The use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sports world

According to the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, performance-enhancing drugs are any type of medication used to heighten an athlete’s ability. A majority of these substances, such as steroids, hormones, and stimulants, are harmful to the athlete, as well as prohibited in a sport’s setting. 


There are a myriad of different drugs that fall under the category of performance-enhancing drugs. According to Mayo Clinic, one of the most common types of performance-enhancing drugs is steroids. Anabolic and designer steroids are ingested in order to increase an athlete’s muscle strength. Designer steroids are even more damaging than anabolic steroids because they are a subgroup of anabolic steroids that are not cleared by the FDA. However, both of these drugs hold potential hazards. A few of the potential side effects could be reproductive health issues, issues with blood pressure and cholesterol, mental health issues such as depression, and the possibility of becoming addicted to these substances. 


The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports dates all the way back to the early 1950s. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the use of performance-enhancing drugs in athletic settings originated in the 1954 Olympics by weightlifters. About 30 years later, performance-enhancing drug use spread to average citizens as a way to approve their athleticism and physical looks. Nowadays, there are legal measures put in place to penalize the use of performance-enhancing drugs. One of these legal measures is an act passed in 2004 referred to as the Anabolic Steroid Act. This legislation outlawed the access, sale, and ownership of unperscribed prohormones, a type of performance-enhancing drug. 


Even though there are popular examples of performance-enhancing drug usage in national events like the Olympics, the use of these drugs can still be a problem with teenagers. According to the National Library of Medicine, a study done on adolescents in 2012 concluded that an average of 10 percent of teens use some kind of performance-enhancing drug to improve physical appearance and athletic ability. 


However, DHS does not seem to have this issue. In recent times, there have been no instances of performance-enhancing drug use at DHS. 


I have not heard or been a part of any cases since I’ve been here at Dow,” athletic director John Streeter said. “ The MHSAA has said that [teen steroid use] has been trending downward.”


Due to the lack of concerns with performance-enhancing drugs at DHS, athletes are not tested for these substances. According to Streeter, the MHSAA hasn’t even brought attention to the idea of testing for these substances since 2009. However, the use of these drugs will still result in some form of punishment, like suspension, if an athlete is caught using them.

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Emma Mertes

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