The Tour de France, a 21-day, 2,131-mile race ending in the Champs-Elysees in Paris has begun. Cycling has the unique distinction of being notoriously associated with steroid-warehouse use. As a result, the sports commission has raised it’s level of monitoring athletes for doping to a very high standard.
Even with new technology to detect steroids in athletes it is an ongoing problem. Italy’s anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri states, “I’m not the only one saying it. Lately, all of the cyclists I’ve interrogated have said that everyone dopes.”
Why do some athletes resort to using anabolic steroids and others don’t? A simple question with a complex answer. More similarities than differences exist between athletes using and not using steroids. It’s a thin line to cross. The athletes share a common goal. The approach, however, is at opposite ends of the spectrum.
1. Thinking errors lead to cheating. Athletes easily feel they can justify their actions. The desire to stand out from other athletes clouds their judgment. The focus is on winning by bending the rules.
2. Shortcuts. The quickest way to build muscle and strength is not always the best strategy. Performance enhancing drugs, or doping, builds muscle quickly. Athletes under pressure to meet performance goals might consider drugs to give them an edge. Could they reach those goals on their own? Possibly, but it takes more time, effort and dedication to do what’s right.
3. Immediate results without considering long term consequences. Performance is the bottom line. What are the risks? Well, athletes have been stripped of their victories for positive tests. Scandals are created. Steroid use has poses a wide range of risks. Some are physical and others are emotional. The short list includes premature heart attack, impotence, impulse and anger issues commonly referred to as “roid rage.” Steroids come with a high price tag.
4. Ego gets in the way. It’s selfish. Substance use does not only impact the athlete. Often they kid themselves that it is only going to affect them. But over and over again, time has proven that is not the case. People in your circle, whether teammates, coaches or family, are impacted by an athletes drug use.
5. Believe they won’t get caught. This is one of the biggest differences between athletes choosing to take the risk. The possibility of getting caught, or having side effects from the drug, will not happen to them. Bottom line, they are not afraid of the consequences.
Getting caught using steroids has significant consequences beyond the athlete. In fact, using steroids is self centered. The choice to dope does not consider the impact of others. If an athlete is found guilty his team, family and country also experience consequence.
Other hidden negative consequences exist even if the athlete is never discovered. Athletes using steroid are probably cutting other corners as well. To use is a personal choice, albeit an illegal one. Their thinking process causes them to justify use. It is dishonest. Rarely does an athlete who has been caught own up to their use. Why? To avoid punishment. It’s as simple as that. There is no integrity with cheating.
Do you want to be bigger, stronger and faster? How much are you willing to risk to achieve your goal? If you identify with any of the above qualities, consider it a red-flag. Your goal might be top performance. Don’t squander away your integrity or personal values. Maintaining peak performance requires personal growth. Taking short cuts robs you from developing your champion mindset.