Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maybe It’s Time to Legalize Steroid Use

Maybe It’s Time to Legalize Steroid Use
By Katie Kundrat

There are many obvious reasons why steroids use is illegal in sports. However, one may wonder as to why not legalize steroid use in sports? Athletes every day are constantly battling the issue of steroids. Whether they are using steroids illegally, or wrongly accused of using them, the issue is ever present. Many argue that steroids should be allowed in sports, solving the tornado of problems surrounding it. However, steroid use goes against the theory of hard work and talent leading to success in athletics.

There are many athletes who are accused of using steroids although they were not intentionally cheating. “Elite athletes have been barred from the Olympics, forced to relinquish medals, titles or prize money and confronted with potentially career ending suspensions after testing positive for a banned substance at such low concentrations it could have no detectable effect on performance” (Hiltzik, para. 2, 2006). Innocent people are often found guilty due to protein drinks, inhalers, antibiotics, and many other every day substances. My high school swim coach, Rachael Burke, was a competitive swimmer at the UVA. She tested positive for steroids while participating in a voluntary drug test her freshman year. She claims that it was from drinking a fruit smoothie the night before that may have contained traces of an energy “boost.” Rachael Burke was banned from competition for two years, ruining her athletic career. Burke claimed in an interview that people came up to her saying "I wonder if that's why you were so good when you were eight years old," (Hiltzik, para. 25, 2006). People sarcastically accused Burke of using steroids when she was young to make her into the amazing swimmer she was. However, these athletes suffer the same consequences as those who intentionally cheat and are often forced to give up their sports career. “The USDA [United States Anti-Doping Agency] has never lost a case” (Shipley, para. 12, 2004). It is impossible for innocent athletes to fight their case and win against the USDA.

There are many athletes out there who use steroids and have not been caught. They have an advantage over those athletes who abide by the rules or are too scared to attempt illegal actions. By allowing everyone to have access to steroids and use them, it creates a fair and level playing field for all athletes. Every athlete would be able to use enhancements if they wish. Athletes are taking huge risks by secretly taking steroids and often do not know their consequences. Many athletes out there are taking unknown and unregulated substances and have damaged their bodies as a result. If steroids were allowed it would create a safer environment for athletes. Steroids could be regulated and more information could be readily available about each drug and its side effects. Doctors would be able to recommend enhancers instead of an athlete having to sneak around and harm themselves.

Fans like to see records shattered, and the impossible made possible. According to Jost (2001), “Fans revel in the enhanced power, speed or endurance that steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs help make possible” (p.617). Even with accusations flying around Bonds, thousands turned out to watch him chase down Hank Aaron’s home run record. Viewers around the world still tune into the Olympics even though athletes are constantly being accused of taking steroids. The fans love to see the unbelievable accomplishments that athletes can accomplish (with the help of steroids or not). It brings more excitement to the game. Fans may doubt an athlete’s ability, due to steroids, but will still be excited when the record is broken. “Modern technology allows the general public to learn about athlete-celebrities personalities and feats” (Schultz 2009a). With the amount of media given to sport these days, steroid use will always be an ever growing issue. An athlete’s feats are always exciting even if they are using steroids at the time.

The value at stake in this issue is the value and definition of sports. Steroid use goes against the theory of hard work and talent enabling one to succeed at athletics. We have defined the term "sport" as "all forms of physical activity which aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being" (Schultz 2009b). Steroid use places less emphasis on the physical activity on sport and involves pharmaceutical advantages and improving physical fitness through artificial means rather than hard work. While legalizing steroid use may make the sport fairer, safer and exciting, the history of sports and underlining theory of working hard to make a name for one's self could be changed forever. History will be rewritten to indicate whether an athlete used steroids during their performance or not. Socially, the underlying question debates if society would be ready to trade in success stories of hard work and devotion for a new breed of performance enhanced athletes.


Hiltzik, Michael A. (2006, December 10). Athletes' Unbeatable Foe. Los Angeles Times.

Jost, Kenneth. (2001). Sports and Drugs. The CQ Researcher, 615-631.

Schultz, J. (2009a). Topic 7: Sport’s “Golden Age”. Lecture presented in KNES293. University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Schultz, J. (2009b). Topic 1: Thinking About Sport History. Lecture presented in KNES293. University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Shipley, Amy. (2004, November 4). Caught Cheating, or Was She Cheated? The Washington Post, pp D1.

Recommended Readings

Bahrke, Michael S. & Yesalis, Charles. (2002). Performance Enhancing Substances in Sport and Exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Longman, Jere. (2007, July 29). The Defeaning Roar of the Shrug. The New York Times, pp WK1.

Shipley, Amy. (2004, November 4). Caught Cheating, or Was She Cheated? The Washington Post, pp D1.

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