Please do not be alarmed by the title. Maybe I should have called this piece, “the impacts of performance enhancing drugs in sports” or “the effects of performance enhancing drugs in sports.” The title is what it is to bring your attention to this, now that you are here let’s open up the discussion about one of the hottest topics in sports, performance enhancing drugs.
A few weeks ago the once mighty Lance Armstrong finally admitted to doping years ago when he went on his marvelous run of winning seven straight Tour de France titles. Ironically, no one was actually surprised that he was guilty, if anything we were just waiting for him to finally come clean.
Armstrong is guilty of what a lot of racers, and other athletes for that matter, are guilty of — gaining an unfair advantage from using performance enhancing drugs.
Doping, steroids, and other performance enhancing drugs (or PEDs) are generally outlawed in most sports. The view against these enhancers is generally consistent, but the inconsistency lies within the regulations and testing policies that are taken by each sport.
But the question here is what is the true impact of performance enhancing drugs in sports? This is a touchy subject because there aren’t many people who would openly condone the use of any PEDs in any sport because if they were to do so they would themselves be looked at as a “cheater” per se.
Let me start by making this very clear: I am in no way condoning the use of any PEDs in any sport, however, I am very aware of the effect that steroids and other PEDs have had on sports.
Let’s be real here, the only reason anyone really cared about an annual bicycle race in France was because Lance Armstrong was breaking records and making history. Back then nobody would have thought that Armstrong was guilty of using PEDs, and quite frankly, nobody cared.
All that mattered was that Armstrong won seven straight Tour de France titles. He actually brought something to that sport that it never had — interest.
Without the doped up Armstrong cruising through France every year, the sport of road race cycling would go right back to where it was before, no where near the headlines.
The fact is that Armstrong brought interest to the sport. Yes he was guilty, but let’s not sit here and pretend that we didn’t soak it all in eight years ago when he won his last title.
And how about the 1998 home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa? McGwire admitted in 2010 that he did use PEDs throughout his career but Sosa has continued to deny the use of any. In that season both McGwire and Sosa were racing to break Roger Maris’ single season home run record.
Mark broke the record and finished the season with 70 home runs while Sosa hit 66. Both of these men have either admitted to using some sort of PEDs or at least been accused of doing so. Again, by the rules this is simply wrong. But again, we must be honest — this was a great thing for baseball. The MLB was losing its luster around 1998, McGwire and Sosa brought an excitement to the league that hadn’t been seen in a while.
When you think of baseball in 1998 you think of these two men fighting out game after game to break the record, most people would never even think of who won the World Series that year. As a matter of fact, do you know who won the World Series in 1998?
It was the New York Yankees. But very few people are even aware of that. Why? Because everyone was, and still is to this day, focused on what McGwire and Sosa did.
I am not saying that the use of any PED can be justified or is otherwise right, but I am stating the fact that the use of PEDs has had an impact on the sporting world, and that impact — at least for the time — might be a good one.
Simply put, the use of PEDs is against the rules, I don’t want anyone to believe that they are right to use. But they certainly do have an impact on the sporting world, if not in a good way than certainly in an exciting way. After all, sports may actually need performance enhancing drugs.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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