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The Issue of Drug Cheating in Competitive Sports

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The issue of drug cheating in competitive sports has ignited the debate on whether harsher penalties should apply due to the effect of drug cheating? So should their be harsher penalties, yes of course there should be! How would you like it if you were racing against an 18 year old and you were only 7? Unfair advantage I believe. Well it’s the same as racing against someone who is taking banned substances even though you’re the same age. Unfair advantage. Not only is taking banned substances biased and immoral, it comes with many other issues such as, athletes supposedly being an inspiration and ‘role model’ towards younger athletes, and also the fact that one athletes decision could act as chain reaction. Not to mention the health risks associated with these banned substances. So why are we letting our athletes take these banned substances?

Cheating is the deliberate, knowing and voluntary violation of certain rules in order to gain a competitive advantage. According to Dr Michael Dillingham, “The use of performance-enhancing drugs is not accidental; it is planned and deliberate with the solve objective of getting an unfair advantage”. Since athletes know they are cheating it is not morally correct and the advantage is unfair to the other athletes competing. A survey was conducted and published in the journal Sports Medicine, resulting in up to 57% of athletes admitted to using performance- enhancing drugs. These results are disappointing! And very unfair to the remaining 43% who have not taking performance-enhancing drugs. He’s set the 100-meter world record twice, he use to be Usain Bolt’s team mate, Jamaican sprinter and track star Asafa Powell was banned for 18 months after being caught using the banned stimulant oxilofrine in 2013. Unfortunately drugs will never be gone forever, the desire to win, motivated by prizes and large sponsorship deals, or social pressures such as national gold medal expectations. But there are always other ways around performance enhancing drugs.

What athletes do you look up to? Who’s your inspiration? For young athletic high school students typically males, professional athletes are major influences. These professional athletes influence these boys jersey numbers of their favourite player, they influence styles of play and training skills/techniques, overall these professional athletes act as role models to our younger generation. According to a study conducted, 20% of high School students said that their decision to use anabolic steroids was influenced by professional athletes. These ‘role models’ influence drug use, when a professional athlete is caught/admits to taking a banned substance what kind of message is being sent to our younger rising stars? Young athletes believe that banned drug use by their ‘role model’ gives them permission to do so, sending a message that it is alright to take these substances and that you must take these banned substances to become an elite athlete.

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Drugs like steroids have a negative effect on long-term health, and athletes are oblivious to these health related risks. Dr Hughes says: ‘’Stimulants are known to cause things like heart palpitations, heart arrhythmias, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, cardiovascular collapse'. Other risks associated could include heart failure, organ damage and tumors, unfortunately most athletes don’t take into consideration the long term effect these drugs can have on them. Not only can these drugs affect your physical health but can affect the mental health side of things, by getting addicted to these stimulants. “On August 26th, 1960 at the Rome Olympics, Danish cyclist Knud Jensen horrifically died in the olympic competition due to doping. Jensen’s autopsy revealed traces of amphetamine called Ronicol”. This is a perfect example of how much doping can affect someone. Harsh penalties need to be put in place, we do not want another repeat of what happened to Knud Jensen.

One athlete's decision to use drugs also exerts a powerful effect on the other athletes in the competition. Athletes feel pressured into taking banned substances so they can be at par with other competitors who may also be taking a banned substance. As reported by Sports Illustrated, “half of all recently surveyed Olympic athletes admitted that they would be willing to take a drug - even if it would kill them eventually - as long as it would let them win every event they entered five years in a row”. It only takes one athlete to get away with doping, and only takes one athlete to be influenced. These athletes are violating the spirit of sports!

Doping is greatly impacting our athletes. Why spend your whole life training and working hard to get to where you want to be and then just take performance enhancing drugs? Reputation is made over a lifetime and lost in a moment of poor decision making. What will happen to our athletes and Olympics in the future if harsh penalties on doping isn’t applied?

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The Issue of Drug Cheating in Competitive Sports. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“The Issue of Drug Cheating in Competitive Sports.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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