Steroids in Sports

Date: Nov 22, 2018
Category: Sport Category


Steroids are synthetic hormones that enhance the ability the users’ bodies to retain protein and facilitate growth of body tissues. They are used in the form of synthetic hormones, which enable athletes to build bigger body muscles at a faster rate and enables to develop stamina needed for outstanding performance in various sporting activities. Debate from the sporting arena continues with opinions divided as to whether or not International Association of Olympics (IAO), FIFA and other international sports associations should legalize the use steroids by sportsmen. This paper adopts an antagonist perspective and argues against the use of steroids in sports. Although some of the reasons that supporters of steroids give are outlined in this paper, the focus of the project is to elucidate the risks and dangers of justifying the use of these chemicals in sports.

Justifications for Steroids Use in Sports

Several justifications are advanced in support of this discourse. Some proponents contend that strict and stiff penalties for steroid use by sports people does little to lower the number of athletes caught and accused of using these drugs every year (Smith 1). Others contend that allowing steroid usage in sports will give fans of various sporting activities opportunities to watch and enjoy the very peak of human athletic performance potential. They believe that this is an exhilarating experience that adds more flavor to sportsmanship. Smith (1) asserts that these drugs are, therefore, enhancers that eliminate any barriers and human limitations. Thus, steroids enable sportsmen and women to enjoy the fullest of their talents. Besides, making steroid use a legitimate practice in sports will lower the costs associated with running committees, organizations and associations charged with the responsibility of monitoring, testing and convicting people, who participate in sports while under the influence of performance enhancers like steroids.

There are those who argue that sanctioning steroids use in sports deprives sports people from the right to benefit from the medicinal value of the drugs (Smith 1). For example, the human growth hormones are considered reliable enhancers of recovery from injury. The protagonists also assert that the health risks associated with steroids use do not hold, since mere participation in any sporting activity even without the influence of drugs already makes one vulnerable to injuries, accidents and other health hazards (Smith 1). Therefore, the risks cannot be used as a justification for outlawing steroids use in the sports arena.

Justification for Sanctioning use of Steroids in Sports

Professional sporting is a rewarding career that most people across the globe envy, given the charm it elicits from the fans, and the fame and the sense of status it awards sportsmen and women. The awards and honors are given on merit and purely on the basis of a player’s outstanding performance in a competitive sporting activity. In this regard, it is of great concern that the standards for competition are set uniformly in a level playfield, such that no single player gains undue advantage over other competitors in any game (Hartgens and Kuipers 550). Therefore, the primary justification for sanctioning and outlawing the use of steroids in professional sports is to avoid a situation, where some players have unfair advantage over their rivals in a sporting activity.

It is becoming common practice that all professional sportsmen and women are tested for drug use before approval to participate in any professional sporting activity. It is therefore illegal and unethical for a player to be crowned for winning in a sport, when, in essence, the player was under the influence of steroids or any other drugs and substances (Lenehan 213). Such conduct warrants sanctioning and withdrawing of certificate and license to participate in the sport for a given duration as determined by the sanctioning and licensing bodies for sports people.

Health Implications of Steroids Use in Sports

This argument against steroids is founded on empirical evidence that dependence on steroids to enhance performance in sports might have severe and acute health implications on sportsmen and women. The harm and risks associated with dependence on steroids are various. Long-term effects of using steroids are alteration of testosterone production levels. Andersen (132) asserts that these hormones are very critical to male fertility, since they are responsible for the development of biological traits and production of sperm. Although proponents of steroid use in sports argue that this health risk is not universal to all steroid users, their point of argument is based on tests carried out to ascertain the immediate health effects of steroid use (Andersen 43; The New York Times 1). This ignores the long-term side effects where most steroid users have been victims of sexual dysfunctions and other related reproductive health issues.

The psychological and medical complications that are likely to result from the use of steroids are a reason for elimination and sanctioning of the use of steroids in sports (Andersen 164). For example, the chemicals have been associated with mental disorders that develop gradually and eventually cause brain knock. Such brain knocks are responsible for senile dementia later in the life span and Alzheimer’s disease. Socially, the chemical substances often erode athletes’ confidence in the fairness of any sporting activities (Hartgens and Kuipers 523). Failure to acknowledge this fairness is likely to yield additional crises in competitive professional sporting activity. For example, some players may refuse to concede defeat. This may lead to violence and disorganization, especially in instances when historical rivals in an activity are competing for a title or award.

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Arguments in favor of legalization of steroid use in sports have been based on claims that steroids build user’s bones and muscle strength in the same way strenuous exercise does to other players who do not use steroids. This argument has since been critiqued and nullified by studies that indicate that the use of steroids is likely to cause rapid and abrupt changes in the muscles and bones of steroid users. Such rapid changes on muscle and bone strength weaken the body of players in the long–run (Yesalis 43). This implies that enhanced performance through the use of steroids is elusive and illusionary since after some time a peak performer in a certain sporting activity declines in performance as the long-term effects of steroid use set in.

There are other studies suggesting linking steroid use to weakening of tendons and that this is likely to alter growth and development of collagen fibrils. Haggard (55) asserts that this is likely to severe in the long-run and could easily lead to rapture of tendons. Other studies have also suggested that the use of steroids contribute to weakening of the heart. Specialists argue that complications like heart enlargement are associated with the dependence on steroids and high body tolerance levels for steroids during physical training and exercise (Beashel and John 153). The problem, therefore, becomes complex, since an athlete with such heart problems cannot participate in vigorous training activities and consequently cannot competently and effectively participate in any professional sporting activity.

Use of Steroids Gives Unfair Advantage in Sports

There have been outcries that legalization of steroids in sports is equivalent to licensing disenfranchisement of sportsmen and women who do not use steroids to enhance their performance. There are those who do not use the drugs due to health reasons or because they cannot afford the drugs. Steroid users, therefore, gain unfair advantage over their rivals in a competitive sporting activity (Beashel and John 43). This claim is based on the argument that whereas non-users will be relying on their natural abilities to compete in the same sport activity; steroid users will draw on extra-ordinary ability and stamina resulting from the chemicals and drugs.

Proponents of steroid use in sports claim that there is no difference between the use of steroids to enhance performance and relying on daily massage and exercises to enhance quick recovery of muscles (Haggard 55). This counter-argument is however quite far-fetched, especially considering the fact that massage is void of the use of chemicals and drugs but involves just normal procedures of facilitating healing and building stamina through normal exercise (Beashel and John 112). Thus, steroid use must not be tolerated at any cost, since it discourages sportsmen and women who are beaten in championships due to unfair advantage that steroid users have, and which enables them out-do their rivals in sports.

There have been persistent contentions that sport-governing bodies need to relax their rules and allow players, who can access and afford steroids, to use them and make it open to every person. However, such decisions are likely to spoil the reputation and fame of most sporting activities (Hartgens and Kuipers 525). For example, players will not be competing to measure their natural abilities, talents and skills but competing on the basis of quantities of steroid content in the body system. Eventually, such sporting activities will be characteristically violent, lacking meaning and value, and will be reduced to an activity, where success and achievement is based on the ability of candidates bodies to react well to chemical substances or genetic mutations induced into the body system (Haggard 55).

Use of Steroids Robs Sports of its Natural Feature

Steroids are unnatural chemicals that give users special abilities to perform extra-ordinarily. The goal of sporting activity is to promote the natural talents, unique abilities and skills of players. This would in turn enable them to perform a task and register performance that other normal players cannot achieve. It should be based on the abilities of sportsmen and women in athletics, for example, to develop, through persistent exercises, dedication to the activity, and other athletic values and norms required of an athlete (Hartgens and Kuipers 540). On the contrary, allowing steroid users to participate in sporting professional activities is unethical by the way it gives undue advantage to the users. Additionally, it robs the sporting activity of the fan that comes with competition on a level playing-ground.

Those advocating for acceptance of steroid use in sports relentlessly argue that the use of steroids is a demonstration of sport personalities, who have been able to enhance their performance through a combination of improved skills and talents. Instead, this should be left to moral conscience and judgment of candidates. This argument has loopholes, again based on the assumptions that sports must remain natural in practice and subsequent improvement on performance measured using the scale of naturalness. These intrinsic values are vulnerable to erosion, if careful attention is not taken to safeguard the field of sports against steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.

Anti-steroid use in sporting activities is justified by the need to preserve the intrinsic value of sports. The spirit of sportsmanship is when a champion is celebrated on the basis of his or her exemplary performance, which is due to unique natural talents and abilities that other players or rival participants in the same activity do not match. Such conclusions should be based exclusively on ethics of sportsmanship, fair play and honesty, respect for rules of the game and confidence that no single player is disenfranchised.

Approval of Steroids is Connected to Coerced Use

The use of steroids in sporting activities gained root as a result of few sportsmen adopting them and benefiting from their use. With time, the synthetic chemical hormones gained popularity and were at the verge of ruining the fame, nature and fun of many sporting activities from baseball, basketball, football, athletics and other sports across the globe. Therefore, any attempt to tolerate, not even to legitimize the use of steroids, is likely to influence more participants in sporting activities to start relying on these chemicals to out-perform their rivals or to compete fairly with those who are already using the substances. This is equivalent to forceful recruitment of a person to drug use and abuse without consideration of his or her values, health conditions, and financial ability to maintain consistent use of the drugs and meet the drug tolerance levels that expand with time.

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There are dissenting voices that have adopted a lobbyist approach to the use of steroids in sports. The argument advanced by such lobby groups are that steroid use should be allowed in the world of sports, since the decision to either use or avoid the drugs is personal and should not be pegged on any rules or policies. However, studies that have been conducted on the potential benefits and risks of permitting steroids usage indicate that more and more people are likely to be involved in the use of the drugs, which, in the first place, are illegal in most states (Delaney and Tim 147-148). This will open new networks of drug dealers, who will introduce the drugs through black markets. When it gets to this unfortunate level, it is likely that more harm than good will result from the simple decision to legitimize steroid use in professional sports. In the foregoing circumstances, the argument that personal will, freedom and liberty to use steroids should not be regulated in professional sports activities fails to hold any relevance and weight.

Learning takes place through observation. Further, role modeling is a very effective tool of enhancing permanent learning. Most sportsmen and women are models that upcoming and potential players admire and follow (Delaney and Tim 132). This makes them want to do anything that can enable them to improve their performance and shine in a sporting activity like their role models. Others get so attached to the model sports personalities, that they even like putting on the similar jerseys numbers. This explains the level of influence that steroid using role models are likely to have on their fans. Steroid use in sports is therefore likely to be emulated by fans that may not be cognizant of the consequences of using such drugs so long as they see their role models use the drugs and enhance their performance. Such people are likely to suffer in the process of modeling their super athletics heroes without prior knowledge of the consequences of steroid dependence.


Arguments in favor of and against the use of steroids in sports continue to heat up. Although there are concerns that rendering steroid use in sports illegal will rob sports of the fun that comes with enhanced performance, it is critical to have a balanced engagement in this discourse. The ethical side of this debate seems to have more weight. This is because of the health complications and risks related to steroid use and the fact that it supports unfair competition in sports by giving users undue advantage over non-users. Steroids should thus be rendered illegitimate any sporting activity locally and internationally if professional sports are to remain ethical.

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