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Analysis of Drugs Used by Athletes

The Centers for Disease Control note that roughly five percent of high school athletes take performance enhancing drugs; the National Collegiate Athletic Association says nearly 60 percent of athletes take supplements which may contain banned substances (Kowalski, 2003, 7). Athletes use the drugs for several reasons: to build body mass and strengthen muscles; to increase oxygen delivery to exercising muscles; to mask pain; to generally stimulate the body; to relax and reduce stress; to lose weight; and to mask the use of other drugs (Freudenrich, 2004).

The drugs used depend on the effects desired by the athlete. They are known as "roids," "hype," "pump," and "juice," by athletes, and are either taken orally or injected (Bruce, 2002). Anabolic steroids, which are chemicals similar to sex hormones, e.g. synthetic testosterone, help the body build muscle (Freudenrich, 2004; Kowalski, 2003, 7). They help the athlete train longer and harder. Other synthetic anabolic steroids mimic this action. The substances are turned into hormones in the body to produce their desired effects. Anabolic steroids have dramatic and visible effects, but carry serious risks. There are immediate risks in terms of psychiatric effects such as mood swings, personality changes, and violent outbursts. People with no criminal history have been known to commit murder on steroids. Many users suffer from withdrawal depression if they stop using the drugs, which fosters a dependency on them.

Because testosterone is a male hormone, normally only present in small amounts in females, female athletes taking anabolic steroids develop male characteristics (Freudenrich, 2004; Kowalski, 2003, 8). Their voices grow deeper, and they may grow beards and get more body hair. Steroids also interfere with their menstrual cycle, and they may become infertile. Males, on the other hand, by upsetting the normal hormone balance, become less masculine, and the testicle...

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