Ever since people created sports, athletes have always done and will continue to do anything they can to get an edge.
For example, Pud Galvin, 19th century baseball pitcher, openly took a Brown- Sequard elixir, a steroid precursor, derived from animal testicles. Even before that, according to sportsanddrugs.procon.org, the ancient Greeks took drugs to enhance their performance in the Olympic Games, as they experimented with herbal medications, took wine potions and ate animal hearts in search of any advantage. This historical precedent has continued into contemporary society, as athletes ranging from professional to high school are taking amphetamines such as Adderall and Vyvanse to gain an edge. These drugs have legitimate medical uses such as treating people with ADHD, but some athletes instead use them to gain an energy boost or to maintain hyper-focus through a sporting event. Harrison Macher (’15), who wrote his senior speech on the drugs used to treat ADHD, cautions those who think taking amphetamines will automatically give an athletic edge.
“Personally I have the exact opposite effect. Suddenly this season, I would puke my brains almost everyday,” he said. “Some people think that it helps but it is up for debate because different people experience different results. It increases your heart rate a lot, your metabolism is significantly faster and you are not taking in deep breaths when the chemicals are active in your body. At the same time you have an insane amount of energy so it is easy to overwork your body.”
Along with the effects that Macher mentioned, amphetamine use has also been scientifically proven to cause anxiety, high blood pressure, paranoid delusions and even nerve damage according to amphetaminerisks.com. This does not fully cover the side effects of these drugs. Macher says side effects are the hardest part to deal with, even with prescribed use.
“The one thing people need to realize about amphetamines is how common negative side effects are,” he said. “Two of them are not being hungry and not being able to sleep.”
While performance-enhancers are the drug of choice for many athletes, many have turned to drugs that have the exact opposite effect, such as depressants, like marijuana. Marijuana, according to an ESPN special report, impairs skills requiring eye-hand coordination and fast reaction times along with impairing concentration; in other words it is far from a performance enhancer.
“It is not easy to quantify this, but I would definitely say that someone who is smoking weed on a regular basis is going to perform a lot worse than someone misusing amphetamines,” Macher said. “They are going to be a lot slower along with many other effects.”