Testosterone And Steroids

Testosterone And Steroids Are Ruining Athletics, Competition Isn't Competition If You're Cheating

Athletics are certainly changing.

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Testosterone is a steroid molecule synthesized in the gonads of both men and women (by the Leydig cells of the testes and by the ovaries, respectively), and is secreted by the adrenal cortex in response to LSH and FSH secretion from the anterior pituitary gland in order to stimulate the development of secondary male sex characteristics, such as increased bone density, libido and muscle strength.

Its proliferation into the world of international competition as a performance-enhancing drug is well-documented — in 2006, American Olympic Sprinter Justin Gatlin was banned from competition after confirmation of his testosterone usage, and in 2013 former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to utilizing testosterone, as well as EPO (a hormone naturally produced by the kidneys to stimulate the production of red blood cells) in order to maximize oxygen input to the muscles during intense physical activity.

In order to combat the pervading rise of performance-enhancing drugs in international competition, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) developed strict guidelines to promote what they claim to be the sanctity of fair and open competition. Part of their plan entailed setting a limit on the number of testosterone women who were competing were allowed to have in circulation, with levels above five nanomoles per liter being deemed ineligible for competition without hormone treatment.

This ruling has the potential to harm the competitive capability of a plethora of athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone, such as South African Olympic 800m Champion Caster Seymana, who has filed a case against the IAAF for banning her from competition for over a year due to her above-average testosterone levels.

While the IAAF's rationale behind their decision appears sound at face value, medical professionals have deemed the guidelines as "unscientific" and without merit. Dr. Sheree Bekker from the University of Bath, as well as Professor Cara Tannenbaum from the University of Montreal, have claimed that serum testosterone levels alone cannot define biological sex or physical function, and that such a hastily-made resolution could have far-reaching implications for future generations of athletes with natural physiology that could be perceived as a genetic advantage.

They argue that testosterone levels are just one indicator of sports performance that does not factor in a wide variety of conditions, and they take issue with an analysis commissioned by the IAAF that attempted to identify the causation between high levels of testosterone and performance in a sport since these results could not be independently reproduced. The decisions made regarding such a crucial aspect of fair competition in international competitions such as the Olympics and the Diamond League will have significant impacts on the manner in which athletes will be deemed eligible for competition for many years to come.

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Trust Me, You're Going To Miss It

Yeah, cheerleading is its own kind of Hell, but don't take it for granted.
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Last week, I spent close to three hours watching videos from the recent Cheersport Nationals, a huge cheerleading competition held in Atlanta, GA.

As an ex-cheerleader, one that cheered for close to 11 years, I felt the familiar ache in my stomach watching all the teams I had grown up watching and idolizing take the stage I had taken so many times in Atlanta. As I watched the excitement of the crowd and felt the adrenaline through the computer screen, I realized something that I hadn't thought about in years: I would never have that feeling again.

And while I gave up cheerleading willingly, and pretty happily, I hardly ever thought about all the old memories and feelings I associated with the big bows, tight uniforms and copious amounts of glitter. But now, for the first time in years, I felt sad to not be up on the stage with all of the other athletes, doing something that had driven me absolutely insane at times but that had also been such a huge part in my life.

Take it from me, an old washed up cheerleader, that would probably break half the bones in my body if I even attempted a front walkover, you will miss cheerleading. It doesn't matter if you're an all-star that grew up in a gym, or a high-schooler that fell in love with the sport while on the sidelines, a part of you will always wish you could walk back onto that stage and compete just one more time.

I and every other retired cheerleader will attest to it: You're going to miss it.

You're going to miss the love/hate relationship you have with your coaches after they've been screaming at you for the better part of two hours.

You're going to miss the bond you have with your teammates, some that you won't see again after that last competition.

You're going to miss the ache in your feet associated with convention centers, and all the naps you took on their hard, concrete floors.

You're going to miss the headache from your ponytail, and having everything you own be covered in glitter for months at a time.

You're going to miss that feeling you get in the split second between "It's on," and when the music and that first 8-count starts. The feeling that makes you feel as though you're going to throw up, not be able to move, and forget your entire routine all at once.

But most of all, you're going to miss the feeling after you hit the routine you and your team have been practicing for months and the adrenaline high that comes with it. The feeling of being on top of the world, that's a drug in itself.

SEE ALSO: 20 Signs You Were A High School Cheerleader

So, while you have it, enjoy it. Because there are hundreds of ex-athletes that would absolutely kill to experience just one of those feelings again, and you get to have all of them.

Cover Image Credit: swishaaasweets.tumblr

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Narcan Trainings Should Be Just As Required As CPR Trainings, EVERY Human Has The Right To Survive

A life is a life, whether they're an addict or not.

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More than 63,600 people died of a drug overdose in 2016 and roughly two-thirds of these deaths were caused by opioids, killing more people than car accidents, guns, or breast cancer. The opioid epidemic is in full swing and no one is immune to the damage being caused by it — not celebrities, not young people, not anyone. At a time when our life expectancy is falling for the first time since the 60s and a fifth of all deaths among Americans aged 24 to 35 are due to opioids, it has never been more necessary to get life-saving means into the hands of individuals everywhere.

Luckily, these kinds of life-saving means do exist. Naloxone, more commonly known as Narcan, is a medication designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose by binding to opioid receptors and reversing and blocking the effects of other opioids, often available in either a nasal spray or injection. Trainings are usually free and pop up in most communities every month or so. From 1996 to 2014, at least 26,500 opioid overdoses in the U.S. were reversed by laypersons using Narcan and Narcan prescriptions filled at U.S. pharmacies increased 1170% between 2013 and 2015.

The potential is incredible. Unfortunately, it's not necessarily being reached. Most laypersons are not Narcan trained, either because they don't know what it is or they don't think they'll ever be around someone who overdoses. But just like we get CPR trained just in case something ever happens, we should all be getting Narcan trained, as well. While most of us probably don't think we'll ever end up in that situation, it happens. And it can mean the difference between life and death.

As Dr. Stephen Jones, a researcher with the CDC says, "In order for [Narcan] to be most effective, we need to get it into the hands of people who are most likely to be on the scene of an overdose." That's why initiatives that bring Narcan to people who use themselves are so important. No one wants their friend to die. But the truth is, no community is untouched by this epidemic. The more people we get Narcan trained, the fewer people we will see die from something absolutely preventable. And the more people will have a chance to recover and get their lives back.

A lot of jobs require CPR training, and a lot of companies arrange for a day of training so their employees can learn how to intervene in an emergency situation. Narcan training should be just required. A life is a life, whether they're an addict or not.

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