Sports are often some of the first places for our children to develop, learn and socialize as they become young adults. In addition, sports teaches us several invaluable lessons about life including sportsmanship, teamwork, competition and compassion.
Through all levels of competition, from little-leaguers to professional athletes, one of the most important virtues an athlete can carry is integrity. Among many other reasons, drug and steroid testing in sports is done at all levels to ensure athletes are being true to themselves, their teams and their fans.
Why Drug and Steroid Testing in Sports?
There are numerous reasons why associations such as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), NFL, FIFA, NBA, MLB, NCAA and high schools across the nation have made it their responsibility to drug test athletes for steroids and other drugs of abuse.
Powerful Influence of the Pros (The Role Model Effect)
Growing up, many children idolize athletes that hit home runs, score goals and catch touchdowns. They look up to these athletes both on and off the field and try to imitate their favorite players. As a result, when a professional athlete admits to using sports enhancement drugs or illicit street drugs, the message sent to young athletes is not always the one that is intended. A high school athlete could take the news of a popular athlete using steroids as a necessary step to gain an elite performance level
Health Risks of Steroid Abuse
The number one reason for testing athletes for steroids are the numerous health risks associated with taking these drugs. Steroids have been proven to cause health complications ranging from acne and stunted growth all the way to severe conditions such as strokes, damaged liver function, heart disease, impaired fertility, personality changes, premature balding and breast tissue development in men.
In addition, by taking a substance that allows the body to perform at higher levels than it naturally should, users can easily push themselves too hard and cause an injury to themselves, their teammates or their competitors.
Through implementing an effective drug testing policy, sports associations are trying to preserve one of the most essential and priceless values of sports, which is often referred to as the ‘spirit of sport’. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, “The spirit of sport is the celebration of the human spirit, body and mind, and is characterized by the following values:
- Ethics, fair play and honesty
- Excellence in performance
- Character and education
- Fun and joy
- Dedication and commitment
- Respect for rules and laws
- Respect for self and other participants
- Community and solidarity
Doping is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of sport.”
Unfair Advantage and the ‘Arms Race’ Effect
Athletes do not take performance enhancing drugs to level the playing field, they take them to gain a competitive advantage. Many look to steroids as a concrete way to question an athlete’s legitimacy as well as one of the biggest threats to ruining fair competition in sports.
If you have a professional sport without drug testing policies, it can lead to something known as the ‘Arms Race’ effect. Meaning that if one athlete is taking 10 grams of steroids, then the next one will take 20 or 30 to get an advantage on that athlete. This results in an endless cycle of athletes trying to gain a competitive advantage on one another.
According to the former President of WADA, Richard Pound, this effect will lead to a game “that is increasingly violent, extreme, and meaningless, practiced by a class of chemical and or genetic mutant gladiators.”
Professional athletes that are caught doping are some of the most heavily scrutinized people on the planet. It does not matter how many goals someone scores or how many home runs they hit; if an athlete is caught using steroids, it will taint their record as an athlete forever.
Some of the backlash includes:
- Suspensions, fines, and bans
- Tainting the integrity of the game
- Discrediting all career stats
- Removing the possibility of professional recognition such as the Hall of Fame
- Being forever known as a ‘cheater’
Overall drug testing aids athletes in:
- Staying true to themselves
- Teaches them to train honestly
- Gives them recognition that natural talents and their perfection are the point of sports
- Eliminates the prospect of an ‘arms race’
- Keeps athletes safe from all of the physical/psychological damage
Drug Testing Student Athletes
Nearly all collegiate athletic programs and an increasing number of high school programs are implementing drug testing policies as a requirement for an athlete to be eligible to participate in school sports.
This demonstrates that a school is fully committed to hold their student athletes to the highest of standards and will not accept cheating or drug usage.
Moreover, it shows that by not using steroids or illegal drugs, a school’s athletes appreciate fairness, respects the sport and respects the safety of those around them.
What Kind of Drug Screening Should Sports Teams Perform?
There are numerous ways to handle drug testing in sports. First, however, we recommend checking with your local league or association for their outline regarding drug testing policy.
For Steroids Testing:
For organizations and individuals wishing to check for steroid usage, we highly recommend our SteroidConfirm Steroid Abuse Urine Test Kit. This kit tests for all major forms of anabolic steroids (over 50 different steroids), is cost efficient (significantly cheaper than our competitors) and extremely reliable (all samples are sent to labs for gas chromatography mass spectrometry analysis).
For Drug Testing:
Most random drug testing still primarily consists of urine drug tests. However, some sports teams are starting to switch to hair follicle drug testing kits for their long detection time or instant saliva test kits for their non-invasive properties and highly sensitive drug cutoff levels.
Whatever method you choose to test with, we can find a product that will fit your exact needs.