How drugs, alcohol and steroids influence the Golden Hawks

Graphic by Kash Patel

The choices you make are everything, especially at the stage of life when people are in university.

A lot is on the line and everything has an impact on your future. For student athletes, this also comes in the form of using drugs, alcohol, and especially performance-enhancing drugs.

It isn’t always easy to stray clear of these things as a student-athlete. With having a social life and partying comes alcohol and drugs which are a part of university culture whether people like it or not.

With the social status of being an athlete on campus, especially on a popular team, it can be even harder.

“Your head is like, ‘I wanna go out, I wanna drink with my friends’, right? It’s university culture but it’s almost like, does that fun and almost that blur outweigh how you’re gonna feel in the morning when you have practice? So, in terms of that, there’s a lot of positives you can gain in a social aspect,” fifth year rugby star Andrew Quattrin said.

The issue is what happens the next day when you have to get to workouts or practice. Being hungover or high is not exactly a push to being able to perform to the level required of a student athlete.

In regards to performance-enhancing drugs, the impact is totally different whether you’re caught or not. Studies have been done to show the impact it can have on people long-term and short-term. “Once you’re on it, yeah you can come off it but you’ll never be the same. There’s no reason for that. It almost ruins the sport if some guys are cheating and some guys are not,” Quattrin said.

The reason many get into performance enhancing drugs is to give themselves an advantage over their competition to reach their goals. It usually begins with those who feel they need that extra push from what they are naturally capable of.

Thinking short-term though, can cause long-term effects though. Whether they be anabolic steroids, human growth hormones or others, their effects are tremendous, especially for someone who ends up falling short even with the use of them.

There is a lot we do not know in regards to the marijuana legalization. While we may know its impacts from a health perspective, what about the impact it has on the lives of our student-athletes going forward?

Effects of steroids such as infertility, infrequent or absent periods (for women), high blood pressure, increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture and of human growth hormones like vision problems, an enlarged heart, joint pain, muscle weakness, amongst a list of risks do not make it worthwhile. The issue is people will still make the choice to take them or other performance enhancing drugs.

One thing that is for sure, the problem of performance enhancing drugs is more of a problem than people believe, and a case could be made that it is slept on by plenty of people.

“I think it is slept on. I think you almost don’t hear enough stories about people getting caught. At the start of the year, you do all these drug testing things and in my five years of university, I haven’t seen one guy come around doing drug tests. It’s almost like a scare tactic rather than they actually care,” Quattrin stated.

The only sport where it has really been news is football and that got a big boost in 2010 with the scandal at the University of Waterloo when the football program got shut down for a year after receiver Nathan Zettler was arrested for possession and trafficking of anabolic steroids and HGH.

Following that, Waterloo director of athletics Bob Copeland ordered the entire team be tested. The results of that came to be nine confirmed doping cases along with suspensions that were handed down.

From 2010-2014, there have been 14 university football players across every conference who failed drug tests since that scandal.

There were also four players who failed drug tests at the CFL combine from the CIS (now U-Sports).

The legalization of marijuana in Canada recently also changes everything. Will it be allowed in the world of sports here in Canada too? Will there be further education on performance-enhancing drugs in the near future?  Will there be more testing put forth?

There is a lot we do not know in regards to the marijuana legalization. While we may know its impacts from a health perspective, what about the impact it has on the lives of our student-athletes going forward?

The impact it has on one’s life once caught is immense because of the ban they would receive.

Some student athletes have futures in their sport, so a serious education of the impact of PEDs along with stricter testing to force the issue more needs to be done.

This cannot be something that flies under the radar because we see ourselves as having it better than in the U.S.

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