Thursday, July 5, 2007

Steroids Can't Help You Hit a Baseball--and Other Nonsense

Some of the things that have been said about steroid usage are really asinine. Here are some myths followed by rebuttals:

1) Taking steroids won't make you stronger; only hard work in the weight room does that.

Duh! Steroids and other performance enhancers enable athletes to work out longer and more intensely without getting fatigued and compound the effects of their lifting regimens. An athlete who is not on steroids cannot work out as long or as effectively as one who is; that is why they are called "performance enhancers," not "miracle grow."

2) Steroids don't improve the hand/eye coordination that it takes to hit major league pitching.

No one is suggesting that non-athletic people have taken steroids and become record-breaking baseball players. What has clearly happened in the past decade or so is that a number of people who already possessed the natural hand/eye coordination necessary to hit major league pitching have dramatically increased their ability to hit baseballs out of the ball park. Yes, Barry Bonds could always hit, as could Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and the rest--but they all enjoyed suspicious power surges right around the same general time. Why do I lump those guys in with Barry "Balco" Bonds? Canseco, Caminiti and Giambi eventually admitted to using steroids, Palmeiro failed a blood test (after defiantly wagging his finger at members of Congress and talking about how clean he is), McGwire disgraced himself in front of Congress (why show up if you have no intention of saying anything meaningful?) and when Sosa appeared before Congress he claimed to not speak English well, which is just as bad as McGwire choosing to not speak at all. Yes, Bonds and Sosa are playing well this year but there is no reliable test for human growth hormone (and who knows what else), so forgive me if I am a bit skeptical of what we're seeing, based on baseball's track record. The drug users and their lab coat wearing accomplices always seem to be one step ahead of the drug testers--but maybe the tide will turn soon in that regard; the house of cards seems to finally be crashing in on cycling a decade late, not that anyone in America will notice or care unless someone turns up a smoking gun (or syringe) regarding Lance Armstrong. Armstrong is a marvelous athlete and an inspiring cancer survivor but it is becoming increasingly hard to believe that the one guy who dominated the Tour de France year after year was the only clean athlete in perhaps the dirtiest sport in the world. I've derived a lot of enjoyment from watching Bonds play baseball and watching (or at least seeing highlights of) Armstrong storm past his rivals but at this point you have to be blind, deaf and dumb to not have strong suspicions about how clean either of them were at the height of their powers.

3) Steroids were not against baseball's rules in the 1990s.

The possession and use of steroids without a prescription is against the law. Anyone--from a high school athlete to a baseball MVP--who uses steroids for other than prescribed medical purposes is breaking the law.

4) Steroids should not be illegal or against the rules; everyone should have access to them and then no one would have a competitive advantage.

Steroids, human growth hormone and other substances that are being used as performance enhancers were not designed for that purpose nor are they safe or healthy when used in that manner; they were developed to help people recover more quickly from injuries or to make up for hormonal deficits caused by disease or other reasons. Long term usage of these substances causes numerous serious side effects; therefore, using these drugs is not in the best interest of the athletes and it is especially not in the best interest of all the youngsters who idolize famous athletes and are inclined to imitate everything that they do.

No comments: