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RUNNING HEAD: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS

Performance-Enhancing Drug use amongst Football Athletes: A Literature Review


Treyvon Hughes
University of Texas at El Paso
October 13, 2015

RUNNING HEAD: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS


Abstract
Performance enhancing drugs have always been prevalent in the sports world. Athletes use it to
gain an edge on their competition by becoming bigger, faster, and stronger. Performance
enhancing drugs have been illegal for athletes to use because not only does it harm your body,
but it can also kill you if taken in excessive amounts.

RUNNING HEAD: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS

Performance-Enhancing Drug use amongst Football Athletes:


Since the start of the first Olympic games, there has always been athletes that have
chosen to use performance enhancing drugs during training and competition to be bigger and
better than their opponents to win. According to the Mayo Clinic (2012), performance enhancing
drugs are drugs that enhance performance that increase muscle mass and strength. Some
examples of performance enhancing drugs are: anabolic steroids, androstenedione, human
growth hormone, erythropoietin, diuretics, creatine and stimulants. Studies on these drugs have
shown that they do enhance muscular strength, if taken in smaller doses than normal, by 5-20%
(Savulescu, Foddy & Clayton, 2004). Creatine has shown to improve performance in repeated
bouts of high-intensity strength work and sprints and anabolic steroids have also shown to
increase protein synthesis, euphoria, and decreasing catabolism (Gregory & Fitch, 2007). But,
even though these drugs have shown to help improve an athletes performance, there are some
serious health risks that can be attained from the use of these drugs. Anabolic steroid use has
been shown to cause decrease in the production of testosterone, testicular atrophy, gynecomastia
in males and masculinization in females to name a few (Gregory & Fitch, 2007). The use of these
drugs is considered cheating because it violates the spirit of the sport as declared by the World
Anti-Doping agency. It does not promote fair play and honesty, teamwork, respect for rules and
laws and respect for self and other participants (Savulescu, Foddy & Clayton, 2004).
Performance enhancing drugs have been made illegal and are banned from use in all sports.

RUNNING HEAD: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS

For these reasons, the debate continues on whether performance enhancing drugs should
be no longer banned but be legalized and deserves consideration through the review of these five
questions:
1. What are the consequences of allowing performance enhancing drugs in NCAA football and
the NFL?
2. What can the NFL and NCAA football do to minimize and reduce the use of performance
enhancing drugs?
3. How would the sports world react if performance enhancing drugs were no longer banned
but, allowed?
4. Why do football athletes continue to use performance enhancing drugs even if they are
aware of the side effects they give?
5. What do you think will happen to the sport of football if athletes are playing on the field
under the influence of performance enhancing drugs?
Literature Review
What are the consequences of allowing performance enhancing drugs in NCAA football and the
NFL?
There are many consequences that would follow if performance-enhancing drugs were no
longer banned in NCAA football and the NFL. First, the consequences that are well recognized
are the serious side effects that these drugs can cause if used a great deal. Aside from some of the
examples that were listed in the introduction, androgenic-anabolic steroids also cause clotting,
myocardial infarction, stroke and even death (Gregory & Fitch, 2007). Another consequence that
can occur is that players who use the drugs have a better advantage than another team and that
deems as being unfair. The spirit of the sport will not be the same because you have players who

RUNNING HEAD: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS

have a better advantage of winning more games because their performance is off the charts
compared to a normal athlete who did not use the drugs (Savulescu, Foddy & Clayton, 2004).
What can the NFL and NCAA football do to minimize and reduce the use of performance
enhancing drugs?
The NFL can start making every player on every team take a drug test once a month
during the regular season. This mandate should also continue to be applied in NCAA football.
Presenting both the risks and benefits of anabolic steroid use is more affective in convincing
adolescents about steroids negative effects(National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2006). Educating
athletes about the effects of steroid use would really help and teach them to know that these are
dangerous drugs to take and that the effects could affect the rest of their lives.
How would the sports world react if performance enhancing drugs were no longer banned
but, allowed?
If performance enhancing drugs were legalized, there would be a mixed reaction by the
sports world. People say that the drugs should have already been legalized decades ago and
others say that they should continue to be banned for a few reasons such as that the drugs are bad
and that using drugs constitute as cheating. According to an article on Fox Sports, a former
athlete stated that article Legalization would also allow the drugs to be manufactured in FDAregulated facilities, so athletes could be more confident about dosing, purity, contamination and
other safety issues,(Perez, 2012). This means that some people believe that because these
drugs are manufactured by the FDA, the drugs are deemed to be safe and not dangerous.
Currently, many of these drugs are easily accessible and are not regulated by the FDA which
would mean that these drugs can be made by anyone and may not be safe to take. On the other

RUNNING HEAD: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS

hand, some people think that these drugs should not be legalized because they believ7e that
the athletes might take advantage of the legalized drugs and from there things could get out of
control (Perez, 2012). Athletes could overdose on the drugs and also become addicted to the
drugs. Breaking addiction, would hinder their performance and health.

Why do football athletes continue to use performance enhancing drugs even if they are
aware of the side effects they give?
According to many studies, performance enhancing drugs can cause many health issues
that can be detrimental. Even with the research that is available, football athletes continue to use
these drugs even with the knowledge that they can be harmful. Athletes use the drugs because
they can help with stress, help relieve pain and injuries and help improve athletic performance
(Reardon & Creado, 2014). Research has shown that athletes focus more on their performance
rather than on the effects that the drugs cause. Knowledge of the potentially dangerous
consequences from doping through educating athletes does not necessarily deter athletes from
using those (Reardon & Creado, 2014). Research has found that other methods other than
education should be used to have athletes change their minds about using the drugs. Optimal
nutrition, weight-training strategies, and psychological approaches are different methods of
helping an athlete boost their confidence with their own natural performance (Reardon &
Creado, 2014).
What do you think will happen to the sport of football if athletes are playing on the field
under the influence of performance enhancing drugs?
Research has shown that the spirit of the sport would be lost if performance enhancing
drusg were to be legalized (Savulescu, Foddy & Clayton, 2004). Playing in competition while
under the influence of these drugs would be cheating because these athletes would not be playing

RUNNING HEAD: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS

using their own natural abilities. It would not be fair for the other athletes because they would be
playing with athletes that are stronger and faster.
In conclusion, the research on performance enhancing drugs has shown that the drugs are
bad overall even though they enhance performance and improve strength. These drugs can cause
serious health problems such as coronary heart issues, gynecomastia, and testicular atrophy, to
name a few. Research has also shown that there is a split opinion on whether the use of these
drugs should be legalized or not. The people who are pro legalization believe that the drugs that
are legalized will reduce the access to drugs that are not regulated by the FDA and reduce the use
of these drugs. On the other hand, people who believe that these drugs should not be legalized
because the drugs are dangerous and would be considered cheating if they were allowed. More
has to be done to reduce the access of these drugs and help prevent the addiction of these drugs
through counseling, weight-training, and nutrition education.

RUNNING HEAD: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS

References
Gregory, A.J.M. & Fitch, R.W. (2007). Sports medicine: Performance-enhancing drugs. Pediatr
Clin North Am, 54(4), 797-806.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012, December 12). Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks.
Performance-enhancing drugs. Retrieved from
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-

lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/performance-enhancing-

drugs/art-20046134
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2006). Anabolic steroid abuse: What can be done to prevent
steroid abuse?
Perez, A.J. 2012. Should pro leagues allow peds? Fox Sports. Retrieved from
http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/should-pro-sports-leagues-end-testing-forperformance-enhancing-drugs-PED-steroids-082912.
Reardon, C.L. & Creado, S. (2014). Drug abuse in athletes. Substance Abuse Rehabilitation, 5,
95-105.
Savulescu, J., Foddy, B. & Clayton M. (2004). Why we should allow performance enhancing
drugs in sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(6), 666-670.