The Impact of Performance Enhancing Drugs on the Olympics Essay

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The use of performance enhancing drugs is undermining the integrity of the Olympic games. It is impossible to accurately determine the number of athletes who use them, but it is believed that a substantial percentage do. According to an anonymous Soviet coach, "Perhaps 90% of sportsmen, including our own, use drugs" (CASA 40). One reason it is difficult to determine how many athletes "dope" is that in international events like the Olympics, the methods used to detect the use of these drugs simply are not effective. So, although only a few athletes are caught, many benefit from their use of performance enhancing drugs. It is unfortunate and unacceptable that such high level competition be marred by athletes' drug use. The …show more content…
In the Olympics, the use of anabolic steroids can be traced back as far as 1954, when Soviet weightlifters began taking anabolic steroids (Zorpette 17). Since then, the use of this drug, as well as many others, has increased dramatically.

In addition to the growing number of anabolic steroids, new ways to enhance one's performance are emerging. Two fairly recent drugs that have had a significant affect on competition are erythropoietin, or EPO, and human growth hormone, or hGH. These two drugs pose significant problems because current testing methods cannot detect them (Zorpette 17). Human growth hormone enhances performance because it decreases one's fat mass, and EPO serves to augment the number of circulating red blood cells, which in turn allows for more oxygen to be carried to muscles in the body (Zorpette 19). Other advantages that performance enhancing drugs give to the athlete include increased endurance, the narrowing of blood cells, and even a slowed heartbeat, which enables archers and shooters to better steady themselves during competition.

Other problems with drug use in the Olympics involve the availability and relative ease with which athletes obtain performance enhancing drugs, and methods for avoiding detection. Although it is illegal for a sports physician to prescribe or give an Olympian a banned substance, it happens very often
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