Steroids and Athletes

Last week a caller to 6PR on the sports show with Peter Bell and Karl Langdon spoke about performance enhancing drugs.

His argument seemed to be that since it had been around for years, it was pointless to attempt to police it, and the authorities should just declare open slather.  He then went on to imply that those who did not agree with this view were ignorant.

Let’s have a look at it, and try to work out where the ignorance lies.

Our body is the most complex thing in existence.  The chemistry of the human body has no parallel in any other field of human endeavour

Billions upon trillions of chemical reactions are taking place in your body right now.  There is a hierarchy of influence for various types of reactions, and right at the top are hormones.  In corporate terms we may say that hormones are the CEOs of the body.

As a baby is growing in the womb, for example, it is the dousing of the foetus at various stages that determines the development of gender and organs, particularly that of the brain.

And of course it is known that their influence even controls behaviour.  They are directly responsible for men being more muscular than women, as they influence the growth of muscle tissue.

Hormones are steroids, and it is synthetic steroids that are the chemical of choice for those who wish to enhance their athletic performance chemically.

But taking these chemicals into your body without very precise controls being exercised by highly qualified medical staff, you are dicing with danger. Each one of these chemicals sets in train a cascade of chemical reactions that can have adverse effects on many of your vital organs, like your liver and your heart.

And of course the real danger is that if this becomes both the norm and acceptable, then athletes will have to employ these substances to maintain the standard of performance. So we’ll have young, fit men and women dropping dead from heart failure in the prime of their life.

Is that what our friend Paul wants?

And understand this – such is the craving for performance and acceptance, many people KNOW these risks but don’t care. A bodybuilding magazine once asked its readers “if taking drugs could make you Mr Olympia – but that you’d be dead the next year – would you still take them?”

70% of respondents answered yes.

But it gets worse. It’s one thing for drug takers to make a decision that only effects themselves, but such are the effects of these drugs on your mind, that there have been several instances of these drugs changing a person’s behaviour with tragic outcomes.

So for our friend Paul there are very good reasons why these drugs are illegal, and why they should remain that way.

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