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Growing up cheating

Comments (5)
By Peter Hadzipetros

So Jason Giambi has finally agreed to come clean and talk to Major League Baseball's recently-found steroid conscience. The battle against drugs in sports is finally turning a corner.

Sure it is.

If Giambi says that he used performance-enhancing drugs, he can rightly point out that it was at a time when baseball had no steroid policy — it wasn't against the rules to do what you could to hit the ball harder and farther than anyone else. And, of course, you had to do what you could to compete and hang on to your very well-paying job in a field where you might be an extended slump away from losing your livelihood.

It's human nature to want an advantage, to look for an easy way to achieve a difficult goal.

A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine contained some pretty scary stats. It found that more than one per cent of 11 year olds — pre-pubescent kids — admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs to do better in sports. By the age of 15, three per cent of kids made the same admission — and they were taking them more often than the 11 year olds.

Of those 15 year olds who admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs, 24 per cent said they were doing it daily. Forty-four per cent of the kids on drugs said they won an event thanks to the added advantage.

Salbutamol was taken by 45 per cent of the kids surveyed. The drug is normally used to treat asthma — and if you are using it as a treatment for that, you're OK. But if you don't have asthma, the drug can increase your respiratory capacity and give you an edge. The World Anti-Doping Agency says if your urine contains more than 1,000 nanograms of the stuff per milliliter you're a cheater. That's even if you're caught with it in training.

The next most-popular class of drugs among cheating kids was corticosteroids, which were taken by 10 per cent of those who admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs. Also verboten, according to WADA's list of banned substances.

The study found that boys were more likely than girls to take drugs to improve their performance. They also tended to put in more hours training, had lower self-esteem and showed signs of anxiety. They wanted to win to improve their self-image.

It may be the price we pay, when we're constantly reminded of the financial rewards that very few of us realize in victory.

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Comments (5)

tim

calgary

i am tired of the knock against performance enhancing drugs. in every arguement i have read they fail to address that fact that the user did not merely use the drugs and become a better athlete overnite. performance enhancing drungs are able to enhance ones performance only if one is willing to put the time and energy into continued training. It is only then that a benifit can be derived. By suggesting that i use an inhaler to help me win a single race, that just doesn't happen.

Posted August 1, 2007 03:46 PM

Jim

Timmins

What have we become?
Our self-image; once self-styled, is now wholy created by popular culture and on sale at the mall. We are so embarassed and ashamed to wallow in our own mediocrity that we demand our children not suffer the same fate. And the price? We forget that when we tell them to "be like Mike", we mean practice every day for a decade, stay clean, and make correct choices. If; after that time, you have been blessed with talent and skill, you might become a star. We also forget them two important details: 1. There are millions of other kids just like them out there with the same dream. 2. To fail at that dream is not to fail at life.
Athletes used to be individuals with a love for their chosen sport, and a drive to win. Now our champions are chemical-enhanced, uber-developed young men and women who are equally adept as spokespersons for nike, coke(2 meanings), or gatorade. How can we not expect our children to cheat if we only rejoice champions? And when our champions turn out to have the conscience of a hangman, who are we to blame them? I say its better to be a unique unknown than a common celebrity.

Posted June 28, 2007 08:35 AM

George

Ottawa

When the only option to compete with the other athletes is to take drugs, then the temptation turns into necessity. If all other athletes are taking drugs, or at least the majority of them, it becomes essential to one's success in that particular sport. I'm in now way supporting the use of performance enhancing drugs, but that reality now exists. The only challenge now is how to hide the traces of the drug in the body during testing. It's a sad state in sports today. The use of drugs in professional sports is even greater than the Olympics due to lack of testing. Which means that if you plan to make it to the NHL, start using performance enhancers at 14-15 years old if you even want a chance to make it.

Posted June 26, 2007 01:41 PM

Kevin

Montreal

Hollow victories. Feeling pressure to win is not the same as having a will to win.

Posted June 25, 2007 08:15 PM

Greg F.

Ottawa

So long as we maintain the attitude that second place makes you the first loser, and we pound these ideas into the heads of our children as soon as they come to understand the nature of competition, then kids will cheat. It's sad that so many youngsters would risk their health in this way -- any drugs of this sort taken before full maturity can have devastating effects on the growing body -- but they yearn to feel accepted and valued. For some, the only way to gain that feeling is by collecting championships and/or gold medals. Lord help us all if we can't do something to help these misguided young athletes who no longer have the excuses Giambi et. al had during the Steroid Era of Major League Baseball.

Posted June 25, 2007 01:37 PM

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Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

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