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Bodybuilding and Steroids: An Ongoing Controversy

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    Throughout many generations as well as the present day, bodybuilding has been a much favored sport in the fitness industry. The question first begins with what a sport is determined to be. The definition seems to be: “a human activity capable of achieving a result requiring physical exertion and skill, which by nature, is competitive” (Kennedy 121). Conceivably, bodybuilding fits the definition; However, the primary problem that bodybuilders, the industry, and just the name, bodybuilding, in general face are the numerous controversial issues about the usage of anabolic drugs commonly referred to as steroids.

    The FDA has banned any and all steroids, causing them to be illegal; Yet, in the sport of bodybuilding, in order to manipulate one’s body, one must consume hormones that are beyond a days dosage of organic foods and minerals. The sport of bodybuilding, is without a doubt, one of the most respected sports due to its extreme discipline of the body and mind. Thus the controversy remains as this: why would the FDA continue to ban anabolic drugs from an industry that, for a portion of its influencers, need these hormones to continue to live up to the bodybuilding legacies?

    Why is the FDA banning these substances? Also, another controversy that is frequently brought up is: why cant fitness experts, such as master trainers and nutritionists, etc… come up with substitutes that correspond to the drugs, yet remain legal? As a fitness model and competitor in the fitness industry, it is understandable that other competitors, most men and few women, do take supplements which increase both strength and muscle mass of the individual.

    It is also a known fact in the fitness industry that most supplements taken, whether it be anabolic steroids which are stated to be, “synthetic steroid hormones that resembles testosterone in promoting the growth of the muscle and enhancement of physical performance” (Kennedy 125), to phentermine which is an, “anti-suppressant drug which binds to the receptors on the hypothalamus, affecting the part of the brain that controls appetite” (Kennedy 88), are illegal by the FDA as well as the fitness federations and industry itself.

    Although these supplements are illegal in the industry, it is obvious that they play a significant role in manipulating the body to rise to the standards by which these competitions, magazines, and industry judge. The questions that persist are why the FDA opposes steroids when it is up to the individual’s right to take them? Likewise, how do nutritionists and body builders interpret these supplements to be affective in the industry and why take them?

    Both perspectives have been brought forth through researching the FDA’s perspective and interviews with master trainer and ranked bodybuilder, Tina Chandler, and one of America’s top nutritionist’s, Johnnie West. The FDA, also known as the Food and Drug Administration, has banned and made illegal numerous products marketed as steroids or steroid-like substances, many of which are labeled as dietary products. They aim their efforts towards the sports associations, namely bodybuilding and its competitors because of the high percentage of users in the fitness industry. Why does the FDA say that these products are considered illegal?

    The answer, “The products provided are unapproved drugs because they are not generally recognized as safe or effective. They are potentially harmful and misleading” (FDA Food and Drug… par. 6). The FDA works alongside with the Anti-Doping Agency to drug test bodybuilders and other competitors in the industry. If caught with positive results in the fitness industry, the person may be banned from the federation. The FDA and Anti-Doping Agency immensely push to instill the negative effects of supplements and the serious long-term adverse health consequences that men and women may obtain.

    They list problems associated with anabolic supplements such as: “liver toxicity, testicular atrophy and male infertility, masculinization of women, adverse effects on blood fat levels, and the potential increase of heart attacks and strokes” (Hitti par. 2). Tren Xtreme, Mass Xtreme, and Estro Xtreme are among the supplements cited by the FDA as containing steroid-like substances. Under the law, dietary supplements are defined as, “products that contain minerals and herbs, and do not claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure specific illnesses” (Shmidt par. 5). Thus, the FDA recommends and lists regular, legal foods, which are effective in gaining muscle mass and weight loss. These foods are listed: cottage cheese, lean ground beef, soy, eggs, chicken, fish, and vegetables.

    Lastly, Andrew Shao, the vice president for the Science and Regulation Council of Responsible Nutrition, working with the FDA, states that “it is very difficult to ban all substances proven illegal in an industry that strives off of them, making 2. 8 billion dollars in sales every year” (Shmidt par. 7). They cannot apprehend everyone who takes dietary supplements and anabolic steroids, but are doing their best to make a difference by promoting healthier ways to maintain a well and safe structured body. Controversial to the FDA, Tina Chandler, who is a master trainer and a nationally known woman bodybuilder, stated that although the FDA is correct about the adverse effects of dietary supplements, they are erroneous when stating that they are ineffective. In a face to face interview, Mrs.

    Tina Chandler stated, “I believe the FDA wants people to think otherwise about the usage of steroids and thats why they say that they are ineffective, which is understandable because they do contain adverse effects, but after being in this industry for ten years, I would definitely disagree with their comment, they are very effective and have helped me to be at the top of this industry competition-wise. ” I brought forth the question with which I was most concerned about, why not take legal supplements or just eat appropriately to gain positive affects? Also, if she considered steroids bad for the health, by example of her own personal usage?

    After taking quite a bit of time to respond, she stated, “regular foods do not contain enough testosterone to help me grow as quickly as I need to and other legal supplements are made for people who just want to stay in shape, not for bodybuilders who are thriving to gain a lot of mass as quickly as possible. It’s just not enough. Personally, I have never felt any negative effects from what I have taken. ” The last most important question I asked her was if she thought that the industry will eventually fall due to the FDA? She then declared “I know for a fact that this industry will not fall because of the FDA.

    Too many people rely on us to motivate them for their own fitness lifestyle. If the FDA stopped everyone who used steroids, there would, I believe, be a major economic downfall because too many people use steroids as a means to generate income whether it be from competitions, magazines, or personal training. Our job is different than others, but it is still a career. ” Before the interview was over she commented that she agreed with what the FDA is doing, which is trying to help people maintain healthy lives and warn people about the effects they may obtain with the usage of steroids, if they decided to use them. They are just trying to do their job, and us bodybuilders are just trying to do ours. ”

    Right after the interview with Tina Chandler, I jumped into an interview with well known and Mrs. Chandlers nutritionist, Mr. Johnnie West. Throughout the interview with him, he ensured me that the fitness industry would not fall, whether or not the intake of supplements, legally or illegally, was in effect. I asked him why this was and his response was as such: “Everyone wants to see bodybuilders be huge and cut and veiny, but when a person finds out what they are taking they throw a huge fit. He also went into further detail with a few examples, “also, like in professional sports, everyone wants to see the quarterback get knocked out to the point where he cannot get up, but the guys who tackle him need to be taking supplements in order to do that. A person’s body does not naturally configure the person to act in a way as to be so strong. People are hypocritical, they want to see these things happen, yet they downgrade the supplements these athletes have to take. The Industry understands that, so in order to keep the business thriving, they need to be lenient every now and then.

    It’s not cheating if everyone is doing it. ” To keep it short and sweet, one my last questions to him was if these steroids or diuretic supplements, legal or not, were as bad as everyone insisted on them to be? He exclaimed, “There is really not that much of a difference, if you do not cycle out and cleanse your own body of any and all types of proteins or other supplements, it may cause you to have some problems, but other than that it is usually the same, depends on the person and how they take them, also if they contain knowledge about what they are taking and how to manipulate it to work for their body. Being that I am a fitness model in the fitness industry, I was aware that the usage of steroids and other dietary supplements was not only an important aspect of competitions, federations, and the industry itself, but that it contained adverse effects and was illegal. What I also assumed was that bodybuilders disagreed with the FDA’s commentaries on steroids and how harmful and illegal they were.

    But, after diving into both sides of this controversy, I have come to apprehend the real thoughts and mindsets that bodybuilders contained about the FDA, those of which I did not know before. Fitness experts and bodybuilders support the FDA’s theories and illegalities of drugs, and respect the statements made by them, but fitness is a thriving and growing industry, this is both a lifestyle and a business for them.

    They will do anything in their path, whether it be legal or not, to be the best at what they do and create an income for themselves, so why stop them from what they love? This controversy will be never-ending, and there will never be a right side to the story. Only time will tell whether the industry will fall or not, but until then, let the competitions continue, or as the bodybuilders say, “I’m not saying that I don’t take steroids, but I an assure you that I will never get caught. ”

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