Athletes have the right to make their own choices

CT asks: Should high school athletes be drug tested and should performance enhancing drugs be accepted in all sports?

Matt Gazall, Co-Business Manager

A typical drug panel tests for marijuana, amphetamines, opiates, cocaine and PCP, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, these are not the only drug tests being conducted on high school student athletes across the U.S.

Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) are not just a concern among professional athletes nowadays; many teenagers and young adults make the decision to put their health on the line to achieve their athletic goals by using some type of performance enhancing drug, whether it be something such as an anabolic steroid or a natural, safer supplement such as creatine.

Most of us are educated enough to know the effects of drugs such as anabolic steroids, or the more popular human growth hormone, and many know that there are substantial risks involved in taking drugs such as these.

Those who do decide to take on the potential risks involved when using synthetic hormones to potentially aid athletic performance, do so to achieve goals they believe outweigh the risks.

Athletes should have the same freedom when it comes to taking risks regarding their personal health as anyone else. In particular, if an athlete prefers the possible gains in performance that are claimed to be attained by the use of performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, along with the health risks that come as a side effect, to the alternative of less risk and poor athletic performance, who has the right to interfere with that choice?

We can’t forbid smokers from risking their health by smoking, so why should we forbid athletes from taking risks with their own health in pursuit of their goals?

I’m in no way condoning the use of PEDs for potentially superior athletic performance and believe athletes at the high school level should be tested for drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and PCP. However, when it comes down to the use of PEDs and certain supplements, it would be a complete waste of time and money. While a general drug test is fairly cheap, steroid testing cost quite a bit more.

A basic urinalysis test cost on average $200 per test and when you administer this test to an entire team, especially multiple times per year, the amounts spent can get very high. Athletes who decide to use various supplements (and sometimes PEDs) are taking a risk that is their own personal choice. Many believe that this creates an unfair advantage, and some will argue that this is a form of cheating.

If taking PEDs or supplements that supposedly offer superior athletic performance is cheating, then working hard, dieting and having excellent genetics is also cheating.

It is not the drugs that make an athlete a champion, it is the hard work, commitment, passion and talent, something that is commonly misinterpreted.