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Pennsylvania State House Passes Resolution Condemning PEDs

Pa. State Rep. Joe Hackett (R-Delaware)
Pa. State Rep. Joe Hackett (R-Delaware)Office of Pa. State Rep. Joe Hackett.

The Pennsylvania State House of Representatives passed a resolution last week that will make it much harder for organizations that support the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs - PEDs - to set up shop in the state.

House Resolution 626 “condemns the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes, rebuking any organization that knowingly allows or encourages athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs and urging all high school and college coaches and athletic directors in this Commonwealth to educate themselves and their athletes about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.” HR 626 won the overwhelming support of the House, passing 198-0.

State Rep. Joe Hackett (R-Delaware), sand the HR 626 sends the appropriate message to organizations that tread in the illegal - and many say, immoral - practice of advocating PED use.

“Drugging is rampant among some professional athletes, particularly within so-called ‘strongman’ competitions,” Hackett said, noting that there is no drug testing involved in many of these competitions. “Unfortunately, many of our young people feel the only way they can compete is by using anabolic steroids, human growth hormones, diuretics and stimulants, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke and cancer.”

PED use among Pennsylvania athletes is a real concern. Penn State convened last year a panel that that analyzed PED use in sports, but PED use isn’t only centered on those who take the drugs. University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Neuroscience and Society released a white paper earlier this month that confronted the ethical side of the debate, pointing out that not only the users are affected by PED use.

“How will the lives of all individuals, including those who chose not to enhance, be influenced by living in a society with widespread enhancement? In competitive situations such as SAT testing, we may end up needing the equivalent of the regulations surrounding performance enhancing drugs at sports events,” wrote paper author Martha J. Farah. “Even in everyday work and school contexts, enhancement is likely to touch all of us. The freedom not to enhance may be difficult to maintain in a society where one's competition is using enhancement to improve attention, memory, or the ability to withstand unsettling experiences. Conversely, barriers such as cost will prevent some people who would like to enhance from doing so. This could exacerbate the disadvantages already faced by people of low socioeconomic status in education and employment.”

Indeed, competition spurs individuals to consider using PEDs and organizations to support the drugs’ use - repercussions be damned.

“This is about one-upsmanship,” said Dr. Robert Sing, a sports medicine physician. “This is about cheating. Unfortunately, there are serious complications from this cheating.” Those complications include tumors, cardiovascular disease and tendon ruptures.

“This resolution sends a clear message to those who run these competitions,” said Al Thompson, sports director for the Delaware Valley Radio Network, who has been tracking the deaths of athletes he said are linked to PEDs. “We’ve had one death every eight months.”

Hackett, a member of the judiciary, Aging and Older Adult Services, Human Services, and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees, circulated a memo to Harrisburg colleagues that further outlined the need for HR 626.

“The use of performance enhancing drugs by athletes is an issue which has received widespread attention in recent years from professional sport leagues. Numerous stars of baseball and football have been caught using these substances and, subsequently, punished for doing so,” read a portion of Hackett’s memo. “However, lost in the discussion over whether the use of PEDs is cheating is the toll they take on a person’s body and mind. One such ‘sport’ that used to be promoted regularly by television sports networks was professional weightlifting. There is no drug testing involved in this competition. In fact, many argue that the use of PEDs is actually encouraged. The results of this blatant disregard for safety are mind-boggling. Since 2000, seven strongman competitors have died unexpectedly.

“The lack of oversight by the governing body of these strongman competitions recently led to ESPN dropping them from its programming schedule. However, the promotion of these events along with the occurrences in more prominent American professional sports causes me great concern for what example we are setting for our young student athletes,” Hackett continued in the memo, in which the representative noted that HR 626 will condemn the use of PEDs by athletes and rebukes any organization that knowingly allows or encourages the use of PEDs and calls on high school and college coaches and athletic directors in the state to educate themselves and their student athletes about the dangers of PEDs. “This is a growing issue in our society. The use of PEDs could arguably lead to other drug use and violent behavior and is a problem which must be addressed as soon as possible in an athlete’s career if any changes are going to be made.”