Recreational and competitive athletes use drugs to enhance body composition and performance. There’s no use hiding your head in the sand as the reality of drug use can’t be hidden. It’s understandable that athletes want quicker results for their hard work, and they want to win. As such, they’ll make use of whatever they can to achieve their goals, sometimes to the detriment of their health.
We’ll go into the reasons of why atheltes use drugs, the drugs they use, what the advantages and disadvantages are, and almost everything about drug testing and doping control in the various amateur and professional sports.
As I wrote in the Introduction to my 1984 book on Drug Use and Detection in Amateur Sports:
Here was a time, many years ago, when athletes were genuine amateurs competing mainly for their own pleasure. The rewards were likely to be small – seldom much more than the personal satisfaction that comes from winning.
The athlete today can rarely compete just for his own pleasure. He has become a political weapon, a proof of ideological or national superiority. He carries a nations pride into the competition, and the pressure upon him to win is intense.
Moreover the financial rewards – at least in the western nations – can be enormous. Contracts for product endorsements or professional sports can run into the millions.
Under the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the athlete is constantly looking for some way to improve his performance, to gain a competitive edge. In recent years, he has tended to rely more and more on drugs to give him that edge.
In this respect he is no different from the rest of society. We are so drug-oriented that at the first sign of physical or emotional distress we reach for some appropriate drug.
In spite of this widespread public use of drugs, there seems to be general agreement -at least among officials of sports federations – that drugs should not be used to enhance performance. They feel that without such restrictions, a competitive event would not be a fair test of athletic ability; the winner might simply be the athlete with the most effective drug program.
Disapproval of drugs is also based upon consideration for the athlete’s physical well-being. No drug is without side effects and in most cases, no one is certain what the long-term effects might be, and the athlete who uses drugs without due caution may be at serious risk.
In an attempt to keep competition as fair as possible, and to minimize the risk to the athlete, there has been almost universal implementation of drug testing in amateur sports competition.
Proponents of drug testing believe that if testing is extensive enough, and sophisticated enough, drug use could be eliminated, not only from competition, but also from training in the months preceding the competition.
In spite of the apparent advantages of drug testing, there are those who object to it by arguing that banning well-known drugs will force athletes to seek other drugs for which there is no established testing procedure, and for which there may be no valid studies of long-term effects.
Between the proponents of drug banning, and the proponents of unrestricted use, there stands a third group that feels that drug testing should be quantitative rather than qualitative, and that the goal should be to prevent excessive use of drugs. Thus the athlete would be able to use smaller doses of certain drugs such as asthmatic preparations, cold medication, and narcotic analgesics, when there is true medical indication for the drug.
Regardless of the views held, it is essential that the present situation concerning drug use and testing be fully understood by everyone involved with both amateur and professional sports. We’ll try to look at the drug use phenomenon and try to explain this shifting and sometimes confusing situation.
We’ll be doing all of that and much more on this site.
It is my position that the use of drugs in sports can be eliminated if, and only if the athlete is given a more viable solution. A solution that provides the ergogenic effects of drugs without the potential adverse short term and long term effects. I firmly believe that this solution lies in the judicious use of cutting edge nutrition and nutritional supplements at the right place and time. Targeted nutrition and targeted nutritional supplements complement the anabolic effects that normally accrue from the right kind of training, keeping in mind that lifestyle changes are also important (proper sleep, reduced stress, regular habits, no drugs or alcohol, etc.).