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Supplements in Sports

When you are involved in athletics, you have to be competitive. You have to want to win more than anybody else. Athletes these days, however, are really taking winning to the extreme. Athletes today are using various supplements to increase their size, muscle mass, and their potential to perform well. Athletes have been taking all kinds of supplements to gain an edge on their opponents. Little do they know, these supplements are not FDA approved. No one knows the long-term effects of these supplements on the human body. The use of non-FDA approved supplements should be banned from sports.

Supplements are supposed to be taken to make up for a deficiency in some aspect of a person’s diet. For example, if someone does not like milk and does not eat any foods that contain calcium, they could take a calcium supplement. But, athletes use supplements to lose body fat and gain muscle and strength. There are many different types of supplements. The two most popular these days are Creatine Monohydrate and Androstenedione. Creatine monohydrate, generally known as creatine is a popularly used supplement. Creatine occurs naturally in muscles, but many athletes or body builders take it to increase their strength and size.

When using muscles, a chemical called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) is broken down into ADP (adenosine DI-phosphate) and an inorganic phosphate. The release of the phosphate is what gives the muscles energy. Creatine, whether, the naturally occurring, or from a bottle or jar, combines with phosphate and can restore ADP back to ATP. Theoretically, this means more energy. But it does not come without a price. The manufacturers and advertisers for Creatine tell 2 athletes they should use the product because muscles contain an average of 3. 5 to 4 grams of naturally occurring creatine per kilogram of muscle.

However, this can be increased because up to 5 grams of creatine may be stored. (Passwater 3) So, by using their product, the full potential of muscle energy can be used. Basically what the company is telling you is to pay an outrageous amount of money to add 1 gram of creatine to your muscles. Also, taking creatine has many side effects, just as other supplements do. This is because the type of creatine you buy of the shelf is pure. The body gets its natural creatine from red meat. But, red meat is not one hundred percent creatine. The body cannot handle the potency of this supplement.

Another supplement commonly used by athletes is androstenedione, which is a hormonally based supplement that is supposed to help weight lifters add muscle. Andro is taken orally and goes to the liver. The liver destroys most of what is ingested, but the small amount that does survive combines with various enzymes and temporarily boosts testosterone levels. (Hawken 8) This boost in testosterone allows an athlete to perform at a level above what he usually does. If an athlete takes andro before he goes to the gym, he will be able to lift more, and thus increase strength and size.

Although it is not legally considered an anabolic steroid at this time, andro acts exactly as they do. If anabolic steroids and andro have the same effects, and steroids are illegal, then andro should also be illegal. The American College of Sports Medicine says anabolic steroids such as androstenedione as well as other dietary supplements should be reevaluated and considered drugs. Although they do make people better athletes, they are illegal and athletes should not use them. DHEA is a supplement in the same family as 3 andro, called prohormones. DHEA also raises the testosterone levels in the body.

There is very little scientific support of these prohomones. In fact, some preliminary evidence suggests that they may be counterproductive. In a well-controlled study recently published by the American Journal of the American Medical Association, androstenedione failed to boost muscle mass, strength and testosterone levels; instead, it boosted estrogen levels, which could potentially boost body fat instead of muscle. (Smeets) In that same study, the prohormone DHEA increased the risk of cardiovascular disease and also raised the estrogen levels in the body. This could potentially cause an enlargement of the breasts in men.

Why would an athlete want to risk major health problems and developing breasts? Good old-fashioned hard work is the way to get ahead in sports. Drug companies try to tell consumers about all the values of these drugs, without telling of the side effects. Basically, creatine and andro sounded like wonder drugs through advertising. These supplements have many negative side effects. Many doctors and experts in the field of sports medicine are very concerned with the use of sports supplements. If these products are coming out onto the market without previous testing completed, the users are put at great risk for harm.

It has also been reported that once the athlete stops taking the supplement, all of the muscle that they gained while taking the supplement will be turned into fat. These athletes should realize that they would not be able to take the drugs forever without serious side effects. If that is not incentive to not take these things, then nothing is. The manufacturers do not even have to prove that their products are safe before marketing them. There needs to be more regulations on sports supplements in 4 order to protect consumers. People who go out and purchase sports supplements often later regret doing so.

People are realizing that creatine is dangerous and that the initial claims made by the companies are false. It is not only individuals who are realizing that these supplements are dangerous, states and governments are also realizing this. New Jersey is trying to put a ban on creatine and eventually so will every state, which is positive because the ban will save people from their own ignorance. The drugs are not FDA approved because they are dangerous and as long as it does not state that it is a steroid on the bottle, it can be sold anyway.

It should be illegal to sell products that are not FDA approved because the companies are putting their own customers at risk by selling dangerous products. One of the most famous cases of sport supplements use was by Mark McGwire. Baseball’s “Sultan of Swing”, Mark McGwire, was “living on” creatine as he chased Roger Maris’ home run record a couple seasons ago. (Matheson) McGwire was also taking andro, and the combination of these two supplements probably helped him to achieve his goal of the home run record. Even the people using it know that it is wrong to take it.

It gives them an unfair advantage over the people who care about their health and body and do not want to harm themselves on purpose. Sources say that McGwire was furious when word leaked out last season he was using it. (Matheson) Famous athletes who serve as role models to children should not be doing things that they are going to be ashamed of, or want to cover up. McGwire obviously questioned the morality of using a performance-enhancing supplement, 5 especially, since he is a role model. Once the season was over, and he broke the home run record and got his name in the record books, McGwire stopped taking andro.

A few days later he told reporters in St. Louis he stopped using andro four months before. (Matheson) The main reason for McGwire’s behavior reversal was that he had seen that people take creatine and andro modeling his behavior, and he stated in a press conference on CNN that he stopped because he doesn’t want kids to take it for that reason. McGwire was right, kids do take it because of him, and reports say that the sale of andro increased by over 500% after word came out that he was using the supplement.

Matheson) One can only hope that the kids will again follow his lead and stop taking this harmful drug. Mark McGwire is not the only professional athlete who is taking dangerous supplements. Michelle Smith de Bruin of Ireland won three gold medals in the Atlanta Olympics. It was later revealed that she had been using andro. She was banned from swimming for four years because of it. She ended up appealing the drug charges, but was not taken seriously because she spiked her urine sample with alcohol. In the end, she retired from swimming.

Schnirring) The use of androstenedione is banned in almost every professional sport, the NCAA, and the Olympics, but not in professional baseball. There needs to be a uniform drug policy throughout all sports, not just certain ones. The use of sport supplements such as androstenedione or creatine is dangerous, and these drugs should be obtained on a prescription basis alone. The people who are using them are misinformed about the side effects that they might have. Athletes are willing to sacrifice their health and well being by taking androstenedione or creatine, in order to 6 erform outstandingly for one season.

The really bad part is that it is not just professional athletes taking supplements now. These days, teenage high school students are buying and using supplements such as creatine and andro. These young athletes have seen the success that supplements have produced, and want the same effect. They are usually willing to pay any price, and use any supplement, to gain success. The United States and the professional sports organizations need to tighten up legislation regarding these drugs. If nothing is done about this, many people will develop serious long-term medical problems.

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