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TIFFIN - Everyone with a knowledge of sports knows Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and doping has been around for centuries.
What started with the ancient Greeks has evolved into something used by many famous athletes such as Sammy Sosa and Lance Armstrong.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, this illegal practice is used by around 1 million Americans every year.
Since athletes around the world are using drugs, many think legalizing steroids will fix the problem. However, The consequences greatly outweigh the benefits and therefore they should not be allowed at any level.
The first problem with legalizing PEDs is the health risks. All drugs, including PEDs, have extreme, long-term, negative effects on a person's physical and mental states. Someone who chooses to take these drugs is asking for health problems in the present and in the future.
Not only are they risking their athletic career, but also their overall well-being for the need to get a leg up on the competition. Why should the choice of harming themselves be given to athletes? Plus, if most athletes are deciding to use steroids, then many of the players who do not wish to suffer from the long-term effects will feel coerced into using illegal substances themselves. This could result in them slowly killing themselves in order to stay at the new competitive level set by the steroid users.
Another problem is legalizing steroids will not keep players from getting a leg up. It will only increase the problem. If athletes are legally allowed to take a specific amount of drugs, for example, who's to stop them from illegally taking even more? At this point, it becomes an endless cycle of athletes taking more and more to try to stay ahead of the competition.
Let's not forget about the kids, the ones who grow up watching their favorite athletes. They spend their whole allowances saving up to buy their role-model's jersey. They put in hours of work on the field or the court, in order to be just like that one person. Until that idol gets busted for doping.
The kids may have one of two reactions. They may go the rest of their lives with crushed hearts, or they may take a cue from that athlete and start using steroids themselves.
Legalizing steroids will further increase the desire of these kids to start doing them, too. Kids are impressionable, more than athletes care to realize. If everyone else is doing drugs, why wouldn't they?
Finally, allowing drugs in the sports world ultimately takes away from the true purpose of playing and watching sports because we love them. Most people know the old saying, 'It's not about if you win or lose, but about how you played the game.” PEDs devalue the underlying meaning of that statement because it centers everything around just the opposite: winning and losing. It diminishes the core values that should drive an athlete, including character, integrity, sportsmanship, skill and talent. In fact, it makes the athletes seem fake and only powered by an unnatural substance that should not be found in one's body.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has many efforts in order to make sure sports remain clean. They help athletes of all levels know their responsibility when it comes to anti-doping, and they keep them honest by performing drug tests, specifically on college and professional players.
As for us, we have to make sure we are not encouraging these bad behaviors. It is important to realize the many risks of legalizing PEDs and take whatever actions possible in order to protect athletes and the nature of the sport itself.