Anabolic Steroid and Performance Enhancing Drug Use
Among High School Athletes
Anabolic steroid use has, at least in the past, been prevalent among major college and, especially, professional sports. Major League Baseball implemented a drug testing regimen very recently after backlash from fans made it an issue that the sport believed it had to listen to. The National Football League has a testing program that has been in place since 1989, and other sports have also begun programs to test for anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs (PED) to ensure that there is a level playing field among all of their athletes. Unfortunately this testing has led to consequences for some athletes.
Some notable case of athletes being either stripped of honors or not being selected for honors because they acknowledged PED or steroid use have occurred in recent times. Lance Armstrong was recently stripped of all of his wins in the seven (7) Tour de France bicycle races that had previously been awarded as wins because he was found to have doped his blood. Mark McGwire has not been voted into the Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, and many suspect it is because he admitted using the substance Creatine to assist him during workouts. Others who are soon to be eligible for the MLB Hall of Fame may face the same scrutiny.
Although professional athletes will experience the positive performance enhancing and negative after effects of steroid use, high school athletes, who often follow the example of their heroes in professional leagues and the Olympics are even more of a concern. The professional athletes are just as susceptible to the negative effects of the drugs, but they are adults and, hopefully, understand what can happen if they abuse the drugs. High school athletes, especially male athletes, are more susceptible to the poor guidance offered by the professional athletes because they look up to them, and because they want to reach that level of pay and play themselves. The problem is that they may be even more susceptible to the negative effects because their bodies are still growing.
This research paper looks at the prevalence of steroid and suspected steroid and PED use in one high school. The findings are given based on survey research which was conducted with athletes who wished to participate, and none were coerced. All athletes were allowed to participate anonymously having their survey sheets numbered rather than requiring any personal information. The purpose of this study is to determine what level the use of PEDs is in this particular school, and as the population is representative of a random cross sampling of high school athletes across the state, to make inferences based on this data.
The goal of this a literature review is to examine the literature related to PED and anabolic steroid use among high school athletes. Since it is understood that self-reported use is inaccurate, it is important to look at what others believe is the actual usage. The gathered literature also looks at attitudes toward use, health issues and the prospect of national mandatory drug testing for high school athletes.
Many studies have tried to determine how many high school students are actually using PED and anabolic steroids, but it is difficult to measure this use with any accuracy. One study found that only 1% of high school athletes would admit to using steroids and 15% said that they used some form of legal muscle building supplement (Green, 2007). More accurately "The 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 6.8% of adolescent males and 5.3% of adolescent females had experimented anabolic steroids at some point in their lifetime" (Denham, 2006).This use comes almost entirely from male athletes with 27% saying that they used some form of artificial means to encourage muscle growth (Green, 2007). This level does not coincide with what other say regarding how much they have seen used or how much they believe to be used. High school athletes, when asked how much use they either suspect or have observed say that the number is closer to 15% use (Green, 2007). This question involves all types of PED use and not just anabolic steroids, but it primarily said to be pill or injectable anabolic steroid use.
It is no surprise then, seeing that the predominant use of such substances is male, that attitudes toward use among high school males would be much more positive than among high school females. One of the reasons for this is the body image ideal difference between males and females. Women are more likely to want a lean, fit figure (Denham, 2006) and males are more prone to desiring a body that demonstrates large muscle mass (Martin & Govender, 2011). One study, conducted with adolescents in South Africa demonstrated that the reason that young men want this type of body is because of the prevailing image of masculinity that they have been shown their entire lives (Martin & Govender, 2011). In South Africa, the culture is dominated by a rugby culture which requires that men achieve a certain body type so that they can compete successfully (Martin & Govender, 2011). In the United States, the attitude is the same even of the sport is similar but different. American football, which is by far the most popular team sport in the United States, also requires that young men attain a large muscular shape. The larger the body types, as far as that can be achieved, the more masculine a young man is thought to be in many cases (Perko, et al., 2007). This means that high school aged men realize that if they want to move to the highest levels of the sport, they will have to obtain a muscular physique. Therefore, these athletes are much more likely to see anabolic steroid use as an alternative. Performance-enhancing drugs influence all sports, but the high school mindset is still largely against their use (Talpade, Lattimore & Graham, 2008). Thus, PED use can largely be said to be anabolic steroid use among high school aged people.
Young people are influenced as far as body type by the images that they see in current media. Parents can tell their children safe and effective ways to add muscle, but young athletes are much more inclined, especially after they reach high school age, to listen to friends and media representations of favorite athletes rather than parents (Denham, 2006). This is not to say that the effect of the media is all negative on youth. Because they gather vital information from media streams, youth are likely to draw conclusions that are meant to be unfavorable regarding the use of illicit drugs for any reason. Denham (2006) found that "In the United States, the press has characterized illicit drug use as morally wrong, and media have characterized the use of steroids as a threat to competitive integrity and broader ideals of fairness in American society." Because the media has demonstrated the relative unfairness that is created when people use steroids and other PEDs, young people seem to be understanding the message. However, research has not demonstrated a large change in the attitudes of those who are most vulnerable to the use of steroids.
The Information that attitudes are not changing as rapidly as some may expect them to comes from studies which show that body characteristics of high school athletes, especially football players, is increasing not staying the same or decreasing (Perko, et al., 2007). This study used three different timelines and BMI changes for athletes in those timelines to show how football players body mass has increased greatly since the introduction of anabolic steroids into schools. The researchers found that;
"When data points are plotted on a regression line, results show from 1963 to 1971 there is very little change in BMI among football players and nonathletes. From 1972-1989, immediately following the first documented use of AS in high schools, there is a significant and unexplained increase in BMI in football players but no increase for nonathletes. Conversely, the years immediately following AS legislation, 1991 and 2005 show the only two reductions in 42 years in BMI among football players" (Perko, et al., 2007).
This shows does not necessarily show that use of anabolic steroids is the cause of the increased growth of BMI over these periods. However, it is easy to assume that this is the case when comparing the relatively slow growth among non-athletes of BMI and the growth in the BMI of high school football players. It is also interesting that the growth curve slowed for two years after legislation was introduced to control anabolic steroids, but then returned to levels that were increasing rapidly. When the comparison is made and the changes demonstrated, it is easy to assume, as the authors of the study did, that the result is the variable that was introduced at the beginning of the increased BMI growth (Perko,…