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Why Steroid regulations in college football should be more strict

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Steroid Regulations in College Football
INTRODUCTION
As Vince Lambardi once said “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. With high stakes involving fame, money and potential professional careers the young college footballer is no less than a Roman gladiator entering the arena of play to conquer one and all. The relentless and unforgiving pursuit of winning at all costs drummed into the psyche of the players by parents, coaches and peer group has led them to using steroids as performance enhancing drugs putting their health and careers at stake.
With the widespread reporting of side effects associated with steroid use and the tragic death of Lyle Alzado due to brain tumor which was possibly caused by steroid use and many other professional footballers confessing to the culture of using these drugs in the college football fraternity, the question has arisen whether the existing regulations with respect to drug testing are stringent enough to act as a deterrent against steroid use.
THE MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM
In a study conducted on 873 Indiana high school football players it was concluded that 6.3% of them had or were using anabolic steroids (Stilger and Yesali 131-145) and figures released by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in 2003 also confirmed these findings and showed 6.4% incidence of steroid use in 12 th grade boys (Grunbaum et al. 1-96). These figures are a proof of the widespread use of steroids in players and that it begins at a young age.

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NEED FOR STRINGENT REGULATIONS
Drug testing is not a new concept to the NFL. In fact, the NFL claims to conduct more drug tests than any other sporting body. Testing was started in 1987 and the first suspensions were handed out in 1989. There are a number of pressing reasons for an overhaul in the existing drug testing policy.
The first reason in favor of introducing more strict rules for drug abusers is the fact that the side effects of steroids pose a great danger to the athletes. Studies have shown that approximately 30% steroid users develop adverse effects (Haupt and Rovex 469-484) Indiscriminate use of steroids can cause raised blood pressure, disturbed lipid profile (Glazer 1925-1933), enlargement and thickening of the left ventricle of the heart leading to deterioration in cardiac function (Mewis et al. 153-5), it may also cause cardiac arrhythmia, sudden cardiac death. Hepatic damage and occasional cases of hepatocellular carcinoma have also been reported. In males it can cause infertility, testicular atrophy and gynaecomastia. Due to premature fusion of epiphysis it can lead to short stature. Use of shared needles to inject steroids also exposes the users to diseases like Hepatitis B, C and HIV (Rick et al. 563-566).
The second important reason to improve the existing testing policy is that the present regulations do not seem to be as strong a deterrent as needed to maintain the sanctity of the sport. In a 2009 NCAA survey, only 50% student athletes felt that drug testing by schools discouraged drug use. The NFL claims to perform random urine tests with every player undergoing at least one test in a season and tests for recreational drugs once a year. On paper and via public posturing NFL has tried to convey that it is sincere in its efforts to curb steroid use. But, steroids are still being used and this is an open secret amongst all who are involved in the league. The case of Aaron Hernandez who is facing a trial for murder pinpoints the failure of NFL testing as evidence shows that he smoked weed but did not fail a single drug test. There may be similar issues with steroid abuse where tests are passed by using masking agents or clever scheduling of tests. A sport which is loved by so many must be cleaned up by the authorities and they must not turn a blind eye to the rampant use of steroid or else honest footballers will neither gain the recognition they deserve or worse may even be pushed in to using steroids as well.
An interesting concept followed in NFL is that of collective bargaining which gives the player the right to not disclose the type of performance enhancing agent used if his samples come back positive. This should immediately be revoked and stringent punishments should be instituted. A ban of 4 games for the first offence, 8 for the second offence and 12 months for the third offence give drug cheats a chance and allows them to influence upcoming athletes. Harsher punishment with no exceptions would discourage use of steroids. Education and counseling for athletes may also translate into decreased use of steroids (Goldberg et al. 210-214)
CONCLUSION
The roar of the crowds, flashing cameras and the money bags have forced young impressionable minds to use performance enhancing drugs like steroids without considering the moral and personal risks associated with their use. It is the responsibility of the government and the authorities to put in place a stringent testing and punishment policy that will discourage footballers from using steroids and also change the culture of the football league.
Work Cited
Stilger V.C., Yesali, C.E. Anabolic Androgenic Steroid use among high school football players. J Community health. 1999. Print.
Grunbaum J.A., Kann L., Kincher S.A. Youth risk behavior surveillance. United States, MMWR Surveillance Summary. 2004. Print.
Mewis C., Spyrodopordos J., Kuhlkamp V, Seipel L. Manifestation of severe coronary heart disease after anabolic drug abuse. Clinical Cardiology. 1996. Print.
Haupt H. A., Rovex G. D. Anabolic Steroids: A review of the literature. Am J sports Med, 1984. Print.
Glazer G. Atherogenic effects of anabolic steroids on serum lipid levels; a literature review. Arch Intern Med. 1991. Print.
Rick J.D., Dickinson B. P., Feller A. The infections complication of anabolic steroid injection. Int Journal Sports Med. 1999. Print.
Goldberg Linn, Bosworth Eric, Bents T. Robert, Trevisan Louis. Effect of an anabolic steroid education programme on knowledge and attitudes of high school football players. Journal of Adolescent Health Care. 1990. Print.

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