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Supplements create risks to users

Throughout time people have always wanted to be the best they can be, or strove for unreachable goals. Because of this people have turned to science to find a way to enhance themselves so they can be better than the best and reach past those unreachable goals.

This generation’s miracle drugs are not completely illegal in all sports, but the question is: are they ethical? These miracle drugs are: creatine, androstenedione and the most recently banned ephedra. Do these legal drugs do what they say, or should the enhancement these drugs offer be mixed, dissolved and served chilled with a side of too good to be true?

Creatine is a natural substance that everyone already has in their body. Our bodies produce it much like testosterone or estrogen, and it can also be found in some of the foods we eat such as red meat.

According to the National Federation of State High School Association, creatine is energy and helps regenerate muscular tissue.

“Creatine phosphate plays a critical role in the production of energy required for muscular contraction in short term exercise. The energy production in short term work appears to depend significantly on the amount of creatine in the cell. Thus, the more creatine in the cell the greater the amount of more forceful short-term workout can be done. The primary reason athletes take creatine is to increase overall strength and the ability to do repetitive, intense short term work.”

Sounds like a pretty plausible idea that the more creatine you take the better you can be strength and quickness wise. But according to Mike Hanhold, senior and club baseball player at the University, creatine isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“I used to take creatine in high school and in the beginning of college to enhance my muscle mass so I could compete with the big boys,” Hanhold said. “But after a certain amount of time the body starts to rely on the drug, sort of a mental addiction, and if you stop taking them your body will start to retain water and bloat your muscles. There is no end to the cycle of these drugs, once you start you have to keep taking them.”

Creatine isn’t the only drug that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, androstenedione (the supplement that helped Mark McGwire break the home run record) is considered to be a legal steroid. According to an article on cnn.com by medical correspondent Steve Salvatore, “Androstenedione, the popular supplement touted as enhancing athletic performance in men does not increase testosterone in the blood or enhance muscle as previously believed, and it can be dangerous. Researchers found men who took androstenedione had raised amounts of female hormones, and these men who take androstenedione also developed changes in blood cholesterol.” None of the three enhancement drugs have been approved or banned by the FDA until the recent banning of Ephedra, a natural supplement that is said to suppress your appetite and also give you more energy.

According to Garrett Truman, senior and self-proclaimed personal trainer, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to endorse these drugs.

“I can’t say that I’ve tried Ephedra or androstenedione, but I don’t think there is really any good reason to take these supplements,” Truman said. “Long before it was banned, Ephedra was said to be the cause to certain athlete’s deaths. I mean I can see the appeal to such drugs because of what they claim to do, but I feel that if you are truly committed to getting into shape, then the healthiest way is to do it all by yourself and leave the performance enhancers on store shelves. I know when I took it it was difficult to go out on the weekends cause it didn’t seem to mix with alcohol very well.”

As of right now these drugs are not banned by the NCAA, but is using these drugs to get an edge in performance ethical? According to Justin Koterba, freshman shortstop for Duke University’s baseball team, yes to a certain extent.

“I take creatine and I don’t think it should be illegal in any sports besides in high school. All creatine does is add more creatine to your body to produce more water and make your muscles stronger, and as of right now they haven’t proved anything is bad with it,” Koterba said.

Creatine and androstenedione are not banned by the FDA but ephedra is.

“Androstenedione is like a small steroid, it has the same effects as steroids and everyone has heard of the downfalls and legality issues of taking them, and ephedra is just a dangerous supplement to begin with, so they should be banned in all sports,” Koterba said. “Until creatine is deemed inappropriate to use in athletics or is deemed harmful to your body by the FDA, anyone including myself should be able to have the choice of ingesting these supplements. Nobody ever questioned the ethical standpoint of someone who took Ginseng before a test to clear their mind.”

The question, if these drugs are ethically and legally reprehensible is still being examined. Are these supplements a miracle of Science? Are they an unfair advantage? Are they ethically wrong? Should they be banned?

“With all of the controversies surrounding professional and collegiate athletics, the last thing they need is the reputation of having a drug problem,” Hanhold said. “Athletes should work their own way to get where they want to and not rely on on a pill or powder.”

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