Athletes and performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) seem to go hand and hand these days. There are very few days in a month where another athlete is not being attacked in the media for using substances to give them an edge on their competition. This is not a new phenomenon either. The use of performance enhancing drugs has been going on for decades. The fans put more pressure than they realize on these athletes to preform. This pressure to preform is what leads many to the PEDs. Maybe it is time for fans to stop making elite athletes into Gods among men and start seeing them as humans who will have good and bad days.
When looking at a timeline of PED use it becomes very clear that this is not a new problem or one that is going away. In 1886 a Welsh cyclist named Arthur Linton died in a race form Bordeaux to Paris. Some believe he died of typhoid fever, but other information pointed to him being killed by trimethyl, which was a combination of alcohol, strychnine, heroin, caffeine, and cocaine. This shows just how desperate some athletes were to be the best and fans do not help this problem. Recently Maria Sharapova, the tennis star revealed she failed her drug test, which shows this problem is still going on. Some of these athletes like Lance Armstrong, have been stripped of past titles and now are more famous for their doping scandals than winning any championships.
One man, Dick Pound, who is the former World Anti-Doping Agency Chairman, “believes there are five main reasons why athletes resort to performance enhancing drugs – considered by most fans to be the worst form of cheating.” (“The gain game: Why do sports stars cheat?”, 2012) These reasons are the desire to win no matter the cost, for financial security, pressure from coaches, pressure from the nation they are representing, and finally doping to dope because they don’t think they will ever get caught.
To try to get a hand on this problem many sporting organizations have put Anti-Doping policies in place. The NBA, NFL, and MLB all now test for a many different types of PEDs including HGH (human growth hormone). The Olympic committee has now made it so that if any athlete is caught doping, they cannot compete. This is a huge problem for the Russian team who is expecting to have at least sixty-eight athletes banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics. This just goes to show how big of a problem doping is in any kind of sport.
Fans want to see star athletes preform amazing feats, and once that happens they want even more. They way athletes who cannot be injured, who cannot be stopped, who are practically untouchable in their sport. The problem with this is that these people rooting and cheering for more and now adding to the already problematic doping of professional athletes. Fans also think that doping is the worst thing an athlete can do, that it is the ultimate form of cheating. This is a double edge sword these athletes are balancing on. They need the fans support so they, the athlete can have the financial support that comes with being a great athlete and popular with the people. Most though, like A. Rod, like the fame for the attention and money it brings and would do anything to keep that.
Fans need to understand that these are not some different species that has evolved above wanting to have money and power. Like most people, they want more and more. One way to do this is with drugs. These drugs are illegal for a reason though, they can kill. In large amounts an athlete could die from a simple overdoes, or from the feeling that nothing can hurt them. They feel invincible and will do anything to stay the best. When an athlete is the best, they get more money, more fame, more of everything. Once they have more, they do not want to let it slip away.
Shouldn’t we treat athletes like the humans they are. They are under enough pressure as it is to preform night after night, year after year. There the fans are though, pushing for more and more, but turning their backs on these athletes who do what ever it takes to keep pleasing the fans if they are caught doping. If less pressure was put on them being a perfect athlete, let them feel ok with making mistakes, but doing their best, maybe they wouldn’t feel the need to dope anymore. This can be completely wrong though, coaches could be putting pressure on athletes to play better, nations could be putting pressure on athletes for world competitions, and the fans could just be there adding to the already mounting pressure. It would seem that as long as the world is competing and athletes are put against better athletes, doping will continue to be a serious problem in the sporting community.