There are so many myths and misconceptions that are continually being spread and perpetuated via the media – and others – with regards to steroids, that there’s a need for a lot of clarifications. This little item will not answer all the questions that people may have, nor can these words be considered the end all/be all on the subject. But we have to start somewhere.
Consider this as more of a FAQ that attempts to correct some of the major mistaken beliefs with regards to the vast subject area known as “Steroids.” So here goes….
1) Steroids Work. There is no doubt that steroids work. And by “work” I mean that, when used properly, they will make anyone and everyone – yes, anyone and everyone – better at any physical task. Steroids won’t “give” a person a skill that they don’t have. However, someone like a Major League Baseball player will become a better and more dangerous hitter on the juice. Why? Short answer: they make you stronger and help you recover quickly from training and competition. Of this there is no dispute.
2) Steroids Do Not Have to Make a Person Bigger. Too many people continue to say that they wouldn’t use steroids – or don’t think certain players use – because they don’t want/have big muscles. There are a whole host of steroids that – when used properly – do not result in “getting big.” Using Rafael Palmeiro as an example, the allegations are that he used a drug called “Stanozolol,” also known as “Winstrol.” Winstrol is a drug that – in the vernacular – people use for “cutting,” or “getting ripped,” which gives the user a lean but muscular appearance with little water retention.
The strength gains from using this drug are less than from using some of the more potent androgens, but would be extremely beneficial and appropriate for a baseball player, with the added benefit of not adding size. Getting too big could attract all kinds of unwanted attention to a Big Leaguer these days. The problem is – and Palmeiro found this out the hard way – this drug is easy to detect.
3) There’s Not a Lot of Research That Backs Up the Efficacy of Steroids. That would be correct. And big deal. Like it or not, the vast majority of “research” that has been conducted on what drugs work, how they work, how to take them and any other tidbits of info with regards to steroids, their use and the outcomes has been conducted in basements, garages and gyms over the past 40–plus years. And the people who have been conducting this “research” aren’t your typical white-coat and beaker types either, but are your body builder/power lifter gym rat types. Oh sure, there is some legit research out there on the subject, but this research doesn’t deal with the real world realities of steroids and their use. This research deals with – and must operate within – the parameters set by the ethical constrains of the real world and of the Hippocratic Oath. Athletes who want to cheat for fame and vast riches don’t care for such things.
“People With Dirty Hands” are the true experts when it comes to steroids, their use and misuse. The guy in the lab can tell you why steroids are bad for you, but they aren’t the experts when it comes to telling us why and how certain steroids work. Not on the scale that pertains to athletes who cheat.
The “Good Guys” have their hands tied as the ethical standards that they must abide by prevent them from being able to study steroids in a way that would lead to the understanding – from a “hard science” standpoint – of how they work for athletes and others who want to use them. And here’s why.
Steroids, when used by those looking to improve their performance, are used in quantities that far exceed the approved clinical doses, and are used for purposes outside of the intended. Not to mention that several different steroids are used simultaneously – known as “stacking” – as well.
To keep this as short as possible, legit science will never be able to study the effects of steroids on human subjects that mirrors the way they are used in the real world. Legit science will never allow humans to be subjected to massive doses of multiple kinds of steroids – or any other performance enhancing drugs – used simultaneously for any purpose. These kinds of experiments have been, and are still being, done in the bathroom stalls in gyms. And the results can be found all over the Internet.
4) Steroids Are Bad For You. From a common-sense standpoint this is a certainty. Not a lot of true hard data exists on this subject either, but the indications are there. There is legit evidence that exists that shows that even at clinical doses steroids can have some negative side effects. Multiply these clinical doses exponentially, and add other steroids into the pot, and you are cooking up a very dangerous brew indeed.
And again, legit science will not allow studies to be conducted with the purpose of injecting people with steroids to find out at what point they may drop dead or get some form of cancer.
On this count the “People With Dirty Hands” aren’t as nearly as forthcoming as they are with their info with regards to how great steroids are. For this “bad news” you have to lurk around the Internet where you can find all kinds of obituaries of young guys – gym rats, power lifters, body builders, pro wrestlers – who have died from heart or liver problems. And while the “Dirty Handers” have no problems accepting the anecdotal evidence when it comes to how to use and the “positives,” they are in denial when it comes to many of the negative outcomes of their “experiments.”
5) Steroids are Cheating. See above. Using steroids fits the definition of the word “cheating.” Don’t try spouting the garbage that the steroid issue is strictly a matter of people doing what they can do to improve themselves. When jobs and salaries are at stake, or when records are broken, to use the self-improvement rationale is to ignore reality and is intellectually dishonest.
Don’t get distracted by the smoke screen created by many of the player’s sycophants that steroids weren’t specifically banned so therefore, and somehow, players can’t really blamed for using.
This is surely among the worst rubbish ever used for “steroid justification.” Steroids have been illegal for years. Apply this same logical dishonesty to other illegal activities that aren’t expressly banned by pro sports leagues and you’ll see why this form of justification is ludicrous.
And ask the guys who’ve lost jobs, money and/or records to steroid users if they feel cheated. The guys who didn’t win the MVP awards that Ken Caminiti and Jason Giambi did win lost out on – were cheated out of – money, fame and a place in the history books.
If you’ve been paying attention you’ll notice that not one of these baseball players has come out and said that they were just taking advantage of the advances in modern medicine and treatments in order to improve themselves. Quite the contrary, as these cheaters have gone to great length to cover up their actions and have disputed the findings when the cheating was discovered.
6) Forget Education. Have A Zero Tolerance Policy For Those Who Get Caught. Athletes who face a very real possibility of being banned from competition will be much less likely to cheat than those who are just educated with regards to the “dangers” of steroid use. The biggest “danger” associated with steroid use that a player should be concerned with is a lifetime ban from competition if they get caught using. If an athlete is cheating to compete, tell them that they won’t be in a position to compete if they get caught cheating.
The “Anti-Steroid Education Policy” should have two points; 1) Using steroids is cheating and 2) If you get caught using steroids you will be banned from competition. That’s it. There’s no reason to get into the health risks. Look at the effort that has been undertaken to keep people from smoking – people still smoke don’t they?
Understanding these basic six issues will go a long way in the quest for people to better understand the “steroids in sport” issue. Once people start “getting it” we can progress to discussing the deeper and more complicated problems that are involved.
Edit: BMcKPowered by Sidelines