Torn ACLs and MCLs. Broken Backs and bulging dics. Shattered femurs, tibias, clavicles, wrists, or arms. Torn Achilles, Labrum, Pectorals, and Biceps. Dislocated ankles, and rotator cuffs. Concussions. Degenerative Brain Diseases. CTE. Increased Pain threshold. Medication dependency.

Headaches, Nausea, Muscle cramps. A false sense of invincibility. Diminished ability to concentrate. Mood instability. Loss of vision. Crippling arthritis. Increased stress on the heart. Increased aggressiveness and sexual appetite. Increased pain threshold. Medication dependency.

One of the paragraphs is detailing the possible side effects of playing sports. The other is detailing the potential side effects of PEDs. If it weren’t for the mentions of broken bones, one would have a difficult time of differentiating which is the more debilitating of the two, or furthermore, how to identify which are the sports-related injuries and which are side effects of PEDs.

Since the early 90s, there has been a war raging against the use of PEDs in not only professional sports, but amateur as well. There has been a concerted effort to demonize the use of PEDs for a number of reasons, but oddly enough, the biggest reason seems to be that it gives those individuals who use them an unfair advantage. That, to me, seems a bit misguided. We wouldn’t be upset with a cocaine addict for being able to achieve a higher-level of altered reality through illegal means; we would say, “Hey, don’t you know what you’re doing to yourself? You really need to get help!” or we’d judge them negatively for the act of consuming illegal narcotics. Yet, somehow, when we find out an athlete is doing PEDs, we don’t say or think any of those things. All we say is, “What a fraud,” or “what a cheat.”

What’s the difference between the drug addict and the athlete? Sports. Sport changes everything. It skews peoples’ priorities to such a degree that nothing else matters. Even institutions like the US Anti-Doping Agency seem to have lost the plot. In their mission statement, they state, “USADA contributes to the advancement of clean sport,” and their main goal is to “Preserve the integrity of competition – Inspire true sport – Protect the rights of U.S. athletes.” Think about that for a moment. Their main goal is to protect the integrity of competition….not prevent drug use in athletes because it’s the right thing to do, or work with the various sports entities to limit positive re-enforcement in cases where PED use is known. Plain and simple: protect the integrity of the competition.

In its own twisted way, it’s a remarkably honest approach. People can’t claim that they oppose PEDs because of the negative effects they have on the body because, as illustrated above, gruesome injuries are commonplace in sports. In fact, if you hadn’t noticed already, many of the side effects of PEDs are exactly the same as those you get while being involved with sports while burning clean. I don’t see and/or hear anyone calling for a ban on all sporting activities.

…and if we establish that people don’t oppose PEDs because of their potentially devastating side effects, and we accept that people dislike athletes that take PEDs because it’s “cheating”, then why do those same people not get upset about other performance-enhancing substances like Gatorade, or protein drinks? They most definitely enhance performance. They promote faster healing and muscle growth etc. etc.

The only conclusion to be made is that people disagree with drugs like HGH or beta blockers because an arbitrary line was drawn to constitute what is acceptable and what is not. If we are ok with athletes potentially destroying their bodies through sports for our viewing pleasure and financial gain, then we should be ok with that same logic when applying to athletes and PED use.

It’s time to start re-examining the issue of PEDs in sport. Not because they are any less dangerous, but because our reason for having banned them is.