Steroids In Sports Are Here To Stay!
In 1995 a Chicago physician, Bob Goldman, asked 198 Olympic-level U.S. athletes whether they would be willing to take a banned substance if they were guaranteed to win and not get caught and 195 of them said yes. More than half of the athletes went on to say that they would take drugs if it would enable them to win every competition for five years even if it would kill them in the end. As alarming as it may sound, it’s an unspoken truth that exists among the elite athletes of all competitive sports where the stakes are high and million dollar contracts are on the line. A truth that isn’t unknown to officials and sponsors who profit even more than the athletes do when you tune in to see a race or a game. We tend to think of those profiting from sports as being the athletes- the Lance Armstrong’s, the Marion Jones’, the Mark McGuire’s and such, but the truth of the matter is that the real money comes to those behind the athletes- the team owners, the organizations and the companies who sponsor the athletes. Here in the United States the professional football, basketball, hockey and baseball leagues accrue an average of $23 billion dollars a year- (that’s more than twice the GDP of several African countries!) Not only are sports a money-making juggernaut but they are also a key component to the American economy. With almost 3 million sport industry related jobs and significant increases in local revenues due to game and event attendance and concession purchases it’s one of the backbone of what makes America work and thus it should be no surprise that officials, coaches and sponsors not only look the other way when it comes to the use of performance enhancing drugs, but they also encourage it. No one today will pay to see a professional athlete do something that is a bit better than a recreational competitor, we want Titans to entertain us. Athletes with god-like powers and skills that defy anything that the average human could ever hope to attain- but that desire for near superhuman athletes requires them to do things to make them more than human. That being said, notwithstanding the occasional hue and cry about cleaning up drugs in sports when an athlete (at the end of his or her career usually) gets caught is little more than a flimsy façade. A private joke that the public isn’t privy to since steroid use has support from the highest levels downwards.
A glaring example of the indiscriminate use of steroids while everyone looks the other way is in the arena of competitive bodybuilding. Few members of the general public have any idea that there are two completely different types of competitive bodybuilding. Drug tested contests- where athletes are either given a polygraph or urine test (or in some organizations, both) to ensure that the athletes are not using anabolic steroids and or any other banned substances such as human growth hormone, insulin, diuretics or any other banned substances. Most people reading this article probably never saw a natural bodybuilder (besides me!) or even realized that there is a difference. (As an aside: Many see my physique and wonder whether or not I use steroids, but truth be told anyone saw me standing next to a modern professional drug using bodybuilder, there would be no question whatsoever that I was drug free. Since I would look positively anorexic in comparison in spite of 25 years of hard training and my accomplishments as a natural athlete!)
Steroids In Sports: The Public Side Of Steroid Use- Professional Bodybuilding
Yes, there is another other side of the coin, and the more popular version by far are the non drug tested shows. It might surprise you to learn that these are the bodybuilders that grace the covers of the muscle magazines (natural bodybuilding have their own magazines as well, but readership is negligible when compared to the millions of reader of their drug using counterparts). The bodybuilders you occasionally see on television use steroids, as do the ones that cross over to the film industry- a certain formwe California governor included. These images of men and women inflated to near comic book like proportions are what most people think of when they hear the word ‘bodybuilder’. Sadly for women in general, female drug bodybuilding, which essentially will masculinize the bodies of women using steroids has made most women shy away from the idea of lifting weights, as the misconception is there that they will end up looking like some of the girls with masculine features. This isn’t true, but since there is no real movement to define to the general public what a drug user looks like and what a natural athlete looks like, it is hard for them to think any other way.
Now some may say that steroids are harmless when taken in moderate doses over a short period of time, but the fact of the matter is that to attain the size and definition required to stand on a national stage as a competitive male bodybuilder, you will need to use a combination of several different anabolic steroids, in addition to human growth hormone, insulin (yes, that’s right, insulin is major part of the bodybuilder chemistry set) and diuretics. In the good Governor’s time, steroid use was rampant as well, but the doses were lower and even then the amounts that they used to look the way they did would be considered insane by clinical standards. As time went on, more and more athletes tried to push the envelope of inhuman size and definition and so more and more drugs kept being added to the cocktail.
Steroids In Sports- Professional Athlete or Professional Drug User?
Today’s professional bodybuilder can spend anywhere from $30,000 to as much as $100,000 or more to look the way they do. They don’t follow pristine diets and try to live as in as healthy a manner as possible, that is a myth that is used to sell magazines and questionable supplements, the bottom line is getting as big and as fat free as possible. Nothing else matters and to be honest, most of them eat no different from the way the general public does in terms of junk food and the like in the offseason.
Is it glamorous? Yes and no. The fan base, (small though it may be as the male athletes are now far too big to appeal to the tastes of most people in the general public and the female athletes are simply too scary for mainstream media to even look at) does exist and if you are at the very top of the sport you may be able to make some money from endorsements and guest appearances but there is a downside. At those doses, your life is pretty much centered around eating, sleeping and training and there is really no way for you to do the things that most people do. Climbing a flight of stairs at over 300lbs isn’t easy when nature would have had you at 175 lbs and I can tell you from personal experience as one that has worked with many of them, that the experience is pure misery.
From abscesses, to muscle tears, to strange fevers, the pain of the site injections, loss of energy, sex drive and so much more make up the lives of many of the athletes touted by many as the ultimate in human physical perfection. The numerous trips to the E.R. as well aren’t covered in the magazines, only when one of the troupe is unfortunate enough to die as a result of their use- at which point the industry as a whole is first to say that there is no proof that their drug use caused their death. As one that has worked with addicts over the past 14 years the similarities are considerable- but at the end of the day, a professional bodybuilder today is really a professional drug user, and given the inability of so many of them to be able to stop- and the overall behavior, and culture as a whole, I would say professional addict.
Government Policy Towards Steroid In Sports
Now, what does this have to do with sports, as bodybuilding is a fringe activity at best? Simple, if the most blatant use of drugs is not stopped by either the government or the upper echelon of the sport, why would they devote their time to stopping athletes whose use is almost undetectable to the average human eye? Take baseball for example. People pay money to see athletes throw the ball faster and hit the ball harder than they ever could. Mediocrity doesn’t sell, but record breaking performance does. The same applies for everything from boxing to American football to a host of other sports. In many cases, steroids are used in small amounts to help recovery so they can train more often and get better at what they do, or to help injuries heal faster- steroids are fantastic anti-inflammatory drugs. They don’t take drugs to the degree that say the bodybuilder does, nor do they train and consume an inhuman amount of food they way a bodybuilder would, so they don’t ‘jacked up’ as one would say. The crowd loves a winner and if you recall the statement by the Olympians at the top of the post that they would use drugs if they were sure they wouldn’t get caught, what would stop the boxer, baseball player or any other sportsman from thinking the same way?
Add to it the insane amounts of many given to athletes based on their performance and I would go out on a limb and say that over 90% of every sports fan would use drugs if it would make them able to play their game better and allow them to rake in millions of dollars. Wouldn’t you at least consider it? Especially since the amounts that are used in most sports are really not that much and are under the supervision of a physician in most cases? Be honest and you will find that the immorality of steroid use that the media portrays is nothing more than typical human behaviors. The powers that be know that their athletes are using drugs, but they also know that the crowd loves what they do and that they are making them very wealthy- thus there is no real incentive to put real testing in place. When an athlete is past their prime and the government and or media is on their backs they might ‘find’ a positive test or two from some of their athletes that happen to be on their way out of the game anyway- but those tests are almost always several years old. Why the delay? I will let you figure that our yourself.
The Governor Of California Is The Main Sponsor Of The Biggest Steroid Show In The World
Getting back to bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger did a lot to influence so many impressionable young men to get into bodybuilding, and as they went on I the pursuit of looking like him many learned that Arnold had a little help and so got a little help of their own. Arnold Schwarzenegger almost single handedly made the steroid look publicly acceptable. He admitted his use very early on, and yet even during his tenure as the governor of California and the state’s chief law enforcement officer, he still sponsored and lent his name to the one of the biggest convention of non tested and steroid use promoting events in the world, the Arnold Classic. A weekend of bodybuilding and other sports that the good Governor always attended and one that he continues to promote today. In a country where the Chief Officer of a state lends his name and image to a steroid rally, stopping drug use is a far from being a priority. Perhaps more importantly, in a world where athletes make millions, we overlook the small detail that the team owners and sports officials that run and manage the games make billions, and that they are not going to give up their income anytime soon. Most telling is our own attitudes. We are a nation of winners, of great performers and we love our sportsmen to be the best. Add that to the thoughts of a young and upcoming teen athlete and his or her coach and you should understand that the drugs are not going anywhere unless we all change as a people.
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Kevin Richardson is an award winning health and fitness writer, creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training and one of the most sought after personal trainers in New York City. Winner of the 2013 and 2012 Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training. Click here to learn more about our personal training services.