Many sports are taking a tough stand on the use of steroids today. Although steroid use may have been considered acceptable in the past, the idea today is that these drugs provide athletes with an advantage that is potentially unfair. Despite the public perception of drug use for physical enhancements and tough league consequences in place, many athletes in sports today are still using steroids. They see it as a way to get a professional edge.
Steroid Use in Sports Statistics
1. 85%. That’s the percentage of teen athletes who do not receive any education about what the side effects of steroids happen to be.
2. 44% of teens say that it is very or fairly easy for them to obtain steroids even though they don’t have a doctor’s prescription for them.
3. 4 out of 10 teens who use steroids say that their decision to pursue the performance enhancing drugs was inspired by professional athletes who are taking them.
4. The percentage of teen steroid users who say they felt like they needed to take the drugs because of images they saw in muscle magazines: 57%.
5. 11% of high school boys say that they’ve tried using steroids at least once in order to gain an edge in their preferred sport.
6. For athletes that do decide to take steroids on a regular basis, 80% of them show some form of biochemical abnormalities of the liver during medical testing.
7. Aggression and irritability are 56% more likely to happen when an athlete is taking steroids compared to when they are not.
8. Possessing illegal steroids for a first time offender in the United States can result in 1 year in prison and a $1k fine as a maximum punishment.
9. As many as 1,084,000 Americans, or 0.5% of the adult population, said that they had used anabolic steroids.
10. The maximum penalty for trafficking is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if this is the individual’s first felony drug offense.
11. Adults in the 18-34 age demographic are twice as likely to have used steroids when compared to the general population.
12. In 2002, 4% of high school seniors said that they had tried steroids at least once. Since 1991, teens are 10x more likely to use steroids today than they were in the past.
13. More than 57% of twelfth graders reported that using steroids was a “great risk.”
14. A majority of the studies performed on steroid abuse indicate males are twice as likely to abuse steroids as females.
15. More than 50 types of anabolic androgenic steroids are currently available for athletes to take today and there are 30 additional stimulants to use in combination with them.
16. In 2003, more than 30 elite athletes, including Olympian Marion Jones and baseball players Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Gary Sheffield, testified before a grand jury investigating the use of an “undetectable” steroid being distributed by the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative.
17. Since 1991, 20% of teens have stopped seeing the use of steroids as something that has a great risk associated with it.
18. Among those who admit using steroids, 80 percent said they believed the drugs could help them achieve their athletic dreams
19. 57% of users said they would use steroids even if it could shorten their lives
20. 60% of people who use steroids believe that taking steroids is a right of the modern professional athlete.
Common Sentiments Towards Steroids
One could even say that the attitude towards steroids in sports is that if an athlete isn’t trying to cheat, then they really aren’t trying. The need to get a competitive edge isn’t anything that is new in the world of sports. Even during the ancient Olympic games, athletes were known to eat the testicles of sheep because they realized that it could enhance their performance. Modern steroid use began in 1954, as far as we know anyway, thanks to testosterone injections on Soviet athletes.
If we know that steroids are bad to take because it makes the body produce higher levels of testosterone, then why risk long-term health for short-term rewards? Part of the issue may be the fact that visual exposure to heavily muscled men and women in media today has a similar effect that is seen with models and young girls. People judge themselves against the mega bodybuilders and athletes, find themselves lacking, and decide to take steroids so that they can have their “best body.”
As the statistics show, the use of steroids is happening still today even with the extra attention that is on these and other performance enhancers. It isn’t just with the professional athlete either. Young athletes are using steroids as well on a very regular basis.
The Debate Over Legalization
Some believe that it is time to legalize the use of steroids in professional sports. As the statistics show, however, legalizing drug use for professional athletes would very likely increase teen athlete use of steroids.
The problem that society faces isn’t a stigma issue, but a tolerance issue. People know that steroids are bad, but they’re willing to look the other way if the enhanced performance will help their favorite team out in some way. Sports Illustrated conducted a poll amongst teen athletes and only 3% of them said that they would try steroids if they knew it would make them a better athlete. That’s 2.5x lower than what the actual usage rates currently are.
Another issue that faces athletics and steroid use is the fact that most states don’t require testing for them in the student athlete population. Only 4 states in the US in 2008 had a mandated testing program, which meant that an athlete could easily get away with steroid use. That creates a sense of invincibility that translates into the professional realm and leads to the attitudes of steroid use that are being seen today.
Steroids might enhance an athlete’s performance, but the costs may be high. That’s why the statistics of steroid use in athletes show that now is the time to stop turning a blind eye to the practice.