mind that playing a professional sport can take a huge toll on the body, which is constantly being pushed beyond its limits, hence the prevalence of injuries and skeletal problems which affect athletes throughout the seasons.

Athletics star Marion Jones facing the media after being caught up in steroid scandal

An injury can really threaten a athletes career and earning potential.

However, continuous use of steroids will eventually lead to detrimental effects on the body, as the body is most likely to respond negatively to the abnormal changes caused by steroid use.

Peer pressure from trainers who try to convince players of the benefits of steroid use can also cause reluctant players to eventually start using them. This is done without considering the long-term effects of steroid use, which includes putting unnecessary pressure on the joints.

Senior players try to prolong their careers through the use of steroids, which gives them a false sense of youthful energy and strength. Emerging athletes, on the other hand, use them to increase their performance so that they’ll have an edge over the competition and a chance at a longer career.

Basically, steroids are used by all kinds of athletes as a way to prolong their career so that they can play the sport they enjoy for longer.

Nevertheless, major sporting associations such as the National Football League, the International Olympic Association, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, World Wrestling Entertainment, National Hockey League, as well as the ICC, FIFA, UEFA, TNA, ITF, FINA, UFC, the Brazilian Football Confederation and the European Athletic Association have officially banned the use of anabolic steroids.

However, these organizations have not managed to completely stamp out to steroid use, as the only thing that would make that possible would be to legally prosecute users. Think about it; the threat of going to jail would probably motivate most athletes to stay away from steroid use altogether.

For now, steroid use continues to be a problem for all types of physical competitions and sports, creating scandals and negative controversy along the way that has blemished the image of sports for many fans.

While the initial results of steroid use experienced by athletes (including faster recovery from injuries and improved performance) allow them to advance faster in the game, the long-term physical side-effects are not fun. Some of the health risks associated with long-term steroid use include acne, fluctuating cholesterol levels, liver damage, high blood pressure, long term hormonal damage,  and risky structural changes in the heart.

In a nutshell, athletes will probably always use steroids, whether to help set records, improve their level of self-esteem, or quicken their progress or recovery time, there are many convincing benefits that tempt athletes into using them. However, doing so is a huge risk to their careers, as their reputation will never fully recover after an illicit steroid use scandal.

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