In the fall of 1996, Newsweek magazine ran a cover story on testosterone and its effects on aging. According to the article, men who take testosterone can stave off some of the effects of getting older, including loss of muscle mass, strength, energy, and libido.

What was most interesting was that the widespread use of testosterone in athletes was not mentioned at all! Yet testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, is the basis for all anabolic steroids. Also in the fall of 1996, several news magazines featured stories about the increase in recreational drug use, heroin specifically, among youth.

After a decline of several years in the use of this dangerous drug, teenagers are again experimenting. With the emphasis in recent years on anti-drug campaigns, how was it possible that anyone missed the message that heroin is a life wrecker and a killer?

How are these separate messages about different types of drug use tied together? They are associated because these articles illustrate the American ambivalence about drug taking. As a nation, we rely heavily on pills. Many people take vitamins and other so-called supplements such as creatine, DHEA, and melatonin in dosages that constitute drug treatment. It would be possible to conclude from advertising that nothing in the human body works very well and must always be assisted by medications. We fear aging and psychological distress, and we believe drugs can help.

You may be surprised to learn that Americans have been strug-
gling with drug control problems for more than 100 years. For a brief period at the turn of the century, cocaine was even legal in the United States. At the time of the Civil War, a number of people were addicted to an opium-based preparation.

track if some horses were doped and others were not. What .
treat pain and discomfort. One researcher has suggested that mood alteration is a human drive, and if that is so, it may be difficult to ever
Until the advent of modern chemistry, physical alteration through
children born with the 5kits genetic code for dwarfism can be treated with
their sports performance. In a drug-tolerant society, many people not
only don't care, they don't understand why it should be a matter of
nation of entertainment and big business, and the important items
public concern. Some fans reason that sports have become a combi-
are good matchups, action, outstanding performances, and appeal-
take drugs to make the magic happen, what's the difference?
Now think about what sports represents: the finest in physical
with no objections because everyone agrees that it wouldn't be a level
to an opium-based preparation
stop recreational drug use completely.
human growth hormones and develop normally
. The sex hormones
that are responsible for changing boys to men at puberty
in synthetic form by adult males and females to gain strength and
power; this has been happening in the athletic community for more
There are two important things to bear in mind about taking
hormones. First, they are very powerful drugs that affect both mind
and body, and we do not know what their long-term effects may be.
Certainly, there are some mostly reversible short-term negative
effects. Second, when elite athletes take drugs in secret to enhance
their physical sports performance, they alter the whole nature of the
sports contest.
The fact that these drugs are dangerous is not the only reason to bar
them. Many sports carry an inherent risk of injury-look at bobsled-
ding, skiing, football, gymnastics, and wrestling, just to name a few.
However, suppose that a drug that made athletes faster was avail-
able. A cross-country skier who had invested 20 years in learning his
sport would certainly be heartbroken to be beaten by a skier whose
performance was improved with such a drug. Is that a fair contest?
Is that what we want from sports?
Ask yourself if you care whether professional, Olympic,
college athletes use anabolic steroids and other drugs to enhance
or even
and striving and will.
the point of such a contest?

Author's Bio: 

Charles Cowert Editor at Human Kinetics