The dangers of performance enhancing drug use are extensive. There are dangers to the athlete’s physical health, a loss of reputation, loss of sponsorship deals, and a loss of income. For an elite athlete the dangers of performance enhancing drug use should be enough to deter them from use.
Physical dangers of performance enhancing drug use
The physical dangers of performance enhancing drug use are specific to the drug. The HSC PDHPE syllabus dictates that you know only five (5) drugs: human growth hormone, anabolic steroids, erythropoietin (EPO), diuretics, and alcohol. These five drugs are used for three (3) purposes: strength gains, aerobic capacity, and masking drug use. Due to their specific nature the physical dangers of these drugs will be examined at: for strength, for aerobic performance, and to mask other drugs.
Reputation dangers of performance enhancing drug use
The dangers of performance enhancing drug use include the effects such use may have on an athletes reputation. Elite athletes regularly complete drug tests. A positive result in a drug test of an elite player often hits the media very quickly and is wide spread. An athlete may have spent a long time building a reputation, not just as a physically dominant athlete, but also off the field as many elite athletes are now held up as role models.
A positive result in a drug test will have the athlete lose this reputation overnight. They will be labelled a liar, a cheat, and many other things as their career spirals downward. This loss of reputation will affect other aspects of their life as well. Lance Armstrong has lost his stellar reputation because it was later revealed that he had been cheating.
Sponsorship and income dangers of performance enhancing drug use
Elite athlete’s often have sponsorship with leading brands in the industry. These sponsors can often bring in large amounts of income for the athlete and for some are what allows them to continue as a professional athlete. When an athlete loses their reputation and begins to be seen negatively in the media, many companies who sponsor the athlete will stop their sponsorship, and often will fine the athlete for the effect the media has on their brand. Many sponsorship deals have clauses that relate to negative media exposure and the use of drugs, allowing them to remove their sponsorship quickly when an athlete is caught cheating.
Other dangers of performance enhancing drug use
It goes without saying, but an athlete who is caught using drugs runs the risk of being suspended or excluded form their sport. Sandor Earl for example, was suspended from playing rugby league because of his drug use and Lance Armstrong was excluded from everything connected with cycling. This results in further loss of income and can affect the entire life of the athlete, who relies on their athletic career to support themselves and their family.