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The Healthy Skeptic: Steroids Will Never Be Permitted In Legitimate Sports

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As the Barry Bonds story drags on more people are weighing in on the subject of the use of performance-enhancing drugs known as steroids. There are way too many people who don’t understand this issue, but this lack of knowledge hasn’t resulted in a corresponding lack of opinions on the subject.

People need to realize that the use of steroids will never be permitted in legitimate sports.

Athletes — and others — will continue to use them on they sly, and in the future competitions may be organized that permit the use of these drugs, but Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL, boxing, international sports organizations, and any other sport or independent minor league organizations will never permit the use of steroids.

Liability for the health problems and injuries that will come about as a result of the use of steroids is the simplest and most obvious reason that these organizations will never allow the use of these drugs.

The current state of research on the subject of steroids and health problems can be considered a work in progress. There have been studies that indicate that there are very real, serious, and dangerous side-effects that can come about from the use of these drugs. And like it or not, there are anecdotal findings that reveal there are a great many problems associated with the use of steroids as well.

Anecdotal evidence usually has no place when it comes to matters of science and research results. However, with regards to steroid use, anecdotal evidence cannot be ignored, for this evidence is some of the best that exists on this subject.

Legitimate studies have been conducted in which individual steroids, administered in clinical dosages over a short period of time, have shown possible negative side-effects.

In the real world steroids are not used one-at-a-time, in clinical doses over a short period of time. The reality is that several kinds of steroids are used at one time — “stacked” as they say — in dosages and for durations that far exceed what could be considered responsible. There is no way that legitimate science will ever be able to conduct valid experiments on this family of drugs under these irresponsible and dangerous conditions.

There are volumes of anecdotal evidence that tell us about the damage that steroids can do. From local and big-time body-builders and power-lifters to known and unknown professional wrestlers, illness and death have shown their faces time and time again. Young men — supposedly fit — have fallen to heart attacks and other suspicious causes for decades.

The lack of real science on the subject, combined with the fact that steroids mess with the body’s very delicate endocrine system and that there’s plenty of scary anecdotal evidence, guarantee that the various sports organizations will never allow themselves to be vulnerable to the potential health-related lawsuits that would result from permitting the use of steroids.

And if at some point in the future, science is able to more clearly determine that there are real dangers associated with the use of steroids – after these organizations had sanctioned their use – there wouldn’t be enough insurance in the world to cover all of the claims that would need to be paid out. As a matter of fact, on the day steroids are legalized I would enroll in law school — along with my three sons — in anticipation of the future need for lawyers well versed in the matters of steroids and steroid-related liability.

The next generation of performance-enhancing drugs and therapies may be part of an athlete’s preparation, but the liability risk of allowing steroid use is too great of a risk for any sport to take.

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About Sal Marinello

  • I recall a skit on SNL that originally appeared several years ago. It satirized what an “all-drug Olympics” would look like.

    Some muscle-bound fool attempted to deadlift some insane amount of weight, like 3,000 pounds or something. He got it up, but then his arms were literally torn out of their sockets and blood spurted all over the mat.

    While meant to be hyperbolic, there is a grain of truth to be found in that skit. As I understand it, steroids can certainly help a highly-motivated weightlifter build up muscle mass and increase his/her strength much faster than usual. However, the ligaments and tendons are not effected by the drugs.

    Therefore, a steroid-user may wind up being able to bench-press 450 pounds with relative ease, but one day his tendons/ligaments will snap under all the weight, and…well, the result ain’t pretty…

    Back me up Sal, if I’m speaking the truth here…

  • sal m

    you are correct sir…connective tissues are not strengthened by “the juice,” while muscle mass is being built…so what happens is the muscles generate too much force for the connective tissues to handle, which is why you have young guys that have the knees of 70 year olds…remember how all of sudden mcgwire’s knees were shot? this shouldn’t have happened to a guy who played first base his whole life and not offensive tackle. same thing with giambi.

    what happens to the body is similar to what would happen if you put a mack truck engine into a vw beetle without beefing up the frame, suspension and tires…something’s gonna blow…

    and this is just one of the problems that steroids use can create.

  • Matt Chaney

    Intriguing commentary, declaring sport federations will never acknowledge widespread muscle doping because of legal liability–except that might be the very reason to force them to do so. The enormous, aging cultural denial currently sustaining this problem, steroids’ and other enhancers’impact on sport as billion-dollar entertainment, cannot go on forever. This must be a legal trainwreck to happen, sooner than later, once courts civil and criminal–and lawyers–sink their teeth. Amazing on one hand, in fact, is the problem is 40 years old in sport such as Olympic Games and pro football. No, federations likely will have to acknowledge the truth, and sooner than later, for they cannot control doping and should not pretend to do so. Weight limits and other restrictions reducing substance use to “soft doping,” at worst, along with full public disclosure, allowing physician monitoring and thereby putting the onus squarely on athletes who choose to take risks, likely respresent the only “solution” for the problem. Doping in sport, at the extreme boundaries we have come to, clearly will not remain legally benign for organizers.

  • sal m

    good stuff…

    there’s always the possibility that the next generation of performance enhancing drugs may be less dangerous, but even if this is so human nature is such that people will find a way to misuse and abuse them…and nothing of this nature can be consequence free…so the problem will continue, but may just take a different shape.

  • Matt Chaney

    Right on, Sal. Glad to see you addressing the issue. I’ll be reading…

  • Jim

    “The use of steroids will never be permitted in legitimate sports.” – exactly, and therefore MLB is no longer legitimate, as they have allowed this farce to go on for years.

    Therefore, I will no longer support MLB in anyway: