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PEDs: Where Are We Going With This?

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Updated: February 6, 2013
Photo by cthoyes on flickr

Photo by cthoyes on flicker

Leading off a post on PEDs, who better to usher in the topic but the Bash Brothers led by Jose Canseco, the self-described ‘Godfather of Steroids’? With his book “Juiced” Jose provided more to our understanding of the problem than everyone else combined.

While the NFL had been juicing for a good 20 years before the Bash Brothers, nobody noticed because they were, you know, football players. They were supposed to look like cartoon characters. Canseco and McGwire looked cartoonish in a sport where players had looked like regular guys. But pretty soon all the A’s were pumped, little Mike Gallego, even the 1st Base Coach Dave McKay who doubled as ‘strength coach’.

Courtesy of barrybondssteroids.net

Courtesy of barrybondssteroids.net

If we look back to the ’80′s, athletes besides football players began to take notice of the advantages of better strength and conditioning…even tennis players. Martina Navratilova forced Chris Evert to get stronger to stay in the game, and the men players took notice as well. Baseball players who had shunned weights for fear of bulkiness started pumping iron. Hoopsters too. It was only a matter of time before some got curious about the dudes with the needles at their gym.

While we don’t like to dwell on this it’s safe to assume that many of the incredible (and inexplicable) sports feats that we’ve seen over the past 25 years were fueled by PEDs. In fact some stories like Lance Armstrong can only be explained with PEDs. The amazing bulking-up in NFL lineman (most now over 3 bills), NBA frontcourts and MLB middle infielders in a short period can’t be explained by diet and evolution…but PEDs makes sense. Just assume that many have been using.

Nobody wants to think about this, we just want to enjoy our sports. And the leagues provide a fig leaf of testing to help us satisfy our fears. The NFL, MLB, NBA, the NCAA and even High Schools all point to their low rates of failed drug tests as evidence that the testing program is working as a deterrent, so their athletes are clean. As usual the devil is in the details…what they’re NOT testing for and sloppy, non-random testing procedures and such. In fact nobody’s been testing for HGH at all (although MLB is getting to it for the 2013 season).

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

But what does this all mean? We can debate the validity of records set by cheaters…should McGwire and Bonds have asterisks by their HR records, should there be a juiced wing of the HOF? But where is this leading?

I suspect that as this whole subject of PEDs evolves and we have time to reflect we will have a whole new sense of perspective. Let’s keep in mind, we WANT our athletes to be striving for “Performance Enhancement”. Half of America is taking some sort of nasty league-banned substances with testosterone for ED, anti-aging, diet, higher energy or libido or whatever. In 20 years we might think of testosterone pills as part of a balanced diet.

There’s no doubt that the flat-out juicers know what they’re doing is cheating…sneaking around in shadows, using a drug mule, buying HGH and testosterone creams from non-degreed pond scum like Tony Bosch…who gets their legit meds like that? But some of these substances are more subtle, borderline and may actually be proved to be beneficial for mainstream use.

While I don’t endorse the cheating I do believe we’re in a Brave New World of medicine and personal ‘performance enhancement’. We’re at a very creative and experimental point with wholly new substances where the line between what’s considered to be ‘harmful drugs’ and ‘life enhancement substances’ is being blurred. This will make for a VERY messy period in sports…with lots of debate which is always fun…before this gets figured out.

In the meantime, keep an open mind and stay patient my friends.

This post was written by

Dave Graziano – who has written posts on Big Dog Sports Blog.
Short Hills, NJ USA

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