The health ramifications of performance enhancing substances are staggering. They have the potential to wreak havoc on many of the systems in the human body; and have been known to lead to severe and irreversible physical damage to the body, and even death. The drugs constitute substantial risk to any athlete who chooses to utilize them. The peer pressure and other stress to perform in today's sports environment nevertheless lead many to take that risk. Certainly, the short term potential rewards, often including fame and fortune, can be quite tempting.
The impact of performance enhancing drugs on the integrity of the game is also a major problem, as those who play clean and push their natural performance levels as far as possible still are often unable to compete with those utilizing these substances. It sets up a situation in which every player would need to use the substances in order to level the proverbial playing field. Ultimately, given the damage that performance enhancing substances cause to the athletes who use them, to the game, to fellow athletes trying to compete naturally, and to fans who love the game, all organized sports at all levels should exercise a zero tolerance policy for all performance enhancing drugs by permanently expelling those who use them from the game.On the less severe end of the spectrum, these substances have been known to cause conditions such as acne, water retention in tissue, yellowing of the eyes and skin, oily skin, abdominal pain, hives, chills, diarrhea, fatigue, general bodily aches and pains in muscles and joints, and weight fluctuation (Mishra, 1991). On the more severe end of the spectrum, these drugs may lead to genital changes, stunted growth, disease of the heart, liver and kidneys, sterility, depression, aggression, sexual dysfunction, and death. These repercussions are common among abusers of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances. To be sure, an athlete who chooses to use them had better be willing to make some trade off on quality of life that is being sacrificed by any of these side effects.
Social pressures play a substantial role in explaining why these substances are utilized even though they commonly lead to such horrific consequences. "Many young men feel they need to look 'masculine,' that is, strong and muscular. Body building stresses such muscularity, and some men - and women - abuse anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass and definition" (Mishra, 1991, para. 18). In short, the longer term consequences of these substances often pale and comparison to the short term gratification of looking good and excelling physically, particularly for young, impressionable boys stuck in the social pressure cooker of high school. To be sure, giving the average adolescent boy an easy means of quickly becoming physically dominant, more attractive to the opposite sex, and more socially popular is tantamount to putting a plate of cookies in front of him after he has not eaten all day. The choice is almost natural from his perspective - do what feels good now and worry about the