Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Steroids, Sports and Human Achievement


The issue of steroid usage in sports is an interesting subject. Let me begin this topic by stating that I have never used steroids. Let me also state that the issue I am examining here is one of morality and not legality. That is to say, yes, steroids are illegal and cheating insofar as they are a banned substance (just as fighting is technically illegal in Hockey or a forward pass is illegal in Rugby) in many sports and illegal under the laws of many countries. Finally, I am not looking at the health implications of steroid usage. There is no doubt that using large amounts of steroids can be harmful, just as excessive drinking, smoking and McDonald's can be harmful if used over a period of time.

What I do wish to ponder is the question of whether utilising steroids to be the biggest or fastest or to simply become better is unethical. This is, perhaps, a more difficult question to ask as our impressions are so heavily entrenched by scandal and media depictions. As a Canadian, I think of Ben Johnson's post Olympic shame, in addition to countless others. We must re-assess this shame. International audiences and sports broadcasters love to see records fall, and seem equally titilated by the inevitable urine test that follows. As a result, media witchhunts have transpired as in the case of Lance Armstrong and his record performances at the Tour de France. There is also the depiction of narcassistic roid raging Body Builders, which is an unfair generalisation. I have had the pleasure of knowing and training with former Olympia contestant and British Champion, Ian Harrison, as well as being good friends with the 2004 Canadian Champion, Dan Fedeluk. Both these men are intelligent, kind and dedicated individuals. Because they have striven to be massive men, they have been labeled in one way by a media that doesn't appear to have the same notions of vanity about others striving to be the fastest or highest endurance, largely because of their appearances.

The ethical nature of using steroids or any other performance enhancing substance lies not in our laws, but in context of the pursuit for which they are utilised. Remember alcohol was once illegal in the United States (and remains illegal in some other nations), and laws on pot are changing presently in several Western nations.

So, is it unethical to use steroids?

I would answer no.

If we widdle the question down to one of producing the fastest, biggest, etc., irregardless of human sanctions such as legality and health issues, the answer can only be "no". Just as training has evolved and nutritional supplements and knowledge has expanded, the usage of drugs has been a part of this evolution. In spite of pressure, and I speak first hand having played Rugby League at the international and pro levels, to use these supplements is up to the individual. It must also be stated that steroids are not going to make someone the best as genetics and training are also major factors and I can guarantee that if I trained like a madman and used steroids that there are several others who would still kick my butt, regardless of the activity.

On the same note, I would discourage people from using these drugs just the same as I would encourge a loved one not to smoke or use narcotics. That being said, there is still something noble in contrasting steroids to smoking or narcotics in at least steroids can often be used in one's pursuit to excell as opposed to merely serving an addiction. Yes, steroids are still damaging the body in many ways, but so too do contact sports (as I can attest) and impact activities, not to mention extreme sports such as ice climbing. They are all matters of degree and perspective.

In conclusion, if we truly want to know how fast, how long and how big a human being can become, then are steroids and other performance enhancing drugs any different in the ethics of attaining this than the evolution of training programmes and designer whey protiens? I would argue unequivically no.

1 Comments:

  • At 9:48 PM , Blogger Jetting Through Life said...

    Last comment, I promise!

    What an interesting point of view on this... I have never really been exposed to steroid use other than the whole MLB situation with Mark McGwire and etc. I have known some friends to take forms of steroids and it has never benefited them at all. Created an opposite effect in an illness.

    I believe if you work for your accomplishments you will appreciate them... That would apply to all aspects in life and just not in sporting.

    Thank you for stopping by my site. Your comment was very powerful and I appreciate that. I like to break up the monotony of my silliness at times and be serious.

    You have a great site and a new regular reader!

    Happy New Year

    XXOO,
    JTL

     

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