Victory At Any Cost: The Pressures Collegiate Athletes Face That Drives Doping
In the competitive world of professional and amateur sports where the rewards are profitable and victory is considered the only success, many collegiate athletes are under immense pressure to win by any means necessary.
In the competitive world of professional and amateur sports where the rewards are profitable and victory is considered the only success, many collegiate athletes are under immense pressure to win by any means necessary. With so much focus on these athletes and the competition, it is not surprising that college athletes might feel the need to turn to performance-enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids to gain an edge and stand out amongst their competitors.
College athletes are known to experience unique stress factors that the general student population don’t typically face and because of this, student athletes can be at a higher risk of anxiety and depression that stems from the constant need to perform exceptional on and off the field/court. Professional coaches look at college level athletes as potential draftees and now more than ever players are being scrutinized for their statistics, tendencies, and physical appearance all of which are contributing factors for a student to look for ways to progress their game but, what are we really losing to gain these victories?
Samir Padillo a former student at The University of Houston stated that steroids in the locker room were common and has admitted to use of anabolic steroids, but believes it diminishes the natural development of an athlete and eliminates the hard work one has to put in order to be the best.
Building on this are the equally troubling statistics that 1 in 4 young athletes believe doping is critical when it comes to improving their athletic performance when in reality, steroids do not give you superhuman abilities, they only allow you to reach your potential quicker.
However, it’s very possible to fully realize one’s ultimate potential without the use of steroids. We are born with our own personalized genetic makeup. The ultimate limits of any athlete’s performance are determined by his or her genetic makeup, and performance-enhancing drugs don’t modify genes. No matter how hard you try, how much you work out, how well you eat, how much competitive experience you gather, or how many drugs you take, you will never do anything as an athlete that exceeds your genetic limitations. It just isn’t possible.
With proper training and exercise, nutrition and brain training, achieving your highest athletic potential is achievable and much healthier. Doping sabotages this effort by putting the athletes health at risk. Steroid use is not a safe practice and the consequences of doping are far-ranging and potentially permanent and can also have catastrophic effects on the health of a young athlete. The ethical athlete needs to utilize every means available to them to enhance performance legally and safely.
Many ask, “Well what can we do to put an end to doping?" and the answer is simple. By applying pressure.
The ‘scared straight’ approach has no major penalties for athletes who choose to travel this route. There is still very much to gain in forms of lucrative contracts and fame. It’s time to ratchet up the penalties, not only for the integrity of the game but also the well-being and safety of our athletes. If we implement a program where risk outweighs the reward there is no doubt we will see a significant impact on compliance. Mandatory health education classes for our young and college athletes should be made mandatory with the privilege of participating in sports. Often times athletes are more likely to partake in doping when unaware of the side effects.
One main factor included in the success of athletes doping is the people within the athletes circle that are emotionally, physically and or financially invested. Whatever the case may be and with so much at stake it’s easy to see why some choose to turn a blind eye. For the people who decide to speak out and come forward (also known as whistleblowers) they aren’t being provided with enough support nor incentive. It’s high time to provide these whistleblowers with an environment where they are supported and that’s essential to encouraging others to do the right thing.
Our anti doping solutions must be strengthened and a new agency promoting the exposure of the doping athletes should be created. Too often athletes who dope are awarded with success, and clean athletes are punished with defeat. The integrity of the games are threatened. Bringing in individuals outside the sports industry, with the task of exposing rather than simply testing, creates a culture of openness and honesty – at the fear of dirty athletes.
When considering how few athletes are caught under strict testing procedures, it’s only left up to imagination of how many coaches and doctors go free. By putting more resources and better strategy into place to charge the athlete support personnel, we could disrupt a culture of intense peer pressure. Enforcing harsher rules and monitoring coaching and health procedures would not only provide the evidence needed to hold coaches and doctors liable, but would also make it easier for anti-doping organizations to catch out athletes in the first place.
If you or a loved one may be experiencing the perils of steroid addiction or any kind of substance abuse please seek the help and or counseling that is available to you in your area.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP
Written with the permission of Samir Padillo