Wow! Can you believe all of the news about anabolic steroids right now? It is really causing a stir but not necessarily for the right reasons. Let’s take a few moments to consider what makes the prevalent use of these performance enhancers besides the fact that people are “cheating.”
First let’s discuss whether this is really cheating or at least try to gain perspective on this. To do this we have to know what we are talking about. Anabolic means to build up (rather than catabolic which means to tear apart or break down). Steroid is just a type of molecule that is found in the body and because of its makeup serves as a hormone and regulates the synthesis of DNA by entering the nucleus and attaching itself to different parts of the machinery that produces the DNA. So these anabolic steroids are simply substances that go to muscle, among other tissue, and build it up.
Basically they are just adding to an already natural process that goes on in all of our bodies. Those people who naturally have higher levels of these hormones are going to have naturally bigger muscles and also greater potential if they work them. So the question then is, is it really ability that goes into being extra strong or is it a crap shoot. I for one choose the latter and for this reason don’t think that it is cheating so much as potentiating the actual ability that someone has in a sport. There are two big reasons for my thinking. First you still have to work hard to have big muscles while taking steroids. Second you still have to be good at swinging a bat and choosing the right pitch to be good at hitting. In both cases you are just using a “tool” to maximize your potential, much like sunglasses help you to see a fly ball better in the out field but it doesn’t catch the ball for you.
You might be surprised then to hear me say that I don’t think that anabolic steroids should be legal. You have to hear my reason though–not because I think it is cheating but instead I think it is not good for the health of the player. You see muscles that make you stronger aren’t the only thing that these substances affect. They affect your heart putting you at increased risk of sudden death. They also make your muscles too big for your body to support meaning greater chance of tendon, ligament, and bone injury. There are many other things that are affected in a negative way as well that make these things totally not worth it.