Robert Boyle



DRUGS IN SPORT


Drug use has been a part of competitive sport for almost a century. At the
first olympics in Athens in 1896, marathon runners drank a mixture of brandy and
strychnine to help them on their ways and used opiates to control pain during a race.
Use of alcohol was very common in the early years of the twentieth century.
It might be argued that the first athletes to use drugs to enhance their
performance were, in fact, cheating. We need to remember that drug use is not new.
East Germany athletes used drugs to enhance their performance. Soviet Union
was also involved in drug experimentation. In the United States the drug culture
had become so widespread that steroids and stimulants were known to every high
school coach. The use of drug was believed by athletes to enhance performance, in
one way or another.
Until 1960, nothing was done about the issue. The sports council of Europe
officially moved against drugs when it tabled a resolution calling for the banning of
drugs on ethical, moral and medical grounds.
The Olympic games, even though they are only held every 4 years, represent
the pinnacle of sporting achievement. The International Olympic Committee (IOC)
has a critical role to play in demanding extensive drug testing and in providing
funding for such testing.
This is a controversial issue. The IOC believes that each of the international
federations which governs particular sports should be responsible for its own
testing.
This seems reasonable enough, but it is argued that the Olympic Games are
the highest profile competition in the world and the most prestigious. The world
stops to watch them and they represent the culmination of years of work for athletes.
Winning a gold medal is the glory to any sporting career.
Urine testing is the usual testing method, and it doesn’t reveal the full range
of drugs taken to enhance performance. Blood testing is a more efficient way, it can
detect drugs that urine testing cannot.
By the beginning of the 1980s, the use of anabolic steroids had become quite
common. These drugs - and the allied substances, testosterone and human growth
hormone - were basic muscle builders. They increased mass and strength, while
producing, as one side effect, a heightened aggression.
In other words, they made winners in sports.
The problem seems to be in the definition of drug. For example, if it is all
right for a competitor to take a pain-killer or a vitamin supplement, why is it not
right to stop exhaustion with a caffeine hit? The answer would seem to be that drugs
such as pain-killers are not a valid remedy for a medical condition, where as steroids
are a remedy for only one condition. Losing!
All that differed was the choices of drugs by a particular group. Tennis
players, for example are most likely to use anti-inflamatories and pain-killers, while
elite athletes knew of and use a sophisticated range of mood and body altering
substances.
Successful performance in sports depends upon having quick chemical
reactions in your brain and a responsive muscles system that is efficient in directing
such abilities as speed of movement, reaction time, agility, flexibility, and
coordination.
Drugs interfere with and replace the brain’s normal processes during
adolescent development. Some drugs such as marijuana affect the mind by reducing
motivation. Too much marijuana can make you lose the “get up and go” feeling you
need to train for sports so that you are no longer capable of doing your best.
Most athletes who use drugs do not die, but many fail at their sport.
An athlete can also fail by dropping out of sports or by being kicked out
either for poor performance or as punishment for illegal use od drugs.
Sports performance requires the most complicated physical movements. To
be successful in those movements, the athlete’s brain must be in excellent condition
for receiving and sending messages that involves strategy, control, balance and so
on.
Remember that drugs interfere with your natural chemical processes that
affect your moods, behavior style, body movements, health and appearance,
memory, and the quality of everything you do.
Drugs can ruin what it has taken you a lifetime to develop. All potential can
be lost when your body and mind are damaged by drugs.
Drugs alter behavior in many ways. They cause unpredictable outbursts and
actions beyond your control . They can cause aggressive acts of violence, and even
murder.
You should avoid drugs while you are still growing . Most drugs are
designed for adults. While you are young, you also have more fluid in your body
weight than you