Gov't Set to Step In on Pro Drug Testing
Lawmakers Threatening to Clamp Down on Anabolic Steroids
July 7, 2005 -- Professional sports leagues could soon face a new federal
law clamping down on anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs
used by athletes.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic male sex hormones. They can be prescribed by
doctors to treat conditions resulting from low testosterone. Steroid
supplements such as DHEA and androstenedione (known as Andro) can be purchased
legally without a prescription.
Motivation to abuse these drugs is often driven by the desire to build
muscle and improve sports performance, according to the National Institute on
Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Congress is considering several proposals to set a single standard on drug
testing and penalties for athletes in major professional leagues, including the
National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball
Association. The moves come after
Some lawmakers and experts have called for a strict testing and penalty
regimen similar to the one used by Olympic authorities. Many blame
steroid-using sports professionals for setting a tone that glorifies use by
American adolescents. Anabolic steroid abuse is increasing among adolescents,
writes the NIDA,
"We've got to cut this off at the head. It doesn't trickle down to our
kids, it cascades down," Charles Yesalis, PhD, a steroid researcher from
Pennsylvania State University, tells WebMD.
There are many breast enlargement can result from abuse
of the drug. In females, the development of male characteristics can occur such
as excess body hair and deepening of the voice. Liver abnormalities and cancer,
abnormal blood cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure can also be seen
when these drugs are abused.
decreased sperm count, impotency, and
In 2004, 3.4% of
some point in their lives, though some other estimates are higher.
But several sports leagues are resisting lawmakers' attempts to regulate
drug testing, and it remains unclear how far Congress will go to enact tough
One bill circulating on Capitol Hill would put the federal government in
charge of policing drug testing in pro leagues. Athletes would face a two-year
suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second. Leagues would
also face still fines for failing to comply with testing rules.