Drug culture is something everyone comes into contact with at some point in their lives. It can be a minor occurrence, or blow up into something bigger depending on the situation. For athletes, drug culture is a huge problem. When I refer to athletes in this sense, I am talking about both performance enhancing drugs and regular street drugs.

Why do superstars in the sporting world engage in such a dangerous practice? Maybe they are attempting to chase success. With a proven track record of winning in their sport, athletes can earn millions of dollars with contracts, not to mention sponsorship opportunities and the fame that comes along with being at the top of their respective sport.

Maybe they don’t care about the punishment. A slap on the wrist or a fine is chump change for someone who is world famous and makes millions of dollars.

Another reason could be personal demons. Maybe the player had a complicated history growing up.  Maybe they have issues currently.  The reasons for drug use are numerous and can be triggered by the slightest thing.

There are numerous repercussions when a player decides to involve themselves with drugs. Baseball has many famous examples including Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire. All used some type of performance enhancing drug during their playing career in order to gain an edge over their competition. It has come back to bite them because now people associate their names with drug use, not athletic accomplishments. Their reputations will be forever marred by their choices.

Another famous example is Lance Armstrong. Once a symbol of perseverance, is merely seen as a cheater. He admitted his drug use in an interview with Oprah Winfrey when he went on the record about his use of erythropoietin and human growth hormone, as well as blood doping.

There are also cases of athletes doing other types of drugs like cocaine. A recent example is baseball’s Josh Hamilton, who just had a relapse involving the use of cocaine and alcohol.

Jon “Bones” Jones, the reigning UFC Light-Heavyweight champion, opened up about his own positive cocaine test prior to his latest title defence. He’s quoted as saying, “I had done it before, quite a few times in college I had experimented with it. But that’s really it. Mainly just college it was something I dipped and dabbed into, but it was never really an issue.”

When athletes experiment with drugs, there are simply no winners. They may feel invincible and on top of the world, but in reality they are doing a tremendous amount of harm to those around them.

The teams they play for suffer losing a player as well as the negative publicity that comes with a positive test.  The fans lose out on seeing a great player perform. The athletes themselves get hurt from throwing dangerous substances into their bodies. It’s a lose-lose situation for all those involved.

Athletes should never be using drugs in open competition. It takes away from the true spirit and nature of the game that we all know and love. There are simply too many dangerous outcomes that are associated with athletic drug use. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it happens more than we all care to admit. And that’s the scary part. Even the cleanest looking athlete can be hiding a dark secret. And we may never know exactly what that is.