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Performance Enhancing Drugs

The issues around performance enhancement drugs usage in sport are diverse, multifaceted and more often than not interconnected. It is quite clear that most of the elite sportsmen and women have turned to performance-enhancing drugs with an aim of gaining undeserved advantage over their competitors (Lee 2006). A performance-enhancing drug is defined as any substance taken in non medical doses deliberately for the function of improving sports performance and output (Fuller and Mark 1996). A substance should be regarded as performance enhancing if it gives an advantage on sports performance by escalating the strength, power, speed, or endurance or still by changing the body weight or body structure (Lee 2006). In addition, materials that enhance performance by inducing alterations in behavior, level of arousal, or sensitivity of pain should be regarded as performance enhancing. It is commonly referred to as doping. Several bodies have been instituted to monitor doping in professional sports among them World Anti-Doping Agency which is the most active institution. This paper aims at serving as an all-purpose article on the broad issue of use and misuse of performance enhancing drugs in sport. It starts by giving a far-reaching historical development of use and misuse of performance enhancement drugs in sports, from the very old Romans to the current East German Olympic swimming team to the steroids scandal in the major league baseball. The paper proceeds to give an in-depth investigation and analysis of the baseball scandal. The paper concludes by discussing how the scandal was handled and providing an alternative solution to the problem.

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History of Performance-enhancing Drugs in Sports

In 1886, 24year old Welsh cyclist, Linton Arthur died at some point in a race from Bordeaux to Paris. The cause of his death was unclear and was reported to be caused by typhoid fever. However, he is allegedly believed to have used trimethyl which is an artificial stimulant. In 1954, the then U.S.S.R. dominates the sport of power-lifting. The Soviet team doctor supposedly reveals the team's utilization of testosterone injections to U.S. weightlifting doctor John Ziegler who embarks on creating a refined compound that would have qualities of the testosterone steroid of building muscles but with reduced side effects. Later in1960, the magazine Sports Illustratedpublishes an article titled “Our Drug-Happy Athletes” which exposed use of amphetamines, tranquilizers, cocaine and other performance enhancement drugs in the top flight sports. The same magazine Sports Illustrated in 1969 gives a thorough investigation on performance-enhancing drugs in sports. It predicts that the use of such drugs will ultimately burst out into an epidemic.

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In 1973 the East German women swim team takes home 10 out of the contested 14 gold medals at the inaugural swimming world championships in Belgrade. This raises suspicions. The International Olympic Committee in 1975 includes anabolic steroids to its list of banned substances. In 1976, the East German women swim team wins 11 of the 13 personal gold medals setting eight world records at the Montreal Olympics. In 1983, Chicago weightlifter Jeff Michels is stripped of three gold medals together with 3 others when they test positive for anabolic steroids. 13 members of the U.S. athletics team pull out of the competition. In 1988 Ben Johnson establishes a record time of 9.79 seconds in the 100 meters competition at the Seoul Olympics. However, his time is removed from record books and the gold medal stripped after testing positive to anabolic steroid Stanozol. In 1990 congress classifies steroids as schedule III and in 1991, 20 former East German coaches admit to administering anabolic steroids to their swimmers.

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In 1998 Michelle Smith's quick rise to stardom is under suspicion when the Irish swimmer misses several drug tests. She later tries to dilute her urine sample for a surprise drug test. She is suspended for four years. In 1998 the Festina team is expelled from Tour de France after the director admission that he supervised the provision of his team with performance-enhancing drugs. 6 of the 21 teams voluntarily drop out of the Tour. Richard Virenque, a Festina rider who admitted to using banned substances, is suspended from international competition for 9 months. In 1999, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA is formed. In 2006 Floyd Landis wins the Tour de France but his Phonak team verifies that he tested positive for testosterone. Marion Jones in 2007 is stripped of the 5 medals she won in Sydney. In 2008, six NFL players are suspended for taking steroid masking agents. In 2009, US swimmer Michael Phelps is caught smoking marijuana and receives a 9 months suspension. Later the same year, NBA player Rashard Lewis receives 10 game suspensions for banned substance. In 2010, Floyd Landisconfesses that he used steroids for most of his career. In 2011, Manny Ramirez retires from active baseball after failing another drug test (Mitchell 2007). In the same year, Mike Jacobs is suspended for 50games due to use of banned substances. In 2012, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is found guilty of using performance enhancement drugs and stripped off title.

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