In the passed few years there has been an increase in the popularity of performance-enhancing supplements that are used by athletes. Some of the most popular of these supplements are creatine and androstenedione. They are used by some very famous athletes in professional sports. There are many problems that go along with using these supplements that are not only health-wise, but also the message that is being sent to children involved in youth athletics. Athletes today are not thinking of what kind effects will happen to them in the long run.
However, they are looking for easier ways of training and enhancing their erformance. They are under a great deal of pressure to succeed and win all the time that it must be easier to find a short cut to being an elite athlete. In this paper I will explore the risks with these supplements, some regulations that are placed on athletes to, and if they truly work. Also I will give an overview of what both creatine and androstenedione are. Introduction For as long as I can remember I have been involved in athletics of all kinds and have always loved the atmosphere that sports provide.
Being involved in both high school basketball and golf and now finally playing golf for Xavier, I have een subjected to rigorous training and conditioning. Never once did I have the aid of any type of artificial supplement or performance-enhancing drug helping me condition or build muscles faster. However, when I was in high school I was aware of may guys who were taking these supplements such as creatine and androstenedione and getting very muscular, extremely fast. Creatine and androstenedione were common words used around the halls of my school.
Hearing these words made me curious about what exactly they were, what the effects they had on athletes, and if they were illegal. I found it very interesting hat these supplements were somehow all over the news and that some really famous athletes had used them. I wondered if they were safe to use and if they had any side effects. In researching this topic of artificial supplements and performance-enhancing drugs, I had many mixed feelings about how I felt about their use by athletes. However, after my research was completed I have a firm opinion that these supplements should be banned from athletics all together.
Research Questions Many questions came up during my research of these performance-enhancing supplements. Among one of my first questions was, What exactly are creatine and androstenedione? This and many of the other questions I had about the supplements were answered for me in a recent article from People Weekly entitled Hazard Alert. (muscle-building supplements taken by athletes) which was a interview of correspondent Jennifer Longley by Charles Yesalis, a professor at Penn State who spent 19 years studying the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes.
According to this article: Creatine is an amino acid in everyones body. Its taken to significantly enhance reserves in your muscle fuel tank, allowing you to work out onger and more intensely. Theres no evidence to show that its anabolic–that is, that its going to build muscle in and of itself. But it could lead to modest muscle gain because it allows you to work out harder. Androstenedione is a sex steroid hormone, which is converted in your body to testosterone. The controversy is whether it is anabolic, and whether it increases testosterone when taken in large quantities.
Its legally classified as a food supplement. But I think thats bunk. Its a drug. (Hazard Alert 143). After fully understanding the meaning of these definitions and explanations I became more curious. Grasping the whole concept of these supplements was hard enough for the average person to handle and how scientific everything has truly become. No longer are athletes alone in training, but now have the aid of these supplements. It seems as almost an unfair advantage over other athletes who are not using these artificial aids.
After thinking of these supplements as an unfair advantage I needed proof that they did work. Longley had come to this conclusion, Theres credible evidence that creatine does work. . . The gains in energy and strength are small–but significant enough to be very valuable to a competitive athlete. Im skeptical about androstenedione. I could make an argument that it does work, but Ive heard some anecdotal evidence that it does. (Hazard Alert 143). Also in Longleys answer to if creatine works she rates creatine on a scale from 0 to 100 of performance-enhancing abilities as about a 15 and anabolic steroids being 100.
So this shows that it doesnt have the most evident effect on the athlete as say steroids but it does have a minimum effect on performance-enhancing. Then after discovering if these supplements work the next question that arose was, What are the side effects? From Longleys research: To date, side effects reported from taking creatine are gastrointestinal–gas and muscle cramping. But that doesnt mean we wont discover something serious in five to ten years. The risks of androstenedione havent been thoroughly studied. If you really load this up in the body, this drug may impact hormones and organs in ways that I couldnt even imagine.
If it is converted to testosterone, then youd have the traditional effects that you see with testosterone, including liver damage and increased risk of stroke. In young kids, a large level of the hormone may falsely signal the body into shutting down their growth plates. If God had scheduled them to be 63, they may end up being 510. For girls or women, it could permanently masculinize them, causing a 5 oclock shadow or a deep voice. (Hazard Alert 143). For the most part these side effects are not extremely dangerous, but they can lead to hazardous health problems down the road.
Also considering the fact that for the most part these supplements are fairly new on the market there hasnt been enough extensive research done to show how much damage can be done to an athlete. After all taking excessive amounts of any of these two supplements can lead to xtreme problems that could be fatal. Like the research shows for excessive use of testosterone androstenedione increases ones risk of having liver damage or even more deadly, a stroke. Another question that Longley addressed in her interview was that of, Why is androstenedione banned in some sports but not in others?
I found her response to this question very interesting. Her answer was very opinionated and the reason that she gave were very comical. She stated: I think the National Basketball Association, pro baseball and the National Hockey league have had the luxury of keeping their hands in the sand hen it comes to performance-enhancing drugs because the public has not perceived them as having been a problem in those sports unlike in the NFL. Baseball doesnt eve have the pretense of drug testing. But there are estimates that 10 to 30 percent of pro baseball players and 50 to 80 percent of football linemen have used steroids at some point.
Theres a conspiracy of silence. The attitude is, do what you have to do to win, but keep your mouth shut. (Hazard Alert 143). I think that this answer to the question of why androstenedione is not banned from some sports, but banned from others is very accurate. It is true that people involved in sports would rather look the other way when it comes to athletes taking supplements that enhance their performance. Fans dont care as long as they are entertained and are having fun at games and coaches just want their teams to be successful. Which sometimes includes doing other forms of training or aids to help the athletes.
It is ridiculous that such a high percent of athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs or steroids to help them get bigger. I always learned that in order to be a successful athlete a person would have to work endlessly. This is still true, but only to a certain extent because now an athlete can take pills to help them workout more. I think that is why it was so puzzling to me when I discovered that many newsworthy athletes had been using performance-enhancing supplements. I always have had the mindset that athletes could never buy their abilities and now that seems to be wrong because of these supplements.
Review of Literature The first article I found about creatine and androstenedione was from People Weekly entitled Hazard Alert. This article was excellent because it provided answers to almost all the questions that I had about these supplements. It had a very interesting interviews of people who have been researching these supplements for years. Also in this article I found out about Mark McGwires use of both creatine and androstenedione. It said that he had been using both supplements, but never did he make any attempt to cover this up or hide this from the media.
In this article it also said that sales of these supplements are going to skyrocket simply because of McGwires use of them. According to this article, . . . sales of the steroid (androstenedione) are expected to top $100 million this year, up from $5 million in 1997. (Hazard Alert 143). Another interesting fact that I learned was that, The national chain General Nutrition Centers has sent a memo to its 3,700 outlets telling them not to stock androstenedione, precisely because of safety concern. (Hazard Alert 143). Among the other articles I found was Jack McCallums article from Sports Illustrated called Swallow the pill.
This article mainly focused on the Mark McGwire fairy tale story of him breaking the most highly recognized record in baseball of Roger Mariss single-season homerun record. I found it to be very defensive of McGwire in that the author said, Get this straight: McGwires use of ndrostenedione, which he may not have advertised but didnt try to hide, should not taint his achievement if he breaks Roger Mariss homerun record. (McCallum 17). Also in this article was a number of different examples of others that are taking performance-enhancing supplements in baseball.
For example, . . . Houston Astros star Jeff Bagwell told The Houston Chronicle, two weeks before the McGwire storm erupted, that he had taken it (androstenedione). (McCallum 17). In this article McGwire is reported in saying that he is not alone and that at least nine or ten of his St. Louis teammates use androstenedione. This rticle too like the People Weekly article touches upon the idea of children thinking that they, . . . should not try to buy a baseball career in a bottle. (McCallum 17). I think that this is a very important idea to continue to drive into the minds of young people who want to be involved in athletics.
The article Shadow of Doubt: did drug use kill Florence Griffith Joyner? is another fascinating article that touches on the risks of performance-enhancing supplements. In this article the suspicions of Flo-Jo taking banned substances are addressed. According to Dr. Albert Fraser, a clinical-forensic toxicologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, The chances are nil that there are any traces of those drugs left in her body tissue. (Shadow of Doubt 62). So even if she did use illegal supplements during the Olympics there would be no way of ever being able to trace the substances in her body.
Also in this article Darrell Robinson reported to Stern, a German magazine, that he had bought human growth hormones for Flo-Jo prior to the Seoul Olympics. Her response to this report was, Darrell, you are a compulsive, crazy, lying lunatic. (Shadow of Doubt 62). This is another case that was very surprising to me because in this case she died nd of heart seizures which could have quiet possibly have been brought upon by performance-enhancing supplements. Dr. Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, a French sports physician and drug expert is quoted in saying that, It is probable that she used drugs, but others, notably in East Germany, did the same.
Other famous athletes are going to die and we will know it. (Shadow of Doubt 62). The doctors today are devoting a lot of effort to find out more information about these supplements and how they are going to effect athletes in the long run. Also Werner Franke, a German molecular biologist and expert in drugs and sports said hat, This death (of Florence Griffith Joyner) was foreseeable. (Shadow of Doubt 62). Finally, some doctors and scientists are paying more attention to the substances that athletes take in order to prevent more deaths among athletes that could have been prevented.
Drugs and Darwin fuel athletes contained similar information about the athletes I had already read about, but in every article I found there were differences about the same athletes. For example in this article I learned that, Mark McGwire is the first athlete in history to break a record while publicly admitting his use of performance-enhancing drugs. (Barnard 48). In this very opinionated article it touches upon some of the myths behind, the moral crusade against the use of drugs in sport.
One myth is that, . . . fans wont pay to see drug-aided athletes perform. Barnard 48). The other myth is, . . . using drugs means that athletes dont have to work for their achievements. (Barnard 48). In a way I agree with this myth simply because if an athlete is using performance-enhancing supplements then they have more energy to workout and these supplements also help build up muscles faster than without the aid of a supplement at all. So I dont see how athletes are totally working for their ccomplishments entirely all by themselves because without the aid of artificial supplements they would have to work a lot harder to build themselves up.
Eventhough I disagree with some comments in this article the one quote that I really did agree with was that of Nicholas Pierce. He says that, Athletes will always be pushing themselves to the limit; if you could help push them further, they will go further. This is very true because I know that I am willing to do almost anything to improve my golf game and if someone is willing to show me another way to do something I am all for learning new ideas and pushing myself to o better.
Another Sports Illustrated article called Throwing in the towel: beating a hasty retreat in the war on drugs, caught my attention because of the information it had on the International Olympic Committee. It seem as though lately there has been a number of cases involving Olympic athletes that have tested positive or have been suspended for drug violations. The IOC appears to be one of the most strict when it comes to drugs that are in violation of policy and that is why the statement of IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch was so shocking to the rest of the committee.
He said, The list of drugs banned from the Olympics ought to be drastically reduced to exclude performance-enhancing drugs that dont have dangerous side effects. (Rushin 17). Coming from the president this is probably not the reaction that one want to hear in fighting the war on banning performance-enhancing supplements from athletics. According to this article, in the last month U. S. shot-putter, Randy Barnes, and sprinter, Dennis Mitchell have been suspended by the International Amateur Athletics Federation for positive drug tests, also four Chinese swimmers received bans for drugs violations (Rushin 17).
Also the Irish swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin could possibly be banned from competition for life because of tampering with her urine sample in a drug test. This article is another controversial one that shows how many different opinions there are surrounding athletes use of performance-enhancing supplements. After finding out about Michelle Smith de Bruin I was curious to learn more about the story that enveloped her. I found the Time article With a Splash to give a more in-depth interpretation of what really happened. De Bruin won three gold medals at the Atlanta Olympics where she was an older competitor at he age of 26.
However, in her recent urine test there were, . . . no steroids, but did detect unequivocal signs of adulteration that would mask the drugs, by means of an after-the-fact addition of alcohol, probably whisky. (With a Splash 86). Even with this startling discovery De Bruin says, Im not going to crawl under a stone, and she plans on suing the international governing organization for swimmers and appealing their decision. Which was to ban her completely from ever competing again or at least for four years which would inevitably end her career because she would be too old.
Finally the article closes with a quote from five-time U. S. Olympic coach, Mark Schubert, Experienced people know the telltale signs of doing illegal things to get fast. So basically it is not worth the consequences of getting caught because somehow and some way everyone gets caught. Conclusion For the most part the rest of my resources reiterated all of my most informative articles that I used as major references when writing this research paper. Throughout my research it was very interesting to find many different opinions of the position of performance-enhancing supplements in athletics.
There is one side that is saying they should be banned totally and another that wants them to be allowed in competition as long as theyre not too much of an aid to the athletes that would make it unfair to other competitors. Personally, I am on the side that says they should be banned totally in all sporting events. My opinion is this way because being an athlete in really isnt necessary for a person to take something to enhance their performance even more and that the drive should come from within and not a pill or powder.
These supplements are also potentially angerous and I think that they come with a very negative image to children getting involved in athletics and witnessing professional athletes use them. I find it hard to believe that professional athletes need the assistance of creatine or androstenedione to help them train for their sport or event. Athletic ability doesnt come in an over-the-counter bottle and it will never. So I feel that it is pointless to use these supplements simply for the reason of getting big. In conclusion, these performance-enhancing supplements should be made less excessible and banned from athletic events.