Should legal anabolic steroids be allowed for personal use?
In Jose Canseco’s 2005 tell-all book, Juiced, and in an interview with 60 Minutes, Canseco estimated that somewhere around 80% of Major League Baseball players use steroids regularly. Ken Caminiti revealed that he won the 1996 National League MVP award while on Steroids, and Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids for over a decade including in 1998 when he set the single-season home run record.
And it’s not just baseball players.
Lance Armstrong was recently stripped of seven Tour de France titles when he was caught using performance-enhancing steroids. And during that seven year period, 61 of the 70 Tour de France competitors were confirmed dopers.
From American football to the Olympics, nearly every year athletes are either caught or accused of using steroids to enhance their performance which begs the question: Is it time to just make steroids legal?
Why Are Steroids Illegal?
Anabolic steroids are synthetic compounds designed to supplement the natural hormone, testosterone, which aids in building lean muscle tissue and bone density. This is the primary reason that athletes use steroids to enhance their performance.
Testosterone and steroids also affect sex drive and the reproductive system, which can pose potential risks in cases of steroid abuse.
While there are certain risks associated with steroid use and abuse, the main justification for the banning of performance enhancing drugs is that they provide an unfair advantage to those who choose to use them.
But knowing that at least 80% of Major League baseball players and at least 87% of Tour de France competitors were confirmed using anabolic steroids, on top of users who were not caught, it seems that the rules have done nothing to deter athletes away from performance enhancing drugs.
If the main concern of anabolic steroids in sports is to keep other players from gaining an unfair advantage, doesn’t it make more sense to fully legalize performance enhancing drugs rather than to continue to pretend that everyone isn’t using them already?
The Benefits of Legal Anabolic Steroids
Keeping anabolic steroids illegal means letting individual players use them to their own discretion. Because an athlete is not a medical professional, this creates a risk of adverse health effects, abuse, and overdose.
Legalization means regulation and oversight. With professional doctors and health experts overseeing the use of performance-enhancing drugs, we could ensure safe and equal steroid use.
The same is true for personal use. If you’re not a professional athlete, but you want to give your workout a boost, imagine being able to go to a doctor who will tell you exactly how much you need and how to administer the drug for maximum safety and effectiveness.
2. It Makes the Game More Exciting
It may seem superficial to claim this as a benefit of legal steroid use, but why exactly do we watch professional sports?
No one can deny that a professional baseball game is more exciting than a high school game because we as sports fans want to see athletes performing at the pinnacle of human achievement.
The most exciting moments in sports are the record-breaking home runs, the 100 mph fastballs, the achievements that a normal person isn’t capable of.
So why not embrace what we love about sports anyway and allow athletes to safely be all that they can be?
3. It Makes Financial Sense
The cost of a basic steroid test for an athlete is $200 per person. If every athlete in America is tested multiple times per year, this amounts to millions of dollars spent on trying to detect steroid use, and it doesn’t even work most of the time.
Remember when Canseco said that 80% of MLB players are doping? Baseball players have been regularly tested for years and the number of tests is increasing every year, yet we haven’t suspended 80% of baseball players.
Even Lance Armstrong never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was caught with them and later admitted to using them.
So why are sports leagues spending millions of dollars on inaccurate tests to detect steroids that nearly everyone is using anyway?
And if we allow our athletes to rise to the full potential performance-enhancing drugs will bring them to, it’s likely to increase fan turnout as well.
When Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa raced toward the all-time home run record in 1998, it renewed America’s interest in baseball to a point it hadn’t been in years. They raised revenue for the MLB over 1 billion dollars from the previous year and nearly 20 years later people are still saying that their race for the record saved baseball from dying out entirely.
It was later confirmed that both players had been using steroids during the 1998 season and it’s hard to find a single baseball fan who cares in the slightest. Most fans would rather have baseball on steroids than no baseball at all.
4. Athletes Are Going to Use Them Whether They’re Legal or Not
Yet the evidence doesn’t show that athletes have been deterred from using steroids. They’ve just gotten better at not getting caught.
So what exactly is the goal of constant expensive drug testing that only manages to weed out an extremely small percentage of total steroid users?
Aren’t we just allowing those athletes who don’t get caught to have an unfair advantage over those we do catch?
It’s Time to Legalize
Mexico has allowed legal steroids for personal use for decades with no adverse effects on society or health. England and Wales schedule anabolic steroids as a Class C drug, meaning that they are legal to possess and consume for personal use with a prescription.
A known majority of American athletes and actors have in the past, or currently use anabolic steroids to enhance their performance including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sylvester Stallone, rapper 50 Cent, and more. Yet there hasn’t been a single report of a death or overdose related to doping.
If safety is your concern, the answer is oversight and regulation, not prohibition.
If a level playing field is your concern, legalization would actually make the most professional sports more fair, due to the current amount of illegal steroid use in sports.
If you worry that fans will not turn out to a game of super-athletes performing record-breaking feats of strength and speed, then you don’t understand what makes a sporting event exciting in the first place.
The fact is, it doesn’t make sense not to allow legal anabolic steroids for professional and personal use. Covering our eyes and pretending it isn’t happening isn’t an acceptable option anymore.