The precarious problem of PEDs in sports

Deer antler spray, blood doping, human growth hormone, steroids and who knows what else athletes are putting into their bodies to try and gain an advantage in their sport, have been in the spotlight throughout the month of January and into the beginning of February.

With more and more revelations of star players admitting to using or what is more likely to be the case, being found out about using performance enhancing drugs, can fans accept a player’s accomplishments on-field at face value? Or, are those accomplishments even that impressive anymore?

Take Lance Armstrong, for example. After a decade of investigations and inquiries into whether or not he used any PEDs, the winner of an unprecedented seven Tour de France cycling victories, which some consider to be one of the greatest sporting achievements ever, begrudgingly gave up trying to prove his innocence and admitted to being involved in blood doping scandals he had been caught up in for so many years.

One of the many reasons sports fascinates the masses is because of the sheer physical ability athletes (are supposed to) have to achieve improbable victories while beating unbelievable odds. If it’s more drug and less true ability, the air gets let out of great sports storylines very quickly.

And even in the case of sports moments that have not been tarnished by PEDs, do we know that for sure? We’ll never really know. Drug testing is at such a high priority these days in sports, but you never know–the labs will always be a step ahead.

Many are probably ambivalent on the matter; surprised or disappointed when an athlete is first ousted, but easily fades into the distance once the bright lights are shining on the field the next day.

In today’s world, sports are a business. No suspension or ban is going to stop athletes from trying to get a leg up on the competition and gain that fame and fortune. And no fan is going to truly advocate for a ban if their team is winning. As long as it’s not officially announced or released to the media that their star player cheating, most fans won’t care and neither will ownership, because those fans in those seats add more digits to the bottom line.

PEDs will always be in the same conversation, as sports; that dirty little secret that you know should be addressed, but you can’t quite blurt it out completely. Sure, each professional sport now has much stricter drug testing, but it won’t ever be enough. Competition and greed get the best of us.

Many grow up being taught to play fair and are punished for not playing fair. And when you get punished you’re told, “cheaters never prosper”, but I guess they’ve never seen the world of sports.

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