I'm not sure it's possible to be more fed up with more misinformation, more erroneous opining and more reefer madness hysteria surrounding steroids and their role in sports. It's time to set the record straight.
Attempting to stop steroid use in sports is about as dumb as trying to stop drug use in general. Wasn't that tried once before? Oh yeah, it was called Prohibition. How'd that work out again? If I got my facts straight, alcoholism rose, along with related crime, tax revenue from sales were lost, exacerbating the Great Depression, all the while profits were being reaped by the underworld. Nice work DEA!
Current drug laws cost us billions in a failed attempt at controlling the traffic. Time, effort and finances are wasted on incarceration when they should be spent on rehabilitation. Additional crime is committed by those who must steal in order to get enough money to purchase the drugs. So whom do these laws protect? Not me. You can put a pound of heroin on my living room table and I won't touch it. If someone else wants to be an idiot and take it, let them. It's the quintessential victimless crime. But that's a gripe for another time.
In previous articles, I've written from an editorial point of view where the topic may be discussed, debated, commended or condemned -- though the retorts often tend to be of a conflating nature and the opponents engage in ad hominem tactics. Be that as it may, this is a little different. I've been involved with the application of anabolic steroids for over 10 years. I've written dozens of articles and two books on the subject, interviewed professional bodybuilders, doctors, Olympic coaches and even BALCO bad boy Victor Conte. I've known hundreds of people who've used them for years, and have had personal experience with them as well.
This concludes the interview section of the program.
On to the use of steroids in sports and the stupidity that surrounds it.
Right out of the gate we need to dispel some ignorance. The O'Reillys of the world like to speak out against steroids as being killer drugs. It's estimated that that tens of thousands of Americans use steroids each year, yet the grand total of steroid-related deaths to this date is...none. As for side effects down the line, I've known men who used them back in the '60s and today, at the age of 60-plus, they're doing just fine and look a lot better than most men their age. The medical community is finally recognizing the health benefits of testosterone (the molecule from which all anabolic steroids are derived) and is prescribing it to older men with great success. In short, as with any drug, or alcohol, there is use, and there is abuse. So attacking the substance itself is barking up the wrong tree. And please don't mention Lyle Alzado. He used massive amounts of drugs since his teen years and even then, his death was never linked to the use of steroids.
Are steroids cheating? They sure will give an advantage. But so do many things. Caffeine is a drug that will increase focus and endurance. And it can be purchased by children! Is Tommy John surgery cheating? Aren't supplements and modern training techniques an added benefit? Sports Illustrated stands on its high horse inducing scare tactics about sports remaining "natural" yet its highest selling issue is the swimsuit issue filled with silicone, collagen, botox and yes, the possible use of drugs -- from diet pills and diuretics and even low doses of steroids to produce a leaner, harder body. (Incidentally, this year's Covergirl was born in 1990. Now, that is scary.)
Of course, steroids won't improve athletic skill, but extra strength can turn a fly ball into a home run. Thus the debate becomes more an issue of ideals. Isn't it time we shed this notion that athletes are sterling examples of responsibility, or even good sportsmanship? While we're at it, let's not put past champions on too high a pedestal. They simply didn't have the option. I'll bet if Ty Cobb had the chance to use steroids he'd be juiced to the gills. Knowing his erasable personality, Ty would most likely be a perfect example of "roid-rage", which is equivalent to being a "nasty drunk." It's not the booze that makes someone nasty. it just brings the nastiness out. The same goes for rage from steroids. They make you feel powerful. So if you're a jerk, adding more confidence will only make you a bigger jerk.
Testing for steroids is a farce. Some steroids have a half-life of only 24 hours. It cannot be contained and it will never be controlled. So instead of wrist slap warnings and lip service seminars on how horrible they are, why not just level the playing field? Allow them into sports. They're there anyway.
Ballplayers today are, in general, bigger and stronger. So just enlarge the field. Make the walls higher! This is actually what they did at CitiField and the results have been excellent. Instead of balls flying out of the park ten times a game (which is not exciting if it's too frequent, contrary to the belief that fans want more home runs) there are more extra bases, which add to the speed of the game. Let everyone use whatever they want and as much as they want and stop trying to be mommy and daddy to the world.
Does anyone really care if someone damaged his or her health by working too many hours? It happens every day. So why are we worried about what millionaire athletes do?
Steroids can be used responsibly if prescribed by a doctor. Maybe that's why the AMA was AGAINST making them a controlled substance. And here's something to think about: If there were a drug with marginal side effects that would make you smarter, would you take it? And what if it enabled you to excel to the point where you could double your earnings? What if not using them meant failure?
The cat is out of the bag and he isn't going back in. These drugs do amazing things and they will continue to be used. They come with a risk however. I'd rather see that risk controlled than have the users sneak around and support a black market in order to engage in what should be their inalienable right of free choice as long as the consequences don't endanger anyone else. As far as I'm concerned, if I want to juggle a couple of flaming chainsaws in the privacy of my own home, that's my option. It's funny to see the people who scream the loudest about civil liberties leading the march against others should and shouldn't do.
I'm not advocating or endorsing steroid use, but it's here to stay. And the biggest irony of it all is that most fans don't care. They'd rather see their favorite players playing, instead of penalized. What is the more egregious crime is the price of the tickets. And for that kind of money, I want to see a great performance, however it's achieved. And although I'm not a fan of the Hall of Fame in that it's not a museum as much as an elite club determined by committee, there should be an asterisk next to McQuire, Bonds, et al stating: "Post enhancement era." Would that be so hard?
Just as these drugs will add a few years to the career of a great pitcher by replacing that lost mile or two an hour on his fastball, they can extend youth and vitality for aging baby boomers. If used properly.
As for how the athletes use them, let it be their choice and stay out of it.
Now play ball!