If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last couple of months following the news on steroids in sports with the hope that some truth – any truth – would emerge from the midst of the media hype and sensationalism.
While the issue of steroids in sport has been brewing since the early 1980’s, and while the Congressional Hearings in 1987 on Medical Devices and Drug Issues on April 8 and May 4, 1987 sought to address the issue of drugs in sport, nothing of substance followed from these hearings and steroids are today as much a part of organized sports as they’ve always been.
The Current Scandals . . .
The current sensationalism on steroids in sport began with two major events:
1. The publication of Jose Canseco’s book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big.”
2. The now infamous BALCO scandal.
In his book, Mr. Canseco names several high-profile players that he claims to have injected with anabolic steroids. Some of these players include superstars like Mark McGwire, Ivan Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro.
As a result of his book, Congress again held hearings on the role of performance enhancing drugs in sport. During these hearings, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro testified under oath on the role of steroids in sports. While Mark McGwire dodged the question of whether he used anabolic steroid by stating “I’m not here to discuss the past…I’m a retired player”, Sammy Sosa [through an interpreter] and Rafael Palmeiro strongly denied ever having used anabolic steroids.
While the other players present also denied using steroids, Mr. Palmeiro issued a strong denial when he remarked: “I have never used steroids. Period. I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never. The reference to me in Mr. Canseco’s book is absolutely false. I am against the use of steroids.” As the Congressional Hearings were proceeding, the BALCO case was slowly working its’ way through the legal system.
BALCO (Bay Area Lab Co-Operative) was a company run by Victor Conte, and it was responsible for supplying “dietary supplements” to high profile athletes like baseball superstars Barry Bonds and Jason Giambii, and Olympic athletes Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Chryste Gaines and Michelle Collins.
Since the completion of the BALCO investigation and the start of the legal prosecution of Victor Conte, it’s been revealed that many of the “dietary supplements” given to athletes under the names of legitimate dietary supplements were really banned anabolic compounds.
These banned drugs included:
- Human Growth Hormone
While BALCO did supply athletes with legitimate dietary supplements like Vitamins E, B-12, Iron, Ferulic acid, ZMA and Tyrosine, the above list of banned substances are powerful and potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drugs that in no way resemble safe and effective over-the-counter dietary supplements.
Subsequent to the current Congressional hearings on the role of drugs in sport, several high-profile baseball athletes have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.
New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambii is among these athletes, and he admitted in leaked Grand Jury testimony to having knowingly used anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormone for at least three seasons. Shockingly, one other man tested positive for anabolic steroid use – the man who issued the strongest denial and condemnation of anabolic steroids: baseball superstar Rafael Palmeiro.
Like the many athletes before him who have tested positive for banned performance enhancing drugs, Mr. Palmeiro denies knowing how the drugs entered his body. Instead, he’s made the standard claim that’s been made by countless others who have been busted for banned drug use: he claims that he was the victim of contaminated dietary supplements.
It’s been said that “The great masses of the people… will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one” and “…nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive.” Commenting on this, Mark Twain commented:
“…people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”