With all the hype of payoffs to IOC members in the media today, it might sound as if that is the greatest threat to internataional sport. The real threat to the Olympics and international sport is the use of dangerous drugs which enhance the performance of professional and Olympic athletes around the world. Given the great number of athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs and evade detection, it might seem as if officials are turning a blind eye to the problem. Officials are in fact trying very hard in order to eliminate, or at least cut down, the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs. With corporate sponsorship and medals which can be worth millions of dollars, the pressure athletes are under is tremendous and they will use any method available to win. Olympic athletes are turning to a new sort of performance-enhancing drugs which are virtually invisible to standard official tests. These drugs give the athlete the invisible edge to defeat their opponents. The IOC has a group of individuals who test athletes for "illegal" drugs. The way in which they go about this is by taking urine samples to screen the athletes. Urine samples are not the best way to screen the athletes because the drugs can be easily hidden when the proper precautions are taken. Blood samples would be a much better form for detecting drugs because drug concentrations are higher in blood, and they are much easier to detect. There are a few drawbacks to blood testing such as the samples must be refrigerated, it's invasive and because of religious issues. The IOC finds themselves in a sort of Catch 22 on this subject. If they opt for blood testing, there will be an uproar in certain religious groups but they will be able to detect the drugs more effectively. If they opt to keep urine testing, it will keep the religious groups content but drug use will still run rampant. The pressure to win is tremendous on the athletes. "The millisecond difference between gold and silver can amount to millions in endorsement contracts and appearance fees " (Begley p.49) Athletes are continuously being bombarded by endorsers who put pressure on them to succeed in their events and make the company look good. With all this pressure, athletes turn to performance-enhancing drugs rather than continuous and diligent training to obtain maximum results. Olympic athletes are slowly straying from the traditional drugs such as stimulants and steroids and moving towards a new breed of performance-enhancing substances that are invisible to official IOC tests. Human growth hormone (hGH), erythropoietin (EPO), and testosterone have become the most popular of these drugs. Human Growth Hormone gives the athlete more energy and it cannot be detected because it is a natural hormone, so it doesn't show up in urine tests. Erythropoietin increases the number of red blood cells in the body and it is very hard to detect because the extra blood cells are the athlete's own. Testosterone is used to build muscles and the rules allow up to five time the natural body level. The real threat to the Olympics and professional sport is the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs. Officials are trying very hard to eliminate illegal drug use in international sport by conducting drug tests on all athletes to ensure there has been no drugs used. Pressures put on the athletes by endorsers and trainers are so tremendous that they resort to drugs to enhance their performance. The drugs that they now use are virtually undetectable by standard tests so this makes these drugs more attractive and desireable to competitors. Performance-enhancing drugs have infiltrated the ranks of the most elite athletes of the world. These drugs have made many and ruined many. Knowing full well of the consequences if they get caught, athletes seem more than willing to take that gamble in the pursuit of fame and fortune. In a society where much emphasis is placed on winning, can we really blame these athletes for taking drugs to enhance their performance? As long as our society emphasises winning, there will be wide use of performance-enhancing drugs in international sports.
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