Sports and Steroids

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Do steroids make sports better? What problems do steroids cause? Are there any benefits? Joshua Leo and Liz Waid look at the issue of using steroid drugs in sports.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Joshua Leo.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Jaap Stam was living the dream of many young people. He was an athlete. Playing football was his job. As a sports player, Stam was healthy and successful. He had played for the famous football team Manchester United. He had a new job on another good football team – Lazio. But, in 2001 he took a test. The test found that he had used the drug steroids.

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Voice 2 

Stam spent four months banned from football. He said that he had not used steroids on purpose. Stam returned to play football for many years. But he is only one of many athletes who have taken steroids. Why do some athletes use these drugs? What effect do steroids have on the body and on sports? Today’s Spotlight is on sports and steroids.

Voice 1 

Steroids are a strong version of testosterone. Human bodies create testosterone naturally. Women have low levels of testosterone. Men usually have higher levels of testosterone. This is why men usually have more muscle – the hard tissue on the body that gives people strength.

Pills; Image by Charles Thompson from Pixabay
Voice 2 

Steroids give a person a very high level of testosterone. This makes the muscles in a person’s body grow faster and larger. Steroids were first invented as a medicine. They can be taken in by mouth, rubbed on the skin or injected. They have been used to treat people with cancer, HIV and AIDS and other diseases. But people who are not sick also use steroids.

Voice 1 

Athletes began using steroids in the 1950s. Steroids gave athletes an advantage. They could be stronger and faster than their competitors. By the 1960s many major sports organizations had passed laws against using steroids. The organizations began to test athletes to make sure that they were not using steroids.

Voice 2 

But if taking steroids was against the rules, why would athletes take them? Some people say that athletes feel a large amount of pressure to win. They think that athletes use steroids because other people expect so much of them. Athletes must always run faster, jump higher and be stronger! Jose Conseco is a famous baseball player in the United States. He admitted to using steroids. He told the U.S. House of Representatives:

Voice 3 

“There was so much pressure to win games, please my supporters, and get the big contract, for more money. It led me, and others, to behaviour that would produce immediate results. This is the same pressure that leads young people today to that same behaviour.”

Voice 1 

For these reasons, some athletes choose to take steroids. But when they do, they are also facing many risks. There are professional risks and also social and physical risks. Omar Ortiz is a football player from Mexico. In 2010 he took a test that said he had taken steroids. He was banned from playing football for two years.

Voice 2 

An athlete may also lose her awards. Marion Jones is a runner. In the year 2000 she won five medals at the Olympic games. But Jones had to return her awards because she had used steroids. Jones understood that her use of drugs affected her body. She also saw that it affected many other people. The Washington Post reports that Jones said:

Voice 4  

“I want to apologize to you all for all of this. I am sorry for making you all sad in so many ways.”

Marion Jones in 2006
Marion Jones in 2006; Thomas Faivre-Duboz, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Voice 1 

There are also problems for the sport when people are found to be using steroids.  Sports are based on being healthy and playing fairly – by the rules. People may lose interest in a sport if they know that some athletes have an unfair advantage.

Voice 2 

Steroids can also have many negative effects on physical health. These are problems with growing well and skin and hair problems. Steroids can also cause problems with the heart and the liver. They increase the chance of stroke and cancer. There are also side effects of steroids that affect behavior. People who use steroids can become very angry without reason. The steroids may make them feel sad and worried. But many people use steroids even when they know the risks of physical problems.

Voice 1 

And many of the people who use steroids are quite young.  Dr. Linn Goldberg works for the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. She tells the news organization MSNBC:

Voice 5 

“Sports role models are very powerful in a young child’s life. They think that if a professional athlete had to use that, then maybe I should use that.”

Voice 2 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse looked at young people in the United States. They found that over half of a million young people are using steroids. These 13 to 15 year olds care very much about doing well in sports. They are also very concerned about having a strong body. They are even willing to take risks with their health. Studies show that using steroids is even more dangerous for very young people.

A man poses at a bodybuilding competition
A man poses at a bodybuilding competition; Image by fvasallo from Pixabay
Voice 1 

Yet there are also people with different ideas about steroids and sports. Some people argue that steroids should be made legal. Some people say that steroids are not very different than what athletes have been doing for many years. Kenan Malik of the BBC says:

Voice 6 

“But scientists already help athletes win. Cyclist Chris Boardman won his Olympic Gold in 1992. He was sitting on a specially created machine – his two wheeled bicycle. In the Rugby World Cup, England players wore special shirts. These shirts were very close to their bodies. They were designed so the other team could not hold on to them. In these two cases the scientific work did not reduce the sporting victory. Why should we see drug use differently?”

Voice 2 

Other people say that if steroids were legal, they would cause less damage. Adrianne Blue writes in The New Statesman:

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“Steroids may not be desirable, but they are here to stay. We should make steroids legal. Then they can be controlled. And athletes will not take too much and do themselves damage.”

Voice 1 

Do you think that making steroids legal would be a good solution? What is the effect of steroid use on your favorite sport? You can leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at You can also find us on Facebook – just search for spotlightradio.

Voice 2 

The writer and producer of this program was Rena Dam. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Sports and Steroids’.

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!


Do you think using steroid drugs harms sports or does it improve an athlete’s skill? Should sports organizations allow steroid use?



Discuss this program with us!
Join the discussion

  • Unless I play for football team , I will take steroids for personal workouts.
    But I agree completely that steroids illegal in official competition

  • I think legalizing the use of steroids is a bad idea. after the legalization of steroids, they will be used uncontrolled, and this will affect the health of athletes even more than now. for athletes, it will be a choice without a choice, as in fights without rules

  • I think it first hlep athlete in sports and shape physically but after time it causes dangerous. I think government should do laws

  • I think steroid drugs should not be widely used because it is very harmful to health, and it does not properly evaluate health. Organizations should not allow the use of steroid drugs

  • Of course, I think using the steroid drugs harms for sports and athlete’s. I wish they continue at banding the steroid drugs, and rise penalties to a higher level. Because the steroid drugs is very dengerous for athlete’s and excessive use leads to problem in a healthy, social, and physical person.

  • I think steroids make football players faster and less tired that’s what steroids effect on football players and I thinks making it legal is a big mistake the FIFA could do

  • Yes , certainly steroid drugs can help an athlete to improve skills. And they shouldn’t organizations allow steroid use.

  • Steroids are bad for health. I will not take it
    and I will say to all athletes that don’t take this rubbish.

  • yes , I think steroids harms the competitions and players, and if we allow using a steroid drugs that will be a sport cheating, it is unfair way to win and therefor the sport audience will lose there interest to attend and watch competitions sport , to summarize taking a steroids drugs will kill the sport joy , but I want to point there is some false accusations for some players , they never taking steroids but because there is a responsible have envy for a player , he accuses him taking a drug while he totally innocent so must be a Strict control for any kind of fraud.

  • i think some people they uses steroid, they are have a goal and they want complete this goal fast.they don’t know result ater that

  • sports organizations should not make steroids legal because the effect of the steroids work for a period of time and its not improve them skills

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