04-14-2004, 07:17 PM #1
Steroid Use Out of Baseball's Closet -Article
Cool read, from the palmbeachpost.com
"Steroid Use Out of Baseball's Closet
WEDNESDAY, May 29 (HealthScoutNews) -- Time was when the biggest advantage baseball players could get was to cork their bats. Now, it seems, they're corking themselves instead.
In the latest link between steroids and pro baseball, former star Ken Caminiti told Sports Illustrated that not only are at least half of major leaguers using the hormones, but he also was using them when he won the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1996. That year, Caminiti smacked 40 home runs, well more than his previous high of 26 the year before. After winning the MVP, Caminiti never hit more than 29 homers in the injury-riddled late innings of his career.
Despite Caminiti's achievement in 1996, experts warn young people against taking steroids to boost performance. The substance is illegal unless a doctor prescribes it to treat medical problems, and the young athletes may pay dearly for it later.
"It's no secret what's going on in baseball," the magazine quotes Caminiti as saying. "At least half the guys are using [steroids]. They talk about it. They joke about it with each other. I don't want to hurt fellow teammates or fellow friends. But I've got nothing to hide."
Caminiti, who has also had a highly public cocaine habit, said he began injecting steroids because his body "was broke down" after years of playing, not to make him a better athlete. The shots gave him a "mental edge," he said.
The confession comes on the heels of allegations by retired star Jose Canseco that 85 percent of major leaguers take physique-enhancing hormones. Some say steroids may help explain an astonishing boom in home runs in recent years.
Although steroids have been banned by other professional and amateur sports entities, including the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the International Olympic Committee, baseball officials haven't forbidden players from using the drugs.
League commissioner Bud Selig told the Associated Press he was "very worried" about the steroid use by players. "No one denies that this is a problem. It's a problem we can and must deal with now."
Pat Courtney, a league spokesman, said baseball officials have proposed a testing plan that is now being considered by the players' union in collective bargaining. Courtney said he didn't have the details of the proposal, such as what penalties it might impose on players who fail a steroid test.
Greg Bouris, a spokesman for the Major League Baseball Players Association, said the group had not prepared a statement on the latest steroid flap.
Anabolic steroids push the body's production of the male sex hormone testosterone , building muscle mass and strength. However, they carry a steep cost in side effects, which include testicular anomalies, liver function problems, and an elevated red blood cell count that can promote clotting. And because they build muscle while leaving tendons and ligaments unchanged, users often suffer tears, strains and other injuries.
Dr. Joel Finkelstein, a Harvard University hormone expert, said steroids can be especially troublesome for women, in whom they can trigger masculinizing effects, and children, in whom they can stunt growth.
However, while high doses of testosterone do appear to blow up muscles, there's a "striking lack" of evidence about their effects, including whether they can turn a utility player into a power hitter. "Very large doses of testosterone can build muscle size and strength, but performance is a lot more complicated," he said. There's no evidence that taking steroids will improve speed, agility, flexibility and other important athletic traits.
Whatever the case, professional baseball players appear to believe that using muscle aids like testosterone and growth hormone will turn their swings into swats.
Mark McGwire, who last year lost the single-season home run record to Barry Bonds, admitted using an over-the-counter steroid precursor to help his weightlifting sessions. McGwire, who is now retired, said he stopped using the substance, androstenedione, or andro, because he was concerned about the message it sent to his young fans.
Bonds, who broke the record with 73 homers last year (his previous season high was 49, set the year before), has denied using steroids. But in an interview with the Associated Press, the San Francisco Giants slugger said the decision to take them should be up to players alone.
"What players take doesn't matter. It's nobody else's business," Bonds said. "The doctors should spend their time looking for cures for cancer. It takes more than muscles to hit homers. If all those guys were using stuff, how come they're not all hitting homers?''
In the Sports Illustrated article, Caminiti defended steroid use as necessary in modern pro baseball. "Look at all the money in the game," Caminiti said. "A kid got $252 million. So I can't say, 'Don't do it,' not when the guy next to you is as big as a house and he's going to take your job and make the money."
Copyright © 2004, The Palm Beach Post. All rights reserved.
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04-14-2004, 11:08 PM #2VET
Originally Posted by D00fy
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04-14-2004, 11:11 PM #3
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