The controversial issue of steroid abuse is among the most popular of the controlled substance problems. Steroid usage in sports has many moral and ethical questions, but this has not always been the case. This situation with steroid is a case of sociocultural evolution as an adaptive process. This implies that a rational response has been created based on the social patterns concerning anabolic steroids. It also means that as the problem changed, the response to the problem also changed. Through examining the history of steroids, the patterns of large- scale societies, and the interacting networks of societies, we can then begin to understand the evolution of steroids in sports. On November 28 of 1990 president George Bush signed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act, which solidified anabolic steroids as a schedule III controlled substance in the United States. Anabolic steroids are not mysterious wonder drugs; they are simply man-made versions of the primary male sex hormone, testosterone(23 Yesalis) To beginning we must first understand what an anabolic steroid is and how they originated.
It has been known for centuries the male testis affect the masculine characteristics of a man. However, it wasnt until 1849 when scientist Berthold experimented with influential chemicals produced by the testis. His results foreshadowed the fundamentals of endocrinology, which is the study of internal secretions and endocrine glands. Fifty-six years later scientist Starling gave name to those influencing chemical as Hormones. By definition Hormones means to arouse or excite. Steroids slowly worked their way into the sports world starting in the 1950s. It first began in mens weightlifting competition in parts of Europe and Russia, shortly after spreading to North America. The steroids spread in the same fashion to the female athlete during the mid 1960s. Since then steroid use has diffused into other sports all around the world. Over the past three decades anabolic steroids has increased significantly in sports, and is no longer limited to elite athletes.
Even though there are reported higher rates of steroids in competitive sports, there are also reported higher rates of steroids in recreational sports. In the 1950s scientist discover that testosterone had two distinct components, anabolic and androgenic. The androgenic aspect gives the masculine features. The term anabolic means tissue building. They began searching for ways to separate the two components, and soon realized that it was not possible to completely separate the two. This is how synthetic steroids were developed. Scientist began trying to create a pure anabolic steroid with less androgenic. They discovered that there were fewer side effects when there was less androgenic in the steroid, however there was less anabolic as well. The word steroid comes from the Greek language meaning solid. With out going in to great detail of how anabolic steroids chemically work; steroids affectively increase protein synthesis and cellular repair.
All steroids share the number 17-carbon atom, and the number of atoms attached to it determines what type of steroid they are. Anabolic steroids are a derivative of testosterone, which is produced naturally in men and women. Men produce up to 10mgs/day and women about 10 times less than that. They are major regulators of mechanisms found within the human body. This is because they control almost every chemical reaction in our bodies. Anabolic steroids can be taken by mouth, by injection, and more recently by shin cream and patches. Athletes use Anabolic steroids because of the increased gains. A boost of hormones increases the influential reaction within the body, and therefore increases their physical capabilities. Through anabolic steroids athletes can alter their body composition, increase strength, increase endurance, speed up recovery times, and enhance athletic performance.
Now knowing a little theory on the issue of Anabolic steroids, we can explore the sociological issue of steroids in sports. We begin our discussion by examining Anabolic steroids in sports from a sociological functionalism approach. Firstly functionalists believe societies are complex systems of interrelated and separate parts, but are influenced by each other. They also believe that societies members all belief and commit to certain values. Most importantly functionalist believe that change is a very common occurrence, but occurs for beneficial reason. Steroid use is not only illegal but also viewed upon as immoral and unethical. However, when steroids where first used the issue was not the same. Steroids were thought of as dietary aid, such as how supplements and vitamins are thought of today. After years of experimenting and discovering the bad side effects of anabolic steroids with athletes, the general consensus among societies was against the use of steroids in sports. The evolution of these drugs in sports is a direct correlation of societies working as a functioning machine.
The pattern of drug abuse in North America has been shown to develop between the ages of 11 to 24. Surveys done consistently show that steroids are present through out grades 7-12. The spread of steroids in North America has affected many sports besides bodybuilding, such as basketball, swimming, gymnastics, football, lacrosse, softball, and many others. Football players embraced anabolic steroids in the 1960s. It spread for team to team, and players reported being forced to take the unknown drugs. Pat Donovan a former Dallas Cowboy said, Anabolic steroids are very, very accepted in the NFL. In my last five or six years, it (steroid use) ran as high as 60 percent to 70 percent on the Cowboys on the offensive and defensive lines. There was no clear indication as steroids spread quickly through sport. However, doctors played a major role in the distributing of the drugs.
They praised anabolic steroids and recommended them to athletes. It wasnt until the 1980s when doctors realised the potential harm of steroids and stopped prescribing them. In the United States doctors supplied one third of steroid users before the 1980s. They now supply only 10% of users, but for medicinal purposes only. Sports organizations had different reaction around the world. The U.S Sports Federation always had a public anti drug stance, meanwhile in the Eastern Bloc countries such as Europe the organizations and the government institutionalised the drug. Although the U.S. Sport Federation has claimed to be in favour of anti drugs, many people believe the federation is actually a scam covering drug scandals. The professional side of sports has struggled with the steroid problem over the last 20 years. Many people believe that professional sports were caught unaware of how fast the steroid problem had developed, and was developing.
The reason for banning anabolic steroids is supported by many ethical issues. The most evident issue is the physical and mental health consequence of using steroids. The physical side effects are both short and long term, but all pose potential risk to athletes health. The list consists of altered physical appearance, muscle and bone injuries, infertility, heart disease, stroke and heart attack, prostate disease, liver disease and cancer. The psychological effects are less obvious but are equally important. In controlled clinical settings patients showed an increase in mental alertness, mood elevations, improved memory and concentration, and a reduction of fatigued sensations. During the past decades there has been reported cases of increased aggression, also referred to as Roid rage. Although many scientists believe that increased aggression is possible, not all studies reach the conclusion that roid rage is possible.
Athletes are confronted with the issue of physical and psychological dependence. Several studies done have shown that athletes can experience physical, and mental addictions after taking doses of anabolic steroids. Despite being a controlled substance, steroid abuse in sports is still an issue. There are many people that continue to cheat regardless of the implications, and regardless of the unfairness of using the drugs. Firstly, it is extremely discouraging and frustrating to athletes who have made personal sacrifices to compete without drugs. Secondly, it takes away from the competitiveness of sports, which is the precise reason why we play sports. Regardless of what reason an athlete takes steroids the overall impact of steroid abuse in sports is negative. Since the 1960s steroids has been an increasing problem throughout the U.S., and has not declined since. It has been almost three decades since drug testing was introduced to sports in the Olympic games. Drug testing is now used in professional sports, collegiate sports, and to a small extent high school sports.
There has been many advances in drug tested since being first introduced, but at the same time cheating methods have also evolved and become more sophisticated. Although drug tests are preferably done using urine, they can also be done using blood, hair, and saliva. Even though many athletes disagree with the impersonal urine test, it is the most effective drug-detecting test. Besides being effective, urine is also readily available and easily collected. Although the drug testing procedures are very effective and precise, athletes are still finding ways to beat the system. With scheduled tests athlete stop taking steroids months before test dates. Some have even gone as far as injecting clean urine into their bladders. Drug testing has eliminated many drugs, but it has failed to eliminate training drugs. So-called training drugs allow athletes to do longer and harder workouts. Anabolic steroids fall under the category of training drugs, which help athletes significantly.
Training drugs can be timed right with competition, and the traces are long gone by the time urine samples are required. Lastly, the tremendous cost of drug testing is a major draw back. Widespread drug testing cost million of dollars. The question is whether scares resources should be used in order to rectify this relentless problem. Anabolic steroids abuse in sports is not an organizational problem, nor an individual problem. However, it is a large-scale problem affecting our entire society. Although steroids has been a problem in sports for decades, there are possible alternatives. The first social solution is legalization of anabolic steroids. This solution proposes that if steroids were legalized many figures in sports including athlete, would be forced to not be hypocrites. It also proposes changing the traditional image of sports, by accepting the fact the athlete uses drugs to develop their bodies. Legalization is not a helpful solution to the drug abuse in sport. It would likely force athlete to expose themselves to the physical dangers, or compete with a disadvantage.
However, by legalizing anabolic steroids you eliminate the problem entirely. There would be no more confusing or suspicion about whether athletes are taking steroids. The disadvantage of legalizing steroid is that many more athletes would suffer physical harm and even death. It would also change sports for the worst. Athletes would be biochemical machines and not hard working individuals. Sports would loose its appeal to many fans, which is likely to turning them away from the sports. Another possible social solution is interdiction. Interdiction involves drug testing, drug laws, and all other anti drug enforcement. In the United States this solution has been implemented, but has failed to diminish the amount of steroid abuse in sports. We can consider strengthening the drug laws and penalties, but that many further drive the steroid problem underground. It is difficult to be optimistic about the interdiction strategy, because of the difficulty to monitor and control the anabolic steroid market. The drug testing strategy has help to some extent, but athletes are discovering new ways to use steroids without being detected. Therefore taking away from the intended purpose of drug testing.
Furthermore Interdiction is a helpful solution in many ways, but has not and may not solve the abuse of steroids in sports. Lastly, there is the education social solution. There are two approaches of looking at this alternative. Firstly, with the ample amount of information we have about steroids, we can precisely educate about the dangers of steroids. If we educate the youth about anabolic steroids it is possible they will choose not to use anabolic steroid, and hopefully spawning a generation of drug free athletes. However, this same solution could have the opposite effect. For example, a steroid program directed a high school football players in Oregon had a paradoxical effect. After being exposed to the program the football players reported an increased propensity to use steroids. Therefore, educating athletes about the health risks and the ethical dangers involved with anabolic steroids shows some promise for sports. Unfortunately in order to decline the abuse of steroid in sports we cannot rely totally on education as a strategy. Steroid abuse in sports is a developed aspect of our culture.
The possible solutions to the problem must become apart of our culture in order to be effective. It is my belief that in order to reach a successful resolution we must combine a few social alternatives. Firstly we must implement an educational program that teaches prevention of steroids abuse. These prevention programs should teach athlete starting from youth, how to develop your body drug free. The programs should contain an equal amount education on anabolic steroids, weight lifting skills, and nutrition. Secondly, we must continue to implement interdiction to the already existing enforcements. Although anabolic steroids are mostly available on the black market, we most find a way to control its availability. To ultimately change the abuse of steroids in sports we must first change our values.
The appetite for drugs originated from our social fixation on winning and our physical appearance. Philosophically, most of society appears to have taken a bottom-line attitude: Winning or being the very best in any endeavour is widely considered the only truly worthwhile goal. If we accept this philosophy, then it becomes easy to justify, or be led to belief, that one should win at any cost: The end (winning), justifies the means (use of anabolic steroids and other drugs).(313 Yesalis) Societys current strategy for dealing with steroid abuse primarily involves interdiction, and education. However, based on our success so far, our efforts seem uninspiring.
Many of the methods to prevent drug abuse are still developing, which excuses some of the failure. The prevention programs should stress the importance of changing social values in sports. If we truly want to eliminate the steroid abuse in sports, we have to get to the root of the problem. The problem lies deep within are social values. This quote best portrays the development of steroids in our society, Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!(Sir Walter Scott) Ultimately if the problem isnt resolved many athlete will achieve goals through deceit and cheating, however the real repercussions will be the many athletes that suffer fatal side effects after years of steroid abuse.