Study Notes

USE OF DRUGS

Drug use in all sports is considered unethical and quite dangerous.

Not only are their effects to the health of the athlete, it also makes the playing field unequal meaning that an athlete can create an unfair advantage against their opponent.

So why do athletes risk taking drugs?

A lot of athletes are seeking glory. The driving commercial side of sport in today’s society means that athletes seek the extrinsic reward (money, fame, sponsorship) that comes along with being the best. Some athletes forget what sport is all about to seek those rewards.

There are some athletes who are dissatisfied with performance and don’t have the drive to work hard to improve. They can be easily influenced by others and possibly take the wrong advice on offer.

There is that underlying pressure to win. In the world of professional sport, there is constant pressure on athletes to perform and win. Winning means sponsorship, which equals monetary gain.

The nature of sport is also well publicised and often athletes have rather large expectations placed on the to perform. Sometimes the pressure of this from teammates, media and spectators can mean that athletes will make poor choices in regards to performance enhancing drugs.

Different drugs being used will have different effects on the body.

Some are designed to build body mass (anabolic steroids) which helps those athletes that need to develop muscle tissue and size, some drugs increase the delivery of oxygen to the working muscles (EPO) which helps endurance based athletes and there are drugs that are used to mask the effect of other drugs they are taking so that they can hide the fact they are trying to boost performance (diuretics).

– The Dangers of Performance Enhancing Drugs

Physical effects

The use of some drugs can lead to some very serious health effects that include cancer, heart problems and emotional problems such as stress anxiety and depression.

Loss of Reputation

Winning can mean more that just a gold medal in today’s society. Some athletes develop the mentality of ‘winning at all costs’.

If an athlete adopts this approach and uses the wrong methods, it can lead to not only the athletes name being tarnished but potentially the sport and the reputation of the country.

E.G. – Just recently the Russian Athletic Team has been banned from the 2016 Olympic Games due to the indiscretions of some of the athletic athletes. This means that those athletes who are clean will miss out representing their country.

The loss of reputation can mean a loss of respect to fellow peers, spectators and any young people who may look up to that particular athlete.

The media may also vilify that athlete, as it is a way of selling news. Along with this, there is the potential for the athlete to suffer emotional and psychological stress from the outcome.

Loss of Sponsorship and Income

Athletes are often lured into using performance enhancing drugs to gain the financial reward that comes along with winning. There are millions of dollars every year invested into sport by sponsors, the government and supporters.

Being caught using performance enhancing drugs can tarnish the sport. It can lead to a withdrawal of sponsorship and funding for the sport. It can also have an effect on the athlete’s livelihood.

Being banned from the sport and not earning their potential income can mean that the athlete will have to change the way they live whilst they are banned to earn an income.

– For Strength

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Human Growth Hormone is naturally produced in the body’s pituitary gland. It improves the frequency of amino acid transportation to skeletal muscle cells.

This hormone helps stimulate the growth of muscle, cartilage and bone, therefore increasing muscle size.

The artificial form of this hormone allows athletes to train harder and recover quicker.

Athletes who are looking to become bigger, stronger and more powerful are likely to use this product.

The side effects of HGH include:

– the hands, face and feet becoming oversized (this is also known as acromegaly)

– heart problems

– enlarged kidneys, heart

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids causes the body to develop muscle size and bone mass.

It does this by encouraging muscle and cells within the body’s skeletal system to make new protein.

This form of steroid is used to increase size and weight, strength and power. It also allows the athlete to recover faster from a workout so they may get back in and train again.

This means that the athlete can make more gains in their training as they are able to train longer or more often without worrying about fatigue.

Again this drug is used in power and strength events – 100m sprint, rugby league.

The side effects of Anabolic Steroids include:

– at times, mood swings, aggression,

– increased liver and cardiovascular disease

– infertility

– testicular atrophy

– in males it can lead to baldness, breast development and interfere with sexual function if used excessively

– females may see male characteristics begin to develop, their menstrual cycle may be interfered with and their vocal cords can thicken.

– For Aerobic Performance (EPO)

Erythroprotein (EPO) is a natural hormone that is secreted from the kidneys when there are low oxygen levels in the body. It is a hormone that helps stimulate the production of red blood cells. More red blood cells mean that there is the potential to utilise more oxygen in the body.

Endurance athletes are most likely to inject EPO into their body to gain the ability to increase the absorption of oxygen in the body and increase endurance levels and reduce fatigue. Some well known elite cyclists have been caught using this drug to boost performance.

There are severe effects of using EPO. They include:

– poor circulation and an increased thickening of the blood, which can lead to clotting and thrombosis

– heart problems such as a stroke or heart attack

Another form of performance enhancing for aerobic ability is blood doping.

This method requires blood to be withdrawn from the athlete leading up to competition, isolating the red blood cells within the blood and then re-injecting the red blood cells prior to competing to increase the oxygen carrying capability of the body. Again this is illegal. This form of doping is supposed to mimic the effects of EPO.

– To Mask Other Drugs

Diuretics are used within the sporting industry to hide the use of other drugs.

They can change the chemical make up in urine meaning that the presence of prohibited substances can often go unnoticed.

Alcohol

While this is considered a diuretic, it is not considered a performance enhancing drug.

As it is a depressant, it actually produces a negative effect on performance. Athletes will use this as a diuretic as it dilutes the urine.

Diuretics

Diuretics are used to promote the amount of fluid moving through the body and being passed.

They can be used as a way to mask drugs or lose weight.

Athletes who compete in sports that require them to compete at a certain weight level such as boxing, weight lifting or horse riding (jockey) may use diuretics to control their weight.

In terms of being used as a masking agent, urine can be diluted, resulting in the banned substance being less likely detected in the urine due to the lower levels of the drug being present.

The side effects of diuretics include dizziness, cramps, kidney failure and dehydration.

– Benefits and Limitations of Drug Testing

The benefits of drug testing are that athletes are competing on an equal playing field. Their rights as athletes are being protected as they are competing in a clean sporting environment. The fact that there is a lot of testing going on acts as a deterrent to most athletes.

While it is great that organisations such as WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency) are committing their time and effort into researching and conducting testing, it is still very expensive to test athletes, meaning that they can’t test as many athletes as they would like to.

There is also the problem that they are one step behind in terms of what drugs are being used as there are new drugs being created to improve performance all the time.

They must keep researching and keep up to date with what drugs are created to make sure they can test for all substances.

Drug testing can be confronting to some athletes especially young athletes, as they have to remove their clothing in front of a tester and be watched as they urinate.

While there are benefits and limitations to drug testing we need to look at whether it is worth the process or not. Some people claim that drug testing is an invasion of privacy, too costly to maintain and that the policy is different from sport to sport.

E.G. – an Olympic sprinter caught using and anabolic steroid incurs a two year ban from the sport compared to the recent peptide scandal in rugby league which saw the athletes back playing after the off season break.

On the other hand, the arguments for continued drug testing are that it provides an even playing field, it makes athletes more accountable for their health and the idea of drug use goes against what sport is really about.

Full Written Notes

Critical Question 3 – What ethical issues are related to improving performance?

USE OF DRUGS

Drug use in all sports is considered unethical and quite dangerous. The use of illicit substances can have long term, negative effects on the health of the athlete. Drug use also creates an unequal competitive environment as doping can provide athletes with a short-term and unfair advantage against their opponents.

So why do athletes risk their health, reputation and career by taking drugs?

Many athletes seek glory and some prioritise pursuit of success over their commitment to their health and wellbeing. The commercial aspect of sport in today’s society provides athletes with more incentive to seek the extrinsic rewards of money, fame, and sponsorship, which accompany victory. Some athletes are dissatisfied with their performance and don’t have the drive, resources or ability to improve. They may be encouraged, influenced or coerced into taking illegal substances.

In the world of professional sport, there is constant pressure on athletes to perform and win. Winning means sponsorship, which equals monetary gain. The public and media add to the expectation placed on athletes to compete and perform. This constant, underlying pressure to win can lead to athletes taking extreme measures and making poor choices to ensure their continued success.

Different drugs have different effects on the body and performance. Some, like anabolic steroids, are designed to build body mass, which appeals to athletes who need to develop muscle tissue and size. Other substances, for example EPO, increase the delivery of oxygen to the working muscles increasing endurance. There are also drugs, primarily diuretics, which can be used to mask the effect of other illicit substances designed to improve athletic performance.

The Dangers of Performance Enhancing Drugs

Using drugs to enhance performance may seem appealing to athletes in the short-term, however, there are long term consequences and repercussions, which will effect the athlete regardless of whether they are caught.

Physical effects
The use of illicit substances can lead to a number of serious physical and mental health issues including cancer, heart problems, stress anxiety and depression.

Loss of Reputation
Winners earn more than just a gold medal in the twenty-first century; elite athletes receive financial rewards, fame and sponsorship. Consequently, some athletes develop the mentality of ‘winning at all costs’.

If an athlete adopts this attitude and relies drug use and other unethical means to ensure their success, it can lead to a potential loss of reputation for the athlete, the sport and the country they represent. Just recently the Russian Athletic Team was banned from the 2016 Olympic Games due to systematic drug use amongst athletes. The consequences of doping in this instance negatively impacted both athletes who were doping and those who were not. Russia and Russian sporting bodies also received extensive criticism and judgment from other countries as a result of the scandal, which tarnished the perception of all athletes representing Russia in Rio.

The loss of reputation can involve a loss of respect amongst peers, spectators and any young people who consider that particular athlete a role model. The media may also capitilise on the situation, vilifying athletes who participate in drug use as a way of selling news.

Athletes who are caught may also suffer prolonged and long term emotional and psychological stress from the fallout of their actions and subsequent loss of reputation.

Loss of Sponsorship and Income
Athletes are often lured into using performance enhancing drugs by the promise of financial reward. There are millions of dollars every year invested into sport by sponsors, governments and supporters. Athletes often have short careers compared to other professionals, due to the physical nature of what they do, therefore money and financial stability can be extremely appealing.

It is important for athletes to remember that being caught using performance enhancing drugs can tarnish the sport. It can lead to a withdrawal of sponsorship and funding for the sport and athletes can lose their income impacting their livelihood. Receiving ban from the sport and losing sponsorship can mean that an athlete will have to change or end their sporting career. This can have sustained negative impact of mental and physical wellbeing.

For Strength           

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Human Growth Hormones are naturally produced in the body’s pituitary gland. These chemicals improve the frequency of amino acid transportation to skeletal muscle cells, stimulating the growth of muscle, cartilage and bone and increasing muscle size. The artificial form of this hormone allows athletes to train more intensely and recover quickly. As a result this substance is appealing to athletes who are looking to build strength and power.

The use of HGH can have many side effects including a significant increase in the size of the athlete’s hands, face and feet (also known as acromegaly). Prolonged use can also lead to heart problems and the development of enlarged kidneys and other organs.

Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids cause the body to develop greater muscle size and bone mass. The substance encourages muscle and cells within the body’s skeletal system to produce new protein.

Like HGH, this form of steroid is used to increase size and weight, strength and power and will be appealing to sprinters, rugby players and individuals who participate in other high intensity sports.

Steroids enable the athlete to recover faster from a workout so they may get back in and train again. Consequently, athletes can improve their performance over a shorter period of time; they are able to train longer or more often without worrying about fatigue.

Use of Anabolic Steroids can lead to a number of serious and negative side effects ranging from mood swings and aggression to infertility and the development of liver and cardiovascular disease. In males, excessive use can result in testicular atrophy, baldness, breast development and sexual dysfunction function. Females may develop physical, male characteristics such as the interruption of their menstrual cycle and thickening of the vocal cords.

For Aerobic Performance (EPO)

Erythroprotein (EPO) is a natural hormone, which is secreted from the kidneys when there are low oxygen levels in the body. This hormone helps stimulate the production of red blood cells resulting in can increase of oxygen in the body.

Endurance athletes are those most likely to inject EPO into their body. Increasing the absorption of oxygen in the body improves endurance levels and reduces fatigue. Some elite, long distance cyclists have been caught using this drug to boost performance and as a result the entire sport has come under scrutiny.

There are severe effects of using EPO including the development of poor circulation and an increased thickening of the blood, which can lead to clotting, thrombosis and heart problems, such as a stroke or heart attack.

Another method used to enhance aerobic ability is blood doping. Blood is withdrawn from the athlete leading up to competition, isolating the red blood cells within the blood and then re-injecting prior to competing to increase the oxygen carrying capability of the body. Again this is illegal. This form of doping is supposed to mimic the effects of EPO without the need for introducing a synthetic chemical.

To Mask Other Drugs

Diuretics are used by athletes to hide the use of other drugs. These substances can change the chemical make up in urine increasing the likelihood that the presence of prohibited substances will go unnoticed. As a result, the use of diuretics is banned.

Diuretics
Diuretics are used to increase the amount of fluid moving and passing through the body. They are commonly used by athletes to mask the use of performance enhancing drugs or to lose weight quickly. Athletes who compete in sports that require them to perform at a certain weight level such as boxing, weight lifting or horse riding (jockey) may use diuretics to control their weight. As a masking agent, diuretics dilute the urine making it difficult for testers to detect the use of other substances.

The side effects of using diuretics include dizziness, cramps, kidney failure and dehydration.

Alcohol
While alcohol is considered a diuretic, it is not considered a performance enhancing drug. As a depressant, drinking actually has a negative effect on performance. Some athletes may still be tempted to use this as a diuretic as it dilutes the urine.

Benefits and Limitations of Drug Testing

The aim of drug testing is to ensure that athletes compete on an equal and equitable playing field. The rights of athletes are protected and represented by creating a clean sporting environment. The fact that drug testing is performed regularly and constantly serves as a deterrent for drug use to most athletes.

While it is positive that organisations like WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency) commit time and effort into research and testing, the high costs of anti-doping test mean that they can’t test as many athletes as they would like to.

Testing is also reactive, meaning that it one step behind in terms of the drugs being used. Additional performance enhancing drugs and techniques are constantly being created and it is difficult for testing agencies to predict and keep up with new developments. As a result, organisations must conduct steady research and find innovative ways to identify newly created drugs to ensure they can test for all substances.

Drug testing can be confronting for some athletes, especially people who are new to the process, as it involves the removal of all clothing in front of a tester, who must then watch watched as they urinate into a sample cup.

While there are benefits and limitations to drug testing there is some debate as to whether the process is effective or not. Some critics claim that drug testing is an invasion of privacy, too costly to maintain and that anti-doping policies are inconsistent between sports. For example, an Olympic sprinter caught using an anabolic steroid will incur a two year ban from the sport, compared to the recent peptide scandal in rugby league which saw the athletes back on the field following the off-season break.

The counter-argument for continued drug testing is that that it promotes and provides the best possible environment for an even playing field. It makes athletes more accountable for their health and supports the ideal that good sportsmanship and doping are incompatible.