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ISSUE 118 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/22/2004

Steriods: Showcase talent, not drugs

By Joel Stjernholm
Sports Editor


Friday, October 22, 2004

The international athletic community was shocked to discover an inordinate number of Olympic athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs. I write shocked because the coaches, athletes and medical staff involved have long known about the doping problem. The amount of athletes doping this year wasnt inordinate; there was merely an inordinate amount of discovery.

There is also speculation that 1996 National League MVP Ken Caminitis recent death was expedited by steroid use.

In addition to banned substances, a number of currently legal but disputed drugs have made their way to the sports scene. Among them, Ephedrine and Creatin are the best known. Not only do athletes consuming of these drugs violate the fair play expectation inherent in sports, but they put the athletes in grave danger. Among the strongest reasons performance-enhancers should be banned:

1. Athletes who rely on performance enhancing drugs are less impressive than those who depend on their own natural ability and hard work. I would rather watch a gifted drug-free cyclist compete for the Tour de France title than one who has synthetically increased his athletic ability.

2. Even legal supplements can be dangerous. Products containing Ephedrine and similar drugs are often used by athletes to increase their stamina. These supplements increase the athletes heart rate, moving oxygen-filled blood through the body more quickly. The problem: there is no method, other than exercise, which safely allows athletes to increase their heart rates.

3. Chemically enhancing performance is disrespectful to great players of the past. To use baseball as an example, players who down Creatin in order to crack 70 homeruns a year or smoke a 100mph fastball have an unfair advantage over Satchel Paige, Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Josh Gibson, Jackie Robinson and Lou Gehrig.

4. If you lose, you lose. I hate losing more than anyone, but no one wins every game. Michael Jordan lost nearly 300 games in his career, and missed 30 game winning shots. The possibility that an athletes natural talent may not propel them to victory in the upper-echelons of athletic competition shouldnt be feared; thats just how life works.

What supplements are okay for athletes to take? Any supplements that supply benefits available from food should always be available. A football player needs protein after he lifts; to get that protein, he could drink a protein shake, or eat a chicken. We can spare the chicken and the athlete by permitting the healthy, all-natural protein drink.

Sports cannot be fair and athletes will not be safe unless all unnatural performance-enhancing substances are banned, frequent random testing is performed to monitor its consumption as well as drugs that mask illegal chemicals and meaningful sanctions are imposed against players, companies, coaches and doctors who promote their use.





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