Major League Baseball’s Ryan Braun and Performance Enhancing Drugs

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By Tage Olsin via Wikimedia Commons

Illegal testosterone: Bad for the game, bad for the players. Image by Tage Olsin

During the 2011 Major League baseball playoffs, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun tested positive during a urine test for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

He was notified of this positive test in October of 2011, and has since been suspended, appealed the suspension, had the suspension lifted, and is now once again embroiled in a scandal with the “anti-aging” Biogenesis clinic in Coral Gables, FL.

For Ryan Braun, his performance enhancing drug (PED) of choice was synthetic testosterone. His testosterone to epitestosterone ratio should have been one to one. To test positive, his ratio had to be above four to one, meaning the testosterone levels in his body were more than four times higher than normal.

What is Testosterone?

Both men and women have the naturally occurring sex hormone testosterone in their body. Testosterone is an important hormone which stimulates metabolic processes such as protein synthesis and muscle growth, and helps determine bone mass, musculature, fat distribution, and hair patterns in individuals. In men, testosterone determines all sexual and physical characteristics such as build, deep voice, facial and body hair and balding patterns.

Testosterone plays a role in sexual drive for both men and women.  Athletes abuse steroids such as testosterone to build bigger, stronger muscles and recover more quickly from workouts.  With testosterone they can increase their muscle mass and bone density beyond what their body would naturally allow, and they can workout for hours and recover quickly.

Legal Use of Testosterone

Legal testosterone is a prescription medication that comes as an injection, pill, cream, gel and patch.  Men with low testosterone levels can experience unpleasant effects such as lowered libido, muscle weakness, depression, and loss of mental ability.  Prescription testosterone is designed to reverse these effects in men.

Abuse of Testosterone

Testosterone abuse can cause liver damage, high cholesterol levels, heart and circulatory problems and may affect the prostate and cause cancer, as well. Other side effects include gynaecomastia, which is the development of breasts in men, as well as acne, psychiatric problems, and infertility.  The mortality rate for steroids users is almost 4 times higher than that of the general population.

Doping Dangers

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) tests athletes randomly in professional athletics to help prevent the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs such as testosterone, but players continue to test positive. Athletes are always looking for ways to become stronger, faster, and better at their game, but the abuse of steroids leads to heart attacks, mental problems and infertility.

Ryan Braun and other athletes put their health at risk every time they abuse steroids such as testosterone, just to illegally gain an edge in their sport.

Resources

Lupica, Mike. Ryan Braun, after playing the victim for over a year, finally gets what’s coming to him with MLB’s suspension. (2013). New York Daily News. Accessed July 26, 2013.

Payne, JR; P J Kotwinski, and H E Montgomery. Cardiac effects of anabolic steroids. (2004). National Institute of Health.  Accessed July 26, 2013.

Testosterone: Drug Information.  UpToDate.  Accessed July 26, 2013.

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