Lance Armstrong and the Pursuit of Winning

January 21, 2013 Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

Unless you’ve been living under a rock then you have undoubtedly heard about the recent admission by Lance Armstrong that he used anabolic steroids during his pursuit of seven straight Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005. This public admission has served to once again highlight the use of steroids by athletes to enhance their athletic performance. From weightlifters like Lou Ferrigno to baseball players like Barry Bonds, the professional sports world has been rocked by these scandals. But are these substances addictive?

Are Steroids Addictive?

Research points out that yes they are:

Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them—including mood swings, fatigue, rest-lessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid crav-ings, all of which may contribute to continued abuse. One of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms is depression—when persistent, it can sometimes lead to suicide attempts. Research has found that some steroid abusers turn to other drugs such as opioids to counteract the negative ef-fects of steroids. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, July 2012).

The Culture of "Win At Any Cost"

So why do athletes take these risks? Some, like Lance Armstrong stated in his interview with Oprah Winfrey, are so competitive that they will do anything to win. Armstrong also admitted that, at the time, he did not necessarily see anything wrong with what he was doing due to the culture of the cycling world that bought into this illegal practice.

Steroids and High School Students

But this problem is not just linked to professional athletes. Use of anabolic steroids among high school students is on the rise as well. There are a number of reasons for this: advantage on the playing field, push some extra weight in the gym, or simply just to look "buff." Unfortunately, many of our youth are not fully aware of the many dangers of steroid use or like those who use other illicit drugs, they may have the, “It won’t happen to me syndrome.”

So, where do we go from here? Like any other addiction-related concern, education and early intervention is key. Stories like Lance Armstrong’s serve to highlight the dangers of steroid use but there is more work to be done. As long as our professional athletes continue to be placed on pedestals and the culture of “win at any cost” be tolerated we will have to face such stories again.

APA Reference
Shallowhorn, K. (2013, January 21). Lance Armstrong and the Pursuit of Winning, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 11 from

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

January, 26 2013 at 3:27 pm

Great albeit sad post Karl. We need to keep talking about this with our young athletes.

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