Representatives from several organizations, responsible for anti-doping practices in sports, have convened to address the chronic use of performance-enhancing drugs that have plagued the industry for the greater part of recent decades. The meeting, last week, represented an unlikely front against the use of illegal steroids throughout the sports world. While a stubborn tradition of infighting between agencies often transcends the battle against illicit drugs, the recent meeting witnessed a collaborative effort on all parties to work together. After conveying their appeal for similar agendas, the future of illegal drug use in sports looks to be waning.
According to the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC), their involvement in the sports industry is to promote a sense of integrity by supporting anti-doping research, thereby ensuring the benefits of sports across all levels of participation. Subsequently, the PCC is made up of representatives from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Major League Baseball and the National Football League. Created in 2008 to combat the growing problem, the group is tasked with funding research in the field of performance-enhancing drugs as they relate to sports.
Included in the meeting were the opinions of several relative professionals representing a similar agenda. Scientific researchers, physicians, lab directors and ethicists were involved in the PCC meeting to gain a better prospective on the problem at hand. Though rare, the presence of each representative at the meeting provides a bright future for drug-free sports.
Contrary to what the public would assume, the agendas proposed by each organization provide for conflicting opinions. More often than not, the aforementioned groups are at odds with each other over competing ideals and interests. However, the past 10 years have witnessed a mutual concern that has given way to a relationship exhibiting more trust and respect. According to the PCC, the strengthened alliance should continue to make it increasingly more difficult for athletes to use illegal doping agents.
Making a rare public appearance at the PCC meeting was Jeff Novitzky, a special agent for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDAs involvement suggests that illegal drug use, practiced by athletes, is a future concern for the public. “What is the federal government doing involved in these cases?” Novitzky asked rhetorically in his presentation. “Sports doping is not illegal. Other activities that go along with it are.”
Acknowledged in his presentation was the reason for the FDA’s involvement in such a matter. According to Novitzky, steroids used by professional athletes are often viewed as trend-setters that gain the attention of consumers across the United States. Subsequently, designer steroids used by athletes are often dangerous and unapproved by the FDA. Steroids such as these display a propensity to reach the masses of those looking for performance enhancement. Typically obtained by elite athletes, illegal steroids are then introduced to the general population.
Examples of such trends may be witnessed on several occasions. Perhaps the most prolific is that of the relatively recent BALCO scandal that revealed a number of high athletes who were taking illegal substances. Six years after the seizure of BALCO documents, records identified the culprit as a designer steroid known as Madol. A subsequent raid on a bodybuilding enterprise revealed 16 supplements containing the unapproved drug as an ingredient.
At the meeting Novitzky presented proof of adverse Madol complications witnessed in athletes and consumers alike. Such problems included a significant fluctuation of blood values and liver enzymes after patients received “haphazard” dosages of the unapproved steroid. Accordingly, adverse complications may lead to fatal circumstances. “I personally have had the unfortunate experience of speaking to parents of kids who are no longer with us because of use or aftereffects of use of steroids,” he said. “They told me the reason they were doing that was because they were looking up to their role models.”
The introduction of dangerous and unapproved drugs to the U.S. market is a growing cause for concern. Thus, the FDA’s involvement in illegal doping of athletes is an obligation that they owe to the entire population of the United States. The use of such steroids, by high profile athletes, creates a demand for the same product in the general public. Subsequently, consumers are introduced to dangerous drugs that have not been approved by the FDA.
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