02-09-2003, 11:57 AM #1
from the trainer of the detroit red wings
Steroids : Playing Russian roulette with your body
By John Wharton / Special to Detroit News Online
John Wharton, former athletic trainer of the Detroit Red Wings, is co-owner of The Training Room Athletic Therapy and Fitness Centers in Troy and Trenton.
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I have always said, "There is no substitute for hard work." Well guess what? I lied. There are steroids. Sure, to be effective steroids have to be accompanied by a strict and vigorous resistance program such as weight lifting, but you'll never get the results that steroids will give you by training alone.
Used properly, and in conjunction with a serious training program, steroids can and will give you more strength, speed, power muscle mass and definition. And do you know the real kicker? They probably are not as dangerous as most people have led you to believe.
Scientists now are saying that doses of less than 300 milligrams per week will probably have little or no adverse effect on your liver or heart as previously believed.
Does it sound like I am a proponent of steroid use ? I am definitely not. I deplore their use by everyone from professional athletes down to high school kids.
Do I condone their use? Absolutely not. But does that change the fact that steroids have been and are currently being used in professional sports, college and high school athletics and by Joe Teenager who just wants to look better? Not at all.
I think it is time we all acknowledge steroid use and stop looking the other way and stop bad mouthing them as the "killers" that they simply haven't been proven to be.
Sure, when abused or used for too long they will lead to potentially life threatening health conditions, but the people that are using them are smarter than we have given them credit for.
They know which drugs to take and how long to "cycle" in order to diminish the health risks. And for every steroid, there are probably 10 other drugs that can hide their use or detection.
Our scare tactics of health concerns and appearance problems are falling on deaf ears.
Don't get me wrong. There are definitely risks and dangers of using anabolic steroids. They range from feminization of males and the masculization of females, to premature balding, acne, to mood swings and aggressive behavior.
Worse yet, they can impair liver function and lead to an enlarged heart and other cardiac problems. They decrease sperm production can cause a stroke and lead to early cessation in bone growth in teenagers. Steroid use can make you prone to heat illness.
Individually, you may never know the long term ramifications of using steroids for years and perhaps after it is too late to reverse their damage.
In my opinion, if you are using steroids in any way, shape or form you are playing a kind of Russian Roulette with your insides. It may never affect you at all, and then again it might just kill you.
So why do kids and athletes use steroids ?
From an athletic standpoint it is obvious. To gain an edge. To get a little bigger, stronger or faster to get the college scholarship or make the professional team or hit the home runs that increases the bonus money in their already large contracts.
For teenage boys? For the same reason teenage girls are getting breast implants. Simply to look better. To alter a depressed self esteem and get noticed more. It is a reflection on our society and the importance that is placed on appearance.
Is that such a bad thing? I haven't made up my mind yet on this one. Aren't kids with higher self esteem better students and more well adjusted in society?
Call me crazy here and speaking only hypothetically, but if a young kid can focus more on his college education or give more time to charity or be a better big brother or sister simply because he feels better about himself, is it really such a bad thing?
Again, I don't want to sound like I support the idea of kids using steroids; I just can understand why they are doing it.
And I certainly do not want to imply that all steroid users are model citizens.
I get asked all the time, what does a steroid user look like? Do you see kids with zitty backs and enlarged male breasts? It must be obvious to detect isn't it? Yes and no. Because what I have seen is startling but not gross. What I have seen is kids getting bigger and stronger and looking physically better in almost no time at all.
I remember seeing a high school football player last year working out at my fitness facility. He worked extremely hard and had potential to get a college scholarship if he could get a little bigger. I saw him in June and he was about 6'3" and 190 lbs. I saw him again in September and amazingly, he had to have been 225-230 lbs. I couldn't believe the difference. I said "What's up with that?" and he said "What"? and I said "What's up with the how big you've gotten, are you on The Juice?" And he said "Dude, no way. I wouldn't touch the stuff." And I shook my head, walked away and said "Whatever, dude." That's all I could say. I know he used steroids but I couldn't prove it and it is his choice to make anyway. I guess I could have taken him aside and tried to reason with him and tell him all the reasons that he shouldn't take steroids. He's probably heard that a million times and he likes the way he feels and looks and nothing I say is going to change that.
I have probably worked with a few hockey players over my 12 years with the Red Wings that have used steroids and not even known it. How could I? There is no testing in the NHL for steroid use.
Do I think that NHL players are using steroids? Yes, but not very many of them.
It is a sport that more than any other sport is tightly policed by its own players. They know if someone is using steroids and would have no problem exposing them. They want to keep their playing surface level. They want to play hard and fair.
And therein lies my major problem with athletes using steroids. It is cheating. Plain and simple. An athlete that uses steroids to get bigger, stronger and faster is creating an unfair advantage for himself over non-users. How are they risking the health of others? They are bigger, stronger and much more aggressive on steroids. They cause greater collisions that could potentially injure a player who works just as hard but is a bit physically smaller because he trains and plays by the rules.
Baseball players and fans are calling for testing. Will it do any good? I already said that steroid users know exactly how to keep their dirty little secret to themselves. What else can we do? I don't know, but the cheaters are ruining the game.
Injuries are skyrocketing. Non-users are tired of being lumped in with the cheaters by having their hard work and training excused as drug induced. I don't blame them. Why should the honest, hard working athletes get labeled a cheater when they know that they are not.? But how can we tell the difference any more? I wish I knew.
You see, steroids have created more questions than we have answers for. Who is using them and why? Are they effective? Should they be banned? Should we test kids and pro athletes for them? Is the testing even worth it?
As a professional sports trainer, I feel like I should have more answers, alternatives and advice on this topic. Sadly, it is the one thing in the health and fitness world that gives it a bit of a black eye.
I wish I had more solutions to this potentially dangerous and unethical practice. I do not. I can only hope those teens, athletes, and anyone else using these drugs will consider alternatives. Good old fashioned hard work and dedication to your sport. There are also safe alternatives in the form of nutritional supplements that I will write about next week. I can also hope that parents and administrators take a more active role in helping to identify and work with this problem. Know what your kids are doing and the potential dangers of their deeds.
Former baseball pro Jose Canseco recently exposed himself about his long term steroid use in baseball, tainting what would have been a wonderful career. Why did he do this? Because he would have been exposed eventually anyway. And why? Because when all is said and done, you can bet on this. Winners never cheat and cheaters never win.
02-09-2003, 12:08 PM #2
02-09-2003, 12:44 PM #3
an interesting article...great read! bumppppp
02-09-2003, 12:59 PM #4G-S Guest
What a crock of shit. He says hockey is tight, and policed by it's own, so therefor he doesn't believe many NHLer's are on steriods .
What a bunch of bullshit. He's a fuckin liar.
If it was so tight, and policed by it's own, there wouldn't be any rec drugs in the sport; yet there is.
02-09-2003, 02:00 PM #5
I have to agree with GS on this one. He lost all credibility with me when he tried to make it sound like his sport wasn't just as involved with steroids as every other sport. He did exactly what he is trying to condemn in that article.
02-09-2003, 04:06 PM #6G-S Guest
Also, John Wharton is from my original home town. I knew of him long before he was a so-called training expert. He's always been full of shit.
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