Performance-Enhancing Drug Use in Recreational Athletes

Sports can also help build important life skills like discipline and perseverance. For some young athletes, however, the pressure to make a team or gain a competitive advantage can lead to the use of banned substances, such as anabolic-androgenic steroids. Although these performance-enhancing drugs are most commonly used by male athletes who play football, baseball, and lacrosse, males who participate in other sports and female athletes sometimes use them, too. Once a single athlete decides that using performance enhancing drugs is to their benefit, then it creates a powerful effect of peer pressure on the remainder of the individuals involved in that competition.

A systematic review found that marijuana use had replaced tobacco use as the second highest used drug among athletes and others suggested one in four athletes have used marijuana recently or within the past year [27,28,29]. Research has convincingly established that for some substances, particularly alcohol, athletes have higher levels of at-risk use than individuals not participating in athletics. Conversely, rates of use for many other types of drugs are lower among athletes than nonathletes.

Performance Enhancing Drugs[edit edit source]

TMS studies looking at cocaine primarily all demonstrated decreased craving compared to the control group [52,78,79,80,81,82,83]. Several demonstrated reduced intake and craving and a single study looked at treatment of 11 weeks leading to an elongated latency to the first relapse [52,81,82,84]. Finally, one single theta burst study performed three sessions a day for 10 days and demonstrated a reduction in overall days cocaine was used by 70% and a 78% reduction in weekly cocaine consumption spending based in dollars [85]. Two studies utilizing tDCS looked at opioid use and pain in those who underwent a total knee arthroplasty with both suggesting decreased pain medication use but areas of treatment conflicted [90,91]. This may be an important area to focus on for the cases of injured athletes with their injury playing a role in the development of their misuse.

The main risk for athletes here is testing positive and receiving a sanction. This may result in further social and economic consequences, including being stigmatised as a doper or losing one’s position on a team or sponsorship deal. At the same time, as athletes are pressured to perform from family, teams, and sponsors, there may be increased pressure to use PEDs to gain an edge over non-doping competitors. In sport groups or organisations where doping is accepted and employment is tenuous or performance based, PEDs may become a normal working condition (Aubel & Ohl, 2014). This directly relates to economic risks, as income or sponsorships tied to performance present a fertile atmosphere for pushing doping boundaries.

Performance-enhancing drugs and their negative impacts

Johnson had fame and million-dollar promotional deals before his fortunes reversed soon after his win. Yet his downfall helped open the world’s eyes to the fact that doping, previously seen as a Communist bloc issue, was happening throughout negative effects of drugs in sport athletics. When Canadian track star Ben Johnson won gold in the 100m at the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea on September 24, 1988, he not only established a new world record but also defeated his American rival, Carl Lewis.

negative effects of drugs in sport

The enabling processes and environments represented by systematic doping demonstrate a dynamic interplay with the multi-layered risk environment structured by anti-doping policies and cultural stigma. For example, where threshold values for banned substances have been set, athletes have ensured that they remain under the limit to avoid detection. Similarly, the introduction of the athlete biological passport meant that samples would be recorded over time to flag changes in biological values that might indicate doping not caught through testing single samples. Doping groups responded by introducing micro-dosing of PEDs that would show only minor variations in biological values while still giving athletes performance benefits. The social, economic, and policy risks to athletes in both cases are minimised through the harm reducing processes that ensure use remains undetected. The physical and psychological adverse effects of anabolic androgenic steroids (e.g., kidney and liver damage, acne, gynecomastia, suppression of normal testosterone production, aggression, depression) are well established.