Are players pressured to take PEDs to improve their game?
No matter where you look or what sport you play, there is a pressure to be the best, and sometimes with pressure comes consequences.
Athletes are just looking for an edge, which sometimes is performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) said Zachary Voss, a former linebacker for the Louisiana Tech University football team and a student currently pursuing a master’s of science in sports performance.
“Training [in the offseason] can make or break an upcoming football season,” Voss said. “This is where PEDs can come to mind as an edge in the offseason.”
PEDs allow players to perform beyond their capabilities as a normal athlete, said Dr. David Szymanski, an associate professor of kinesiology.
“PEDs are some type of supplement or hormone that enhance the average human’s ability to perform at a very high level,” he said.
The use of steroids in NCAA sports is illegal and tested for at all championship events. The NCAA also sponsors education programs meant to educate athletes on the dangers of steroid use and their policies against the usage of performance enhancing drugs.
Szymanski agreed with Voss and said recovery is the biggest asset a player gets from using PEDs.
“Recovery, in my opinion, is so key during the offseason with strenuous workouts always going on,” Voss said. “PEDs offer faster recovery to maximize training sessions leading to consistent workouts.”
Szymanski said even though there are some benefits, they are not worth the longtime side effects players receive throughout the rest of their lives.
“There aren’t a lot of long-term studies because none of the hospitals or universities will allow them,” Szymanski said. “So we have to base our research off of anecdotal data, which is looking at what’s happened to former athletes who have used these drugs.”
Szymanski said former Major League Baseball All-Star Jose Canseco is a great example of the long-term effects when he tried to get off of PEDs after 25 years of continued usage.
“He was having suicidal thoughts, was very lethargic and had no sex drive,” Szymanski said. “His doctor told him he had the testosterone level of a prepubescent boy.”
He said Canseco’s body stopped producing testosterone due to the body’s recognition of so much testosterone in his system for so long.
Both Voss and Szymanski agree there are many internal factors causing players to burden themselves.
“Pressures come from the want to perform well,” Voss said. “[Those wants] can come from coaches expecting big things from a player, keeping a scholarship or making it to the next level.”
Szymanski said players like Canseco sometimes used these drugs because they feel like entertainers more than athletes.
“Fans want to see gladiators fighting in a coliseum in Rome,” he said. “We don’t have that anymore so now they look to baseball, football and soccer.”
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