The use of anabolic steroids in sports has turned into a public issue. In many cases, fans are far more offended than athletes. Many spectators argue that the use of performance-enhancing drugs gives some athletes an “unfair advantage.” They believe that the use of performance-enhancing drugs somehow corrupts the intended purpose of sports or makes a sport easier than it had been in times gone by.
Participation in modern sports develops character and teaches participants to do their best and learn from their experiences. However, elite sports in the twenty-first century are also a massive billion-dollar business. Patriotism, personal rivalry, drug abuse, greed, commercial interests, television, and the erosion of traditional values all influence the modern athletic experience.
In elite sports, as in most intensely competitive situations, participants do not expect good sportsmanship but only that their opponents will pursue their self-interest. Victory is the purpose of elite athletics and can be achieved by only one of the competitors or teams.
The English writer George Orwell noted that “serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all the rules, and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence, in other words, it is war minus the shooting.” In this environment, cheating is a relative term and the use of steroids to triumph is an entirely rational decision.
Many professional athletes see steroids as little more than a tool to help them do their job in the same way that an office worker views his computer. Once their playing days are over, almost all the athletes stop using steroids. For example, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger originally became famous by turning his success in bodybuilding into a career in show business and then politics. Schwarzenegger has never denied that he used steroids.
As recently as 1996, he said, “I used steroids. It was a risky thing to do, but I have no regrets. It was what I had to do to compete. The danger with steroids is overuse. I only did it before a difficult competition for two months, but not for a period of time that could harm me. And then afterward, it was over. I would stop. I have no health problems, no kidney damage, or anything like that from using them.”
Only after becoming governor of California did Schwarzenegger’s statements become increasingly “anti-steroid.” Should the governor of California be considered a “loser” or a “drug cheat” based on his steroid use?
There is rarely a day when anabolic steroids issues are not in the news. Steroids are used in almost every sport. There is a great deal of debate about what the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the major professional sports leagues, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) should do regarding testing for anabolic steroids and enforcement of a steroid ban.
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