For the outsider looking in they are taboo and evil at best but for many athletes they are a necessity. Training and nutrition both play important roles but for many athletes even though unknown and misunderstood by society is the importance of performance enhancing drugs. By many of these athletes not only are performance enhancing drugs important they are considered one of the primary tools which without there would be no success. Year after year many athletes are crucified once their particular drug of choice comes to light and the question remains, is it truly justified? You don’t question your mechanic when he says your car needs this or that but in the world of athletics it has somehow been deemed “society” knows best and reason, logic and common sense are better left in the waste bin of life.
In most every sport, regardless of the pursuit, athletes are asked to do things near levels of impossibility for the common man and the closer the level of impossibility reached the greater the reward for the athlete. Professional baseball players, the modern poster boys of performance enhancing drugs are asked to play a minimum of 162 games per year; professional football players, the most obvious users of performance enhancing drugs are asked to play game after game in a sport akin to diving head first into a brick wall and they’re asked not only to dive but to take the wall down with them.
Then you have sporting pursuits such as bodybuilding where men are asked to closely imitate specimens found in a comic book or power lifting where men are asked to lift weights comparable to that of an ogre from planet muscle and yet people are surprised or disappointed to learn they’ve used performance enhancing drugs. Are we truly this naïve? We ask these competitors to be bigger than life, we expect it but we only want them to do so if it meets the set ideology we have founded in the recesses of our own minds.
If performance enhancing drugs didn’t exist would it create a more level playing field? If only a couple individuals were using them, sure, one could make this argument but it has been proven time and again this is wishful thinking. Further and more importantly, is a world free of performance enhancing drugs really one we want? Picture if you will, smaller, slower and weaker football players; picture sporting organizations where the average lifespan is cut in half at best as compared to where it is now. Picture far less exciting games, picture weakened enthusiasm and in general picture sporting events that really no one wants to watch.
The truth is simple, especially when speaking of the professional level; even without performance enhancing drugs only the best make it to the professional level; performance enhancing drugs will not turn the average man into a superstar but for the few who are privy to play and participate in the superstar arenas being able to perform like a superstar day in and day out is not only expected it is demanded.
We are regularly led to believe the use of performance enhancing drugs in professional sports is rare and only partaken by the weakest minded of all but reality tells us something very different. What we know for certain is simple; anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, especially steroids have been used in professional sports regularly since the 1960’s, in high amounts in baseball since the 70’s and in massive amounts in football since the 1980’s. Make no mistake, the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports or more importantly its widespread use is not unique to the modern era; its history runs long and deep and to insinuate anything differently is the true definition of irresponsibility as it applies to performance enhancing drugs.