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Interesting Steriod Article


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Posted on Wed, Mar. 03, 2004




Perspective not needed for witch hunt




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This is how it is with the hysteria of witch hunts. The volume on the let's-get-'em bloodlust gets so loud it drowns out quieter things, like perspective. Medical studies? Logic? Proof? Oh, we'll get to that later, after the screaming. Or not.


There's an awful lot of ignorance being spewed about steroids these days. Sportswriters have become scientists and psychics, able to divine whether Barry Bonds cheats by looking at his biceps. We're not qualified for this, obviously, but what difference does that make? Admin Walker came to camp skinnier! Let's get him! Todd Helton came into camp heavier! Let's get him! (Angrily shake your pitchfork and torch here.)


Nobody wants to hear this, but steroids aren't necessarily bad for you, OK? Can we clear that up now amid the screaming, please, before the next-sportswriter-turned-medicalexpert-because-he-stole-the-towels-at-aHoliday-Inn-Express tries to convince you that it's the equivalent of injecting evil into your bloodstream?


Steroids, under supervision, used correctly (which, presumably, is how most athletes who aren't professional wrestlers use them), are medicinal. They're helpful in healing, strengthening muscle fibers torn apart on purpose during weight-lifting.


It isn't steroids that are the problem. It's steroid abuse that is the problem. A glass of wine a day is good for you; a gallon a day isn't. But even the athletes who are cheating are going to the finest steroid cellars, using the vintage stuff in moderation under the supervision of the world's foremost aficionados. This isn't dirty-needles-and-black-markethorse-hormones-injected-in-the-dugoutbathroom usage. It's more likely human growth hormone you can buy legally in pill or powder form on the Internet. But everyone is too busy screaming to notice the difference.


I'm not advocating the use of steroids, just explaining that if you are going to worry about anything, it should be the health of baseball's numbers and integrity, not the health of its players. Even weight lifters who use steroids irresponsibly, injecting them into their foreheads by the two-liter bottle, look at you funny when you warn them of the dangers, asking, ``Where are all the dead people?''




Lyle Alzado -- that's the biggest name on the exceptionally short list in major American sports. Only one problem with that, though. There are a lot of questions about how Alzado died, and whether the macho-man-movie-actor in him wanted to put testosterone-soaked punctuation on his life by attributing it to gluttonous abuse of Dianabol.


The only ''proof'' we have that steroids killed Alzado is that he blamed them as he got sicker, thus becoming the weathered face of the issue. Never mind that autopsy reports show he died of brain cancer. Or that steroids are used to treat that, not cause it.


Do steroids have side effects? Sure. But so do anti-depressants prescribed by therapists, diet pills on TV commercials and other scientific advancements America uses to heal and improve itself.


I don't know whether Bonds, Gary Sheffield or Jason Giambi is using steroids. And I certainly don't know how steroids help you hit a baseball (if they were a magic bean, wouldn't baseball be populated by Mr. Universe contestants?). I do know it isn't terribly fair these players are getting smeared by name as cheaters without due process even though this BALCO investigation includes far more athletes than just baseball's.


Baseball has the worst public-relations problem in sports, which doesn't help. Why does everyone question how Bonds and Sammy Sosa went from stick figures to linebackers at an advanced age, but nobody wonders about, say, Michael Jordan? Jordan's body made the same evolution from thin to thick. And the NBA's steroid testing isn't any better than baseball's.




Bonds eats six 350-calorie, specially-prepared meals a day and works out like an insane person. It is possible to grow the way he did naturally in the age of advanced training methods, legal supplements and personalized trainers and chefs, even though our cynicism won't allow it. Or is Jordan the only one allowed to grow that way?


Athletes go to ridiculously extreme measures to keep their bodies right. Karl Malone has a helicopter fly him up mountains to train in altitude. Jamal Mashburn pays someone six figures to travel with him and stretch him. Bill Romanowski carries a briefcase full of pills, drinks only water he ionizes himself and sends his feces to a lab monthly to make sure his levels are OK.


In this climate, it makes sense the path to an edge, any edge, would go through the pharmacy, especially if you can find improvement in pill form, and not even our government can figure out what isn't good for us.




Ephedra was perfectly legal up until it allegedly started killing athletes. The androstenedione Mark McGwire introduced us to could be bought at any vitamin store before suddenly being banned. There are pills and powders of human growth hormone athletes use to produce steroid-like results, and you can't blame them when those things remain legal.


Brady Anderson admits he was using creatine -- which is legal and is something you cycle on and off, just like steroids -- when he hit more home runs in a season than Hank Aaron ever did.


No matter what today's hysteria suggests, that didn't make Anderson dumb, bad or a cheat.


What it made him was better.




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