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Friday, September 22, 2023


Rail against steroid-injecting athletes

The sports world has received blemishes in the last few weeks with rulings on and an athlete’s admission of using performance-enhancing drugs.

This past week saw the admission of Olympic medal winning track star Marion Jones’ admission to using steroids. Jones faces prison time for lying to federal agents during the course of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative lab investigation (BALCO has been named as the provider of steroids to several professional baseball players in the past).

Cyclist and for-the-moment 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis was found by an arbitration panel last month to have had synthetic testosterone in his system following his miraculous Stage 17 win of the Tour last year. Next week, according to the Houston Chronicle, Tour organizers are set to award the maillot jaune – the race winner’s yellow jersey – to the second place finisher of the 2006 race, Spaniard Oscar Pereiro. After Pereiro is named the winner, Landis will become the sole cyclist in the 105 year-old Tour to be stripped of his title for using performance enhancing substances.

Jones’ disgrace and Landis’ title loss should serve as cautionary tales to all athletes who are tempted to improve their performance on the field by utilizing steroids or other substances banned by sports leagues around the world. The message is clear: Pump yourself full of drugs to make yourself bigger, faster and stronger, and you will be hounded out of the sport. The meaning cannot be any clearer than this.

Yet, everyday there are those who hide out in locker rooms injecting themselves with steroids or popping a pill or two here and there just to give themselves an unfair – and illegal – edge in the world of competitive sports.

The blame for such egregious lack of respect for sportsmanship and one’s body can be spread over a wide net of characters: team owners who shell out millions of dollars for the slugger who can hit 50 home runs a year or for the quarterback who can both throw and run for touchdowns; the trainers who want to help the guy who works out in the gym endlessly or sprints up stadium stairs and cannot get any faster; fans who cheer someone who wins a gold medal but boo the same runner when she finishes seventh; and the athletes themselves who cannot understand that the human body can be trained to a peak and to want to climb higher than this apex means to turn to a syringe or pills.

There are countless medical reasons not to use performance-enhancing drugs. There are numerous athletes who have fallen ill or died because of their steroid use (though there is no link between steroids and brain lymphoma, famed football player Lyle Alzado attributed his cancer, which eventually took his life at age 43, to his $30,000 a year steroid use during the course of his 16 year career in NFL) yet every few months sees another sports star being linked or admitting to using performance enhancing drugs.

Too much emphasis is placed on the here and now. Athletes only see the big dollars rolling in each week from their contracts/endorsements and not the future when their playing days are over. Yes, touchdowns mean more cars and homeruns equal bigger houses, but one’s health should be at the forefront in achieving both records and bigger bank accounts. What good is having all the money in the world if it is spent diagnosing the plethora of ailments from sexual dysfunction to cancer two, three or ten years after one retires from sports?

Not to mention the blow to one’s character – and future earnings from appearances and signings – when one has to tearfully apologize for willingly ingesting a substance for the purposes of being faster and stronger than the person alongside in a race. Such a display is an insult to the sports world and the fans who cheer for those competitors who had an unfair edge seething within them.

Athletes can protest, deny, appeal and parade around the streets attesting to their innocence when accused of using banned substances. In the end, the loudest refuters are often the biggest dopers. One does not have to hate or spit on these dishonorable few who tarnish the sheen of the rest; one need only look away and these former stars will become a faded memory and fall into oblivion -†a place they rightly deserve for having deceived so many.

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