At a press conference in April, representatives from various professional sports joined together to discuss the effects of performance-enhancing drugs on their particular sport. Unanimously, the representatives decided that these drugs take away from the purity and natural skill of the sport, and should therefore be declared illegal in all professional and division-one college sports. This rule may go into effect as early as April of the year 2000. It is true that these enhancing drugs give athletes an opportunity to refine their skills, but who is suffering?
Assume a businessman wakes up in the morning fatigued due to a lack of sleep the previous night. To improve his performance, he drinks a cup of coffee. The caffeine in the coffee wakes the businessman and prepares him for a competitive day in the business world. Should coffee be seen as a performance-enhancing drug? It is the same concept as an athlete taking a performance-enhancing drug. A businessman’s coffee will simply amplify his natural skill in the business world, just like an enhancing drug taken by an athlete will amplify his natural skill in his sport.
International Olympic Committee officials are concerned that baseball slugger Mark McGwire is sending the wrong message by using the performance-enhancing substance androstenedione. Androstenedione is an adrenal hormone produced naturally in men and women. It is converted in the liver to testosterone, which is used in muscle production. It is a legal and harmless substance used to improve your workout. After sending seventy baseballs out of various professional ballparks, breaking Roger Maris’ ancient record of sixty-one, skeptics began associating McGwire’s success to his use of androstenedione.
He was always held back due to injury. In 1992, when androstenedione was not available, he was on track to hit seventy-four home runs before he injured his back. To prove a point, Mark McGwire put his supplements aside for a season. He wanted to show his fans that the skill he has is natural skill, and he does not need androstenedione to hit home runs. As of September 28, 1999, he has 61 home runs. With help from another home run hitter, Sammy Sosa, the excitement of baseball has reached new levels for both the players and spectators. Once again, who is suffering?
There is a misconception that an average athlete can take a “magical pill,” and wake up the next morning hitting home runs, shooting three-pointers, and throwing sixty-yard passes. Performance-enhancing drugs do nothing of the sort. Athletes who take these substances spend hours each day training in order to fine-tune their skills. There is also a misconception that the drugs are detrimental to the athletes health. Recently, studies have shown that all enhancing drugs, with the exception of steroids, increase the life expectancy of the user.
Each substance present in the drugs is produced naturally in every healthy person. Assuming that by the year 2001, all performance-enhancing drugs are made illegal in professional and division-one sports, athletes will simply have to be more careful in hiding their use of the drugs. Very few athletes will recognize the rule, and those that do will be the ones who suffer. There are many ways of masking any trace of a performance-enhancing drug. Therefore, an athlete could be taking many supplements and never be penalized.
The athletes who have high morals and decide to listen to the rule will be at a disadvantage due to their honesty. Performance-enhancing drugs give athletes an opportunity to make their sport more exciting. If the drugs remove from the purity of the sport, then the purity was lost in the 1920’s when vitamins became common to all athletes. Professional sports have created heroes for children all over the world. There is an excitement that has not been seen for years. When something is not broken, why fix it? If you take coffee away from a businessman, he is going to have a long, tiring day.