The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Legal Performance-Enhancing Drugs can be Dangerous

By Staff Writer Ansh Patel

Though most professional athletic leagues and prestigious athletic competitions have taken extensive measures to ban athletes from taking certain performance-enhancing drugs, many substances from injectable peptides to painkillers still remain legal. While these are not as dangerous or influential as the banned substances, legal performance-enhancing drugs often have serious, lasting effects and can be a gateway to using more dangerous substances.

The motives for taking performance-enhancing drugs vary among athletes and their sports. While some use reparative drugs to recover from injury, others take adrenaline-inducing drugs for a boost during competitions that require added effort that an athlete may otherwise not be able to give. However, most drugs that achieve these purposes, such as erythropoietin and anabolic steroids, have long been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and these bans are rigorously enforced through regular drug testing on all athletes.

The most common legal performance-enhancing drugs are very popular among athletes of all sports. Drugs like telmisartan, meldonium, and T3 liothyronine fall under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s monitoring drug list, which outlines drugs that are legal for athletes to consume, but their intake must be carefully monitored and regulated.

The three drugs serve a wide range of purposes from inducing weight loss to treating high blood pressure. These functions are obviously useful for bodybuilders and professional fighters who need to constantly maintain a certain weight and be able to quickly lose or gain body mass, or for athletes who need to take medication to counteract high blood pressure.         Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that all these drugs have their downsides. Misuse of drugs can be dangerous and even fatal, but that doesn’t stop athletes and coaches from actively seeking any substance that could increase performance. For example, Alberto Salazar, a head coach for the Nike Oregon Project, only recommends his athletes to doctors who regularly prescribe legal performance-enhancing drugs.  While it can be argued that the increased use of these drugs would create uneven and unfair competition, the most direct harm is to the athletes, who are putting their bodies at great risk by taking substances to alter their bodies. Jon Mannah, a player on the Australian National Rugby League, died in 2013 after the drug GHRP-6, a peptide drug not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances, sped up his cancer. To further show the extent of the problem, the drugs were given to him by his own teammates and coaching staff, who wanted better performance from the player.

Because their effects may not be as deadly or drastic as banned substances, many athletes mistakenly underestimate any harmful effects of legal performance- enhancing drugs, which may lead to unwanted, detrimental consequences. At the end of the day,  athletes should tread with caution and consult a qualified doctor when dealing with any form of legal medication or drugs.

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