Steroids. The simple mention of the word brings up topics like cheating, unfair advantages and shortcuts. For decades now, steroids have been a topic of discussion among just about every major sport.
The last decade has seen an increase in efforts from officials to ban the use of steroids in all major sports in the United States. Boxing, football and baseball tend to get the most attention regarding steroids, but the problem exists in just about every sport out there, with the exception of table tennis and billiards perhaps.
Most of what we hear about steroids in the press is negative. People say that anyone taking steroids is taking a shortcut, which is understandable since you are using something synthetic as a substitute for something your body can produce naturally.
What you never seem to hear is the positive side of the steroid debate. The first misconception is that all steroids are used for muscle building.
This is not at all the case, as even birth control pills are a form of steroids. The uses far outreach simply bulking up on muscle. Steroids can be used to increase certain enzymes a person's body may have trouble creating naturally, such as testosterone, which is vital in the development in growing men.
Other uses for steroids include treating asthma. I had asthma as a child, and I had an inhaler for a short time; the inhaler used steroids to help my lungs beat the sickness. Without the steroids, I might still have a hacking cough and trouble running.
Cancer patients and patients with different anemias are given steroids to help maintain muscle mass and increase appetite. For years, anabolic steroids have been used to treat bone marrow illnesses and growth conditions as well.
Recent studies have actually supported the use of steroids for senior citizens to help reduce bone loss and maintain muscle ability.
Many athletes have used anabolic steroids prescribed by doctors to help with the acceleration of the healing process with muscle and bone injuries.
The real reason steroids are such a taboo in sports is the misuse and illegal distribution of them. Uneducated athletes will use steroids as a way of increasing muscle mass and speed when their body is perfectly capable of producing the necessary chemicals naturally.
When players take steroids unnecessarily, it is viewed as a form of cheating, and it should be. When you use something to gain an unfair advantage, then you should be punished. It's these people who ruin the validity of actual prescriptions for steroids.
Many athletes over the years have tested positive for steroids and claimed they were prescribed for injuries or other various ailments. These claims are often viewed as fake, and the athlete is punished regardless of whether or not they have done anything wrong.
This is a common occurrence in pro wrestling. Rey Mysterio was suspended for violating a steroid policy held by WWE because he failed to produce a valid prescription, but after the suspension was over, it came to light that his prescription was indeed valid.
Can they do a better job of regulating steroids
Other players and athletes in the past have had to suffer from the illegal distribution of steroids by certain doctors, negating the legitimacy of their own steroids use.
One doctor in particular was tied to several MMA, boxing and wrestling athletes a few years ago for having issued out invalid prescriptions for anabolic steroids. Many of these athletes may have had legitimate claims for the use of these drugs, yet they were punished because of all the times people used them illegally.
This is a topic that will always have a negative connotation to it. There have been so many more people who have been caught using steroids for the wrong reasons as there are people using them for the right reasons that their proper application is almost forbidden.
Many sports commissions will accept a prescription for certain types of steroids, but the fact that many of these come from doctors who are less than ethical makes it a problem for those who actually benefit from them.
Younger athletes in particular have benefited from the proper application of steroids. Children with growth issues, muscle building issues and asthmatic conditions can use steroids to grow into healthy adults capable of doing things they would have otherwise never been able to consider, like running.
Please do not misconstrue what I am saying.. Illegal steroid use is unacceptable, and anyone caught using them should be punished accordingly, but I am saying there needs to be a better policy in place for the proper regulation of their uses.
Doing this would be difficult as many athletes can obtain fake prescriptions using their insane salaries to pay people willing to provide them with the right paperwork. What needs to happen is the American Medical Association needs to step in and create a system where athletes can get the proper steroids they need for whatever reason without coming under scrutiny for using them only to gain an advantage.
Steroids are designed for short term use to help spurn the body into producing these chemicals on their own and to help the body heal quicker, but prolonged use can reverse the effects and stop the body from producing these chemicals naturally, thus giving the athlete health problems later in life, and in some cases, a decreased size in their manhood.
Basically my point is this. There are a lot of misconceptions about steroids out there and people need to educate themselves in order to form a reasonable opinion on the matter. I am not saying every player should start receiving a syringe before every game; I am saying there needs to be better regulation so the people who are not taking advantage of the system are not victims because of those who do take advantage of the system.