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Shocking! There’s a Potential Steroid Scandal Brewing in the NFL!

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Ok, I’m going to be very blunt. Anyone who is surprised that there is a potential NFL steroid scandal brewing is stupid. I’m sorry…maybe I should soften that statement a bit.

Here’s a softer version: Anyone who is surprised that there is a potential NFL steroid scandal brewing has had their head in the sand and is truly not aware of the brutal nature of football, and why NFL’ers would enthusiastically use steroids.

Bear with me for a minute as I take a little detour in order to provide y’all with some background info.

Dr. James Shortt, an alternative practitioner from South Carolina, is under criminal investigation by the Feds for his role in the deaths of two of his patients to whom he gave hydrogen peroxide infusions. There is some belief that hydrogen peroxide can provide relief from – or cure – diseases like cancer and Multiple Sclerosis.

However, most legit evidence indicates that such treatment is quackery.

For these folks who died, hydrogen peroxide apparently isn’t the panacea it’s advertised to be. As a matter of fact, the coroner who examined Katherine Bibeau in May of 2004, one of the unfortunate victims of Dr. Shortt’s therapy, said that she died from internal bleeding due to multiple organ failure.

Mrs. Bibeau’s family has filed a federal suit against Dr. Shortt claiming that the good doctor ignored Mrs. Bibeau’s complaints following the infusions and failed to act on the clear signs that Mrs. Bibeau was in “acute hemolytic crisis.”

In July of 2004, another of Dr. Shortt’s patients, Michael Bate, who suffered from prostrate cancer, died. In September of 2004 the Feds stepped in and confiscated Dr. Shortt’s files, and from this confiscation it was learned that Dr. Shortt had prescribed steroids to several Carolina Panther football players.

So here we are in March of 2005, and it seems as if several Carolina Panthers have taken advantage of Dr. Shortt’s easy prescription writing hand. And quite frankly, quackery aside, Dr. Shortt makes some very good points when he defends himself from the charges that he engaged in improper activity when he prescribed steroids for football players.

Dr. Shortt says that he only prescribes steroids for legitimate medical reasons. Here’s a great quote from the good doctor, and pay attention because this is all that you need to know about steroids:

“Do I consider healing and repair, and regeneration and recovery, and working at optimal function, a legitimate medical function? Yes.”

In this one passage Dr. Shortt has provided the definitive reason every athlete in the world finds steroids attractive. Forget about the increase in muscle mass and how much harder that you can train while taking steroids. Forget the silly arguments put forth by Barry Bonds and other athletes that try to make the point that they don’t use steroids because drugs can’t help a person hit a ball better.

Athletes – especially older athletes – use steroids and other like drugs because they aid in the healing, repair, regeneration, and recovery processes that in turn allow an athlete to perform consistently better. So when Bonds says that steroids won’t make him a better hitter, he’s playing word games. What goes unsaid, because it goes unasked, is that steroids allow people to do things day after day without wearing down – both training and competing – that guys his age cannot normally do.

In a brutal sport like football where, for the most part, contracts don’t give players large amounts of guaranteed money, nothing could be more important to a player than an enhanced repair and recovery mechanism. If a guy can’t get out on the field, there are two or three other guys ready to take his place. If you can’t play regularly, you’re out of a job.

Here’s where another bit of faulty logic needs to be addressed. I’ve heard everyone from “the-man (or woman) on-the-street” to big-shot sports pundits say, “Well, why would these guys take the risks involved with putting these drugs into their systems? No one really knows what can happen from taking this stuff.” Hello?!? Has anyone ever watched a football game?

On every play football players run the risk of severe, life-threatening injuries, and even Death. Yes, that’s DEATH with a capital “D.” Watch a kick-off in the NFL where every player, from the kicker on down, literally takes their life into his hands just by being on the field. Starters and other players who see significant playing time really are risking their lives forty or so times every game and hundreds of other times per week in practice.

So the immediacy of the risks that these guys face every week takes priority over some undefined and sketchy potential risk that may happen at some indeterminate time in the distant future.

Not to mention that many guys engage in other behaviors – using recreational drugs and booze – during their careers that are detrimental to their performance on the field. Is it hard to believe that a guy would try a drug that could help on the field when we already know for a fact that guys have done drugs that will not help on the field?

Keep this in mind as the drug scandals continue to crop up in the different sports over the next few years. Think about all of the reasons hockey players, basketball players, boxers, and other athletes might have for taking steroids and the other performance enhancing drugs, and you will not be surprised when other drug stories hit the wires.

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About Sal Marinello