Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Rampant Anabolic Steroid Abuse

When the details of pro wrestler Chris Benoit's anabolic steroid "prescriptions" came out recently, it only confirmed what I have assumed to be true of most of these pro wrestlers (and perhaps some other athletes) that have bodies that appear to defy the laws of nature. I just read this CNN Article about Benoit's excessive steroid purchases, and some of the excess (like there is a "normal" level of anabolic steroid use?) mentioned include:
  • "Dr. Phil Astin prescribed a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids to Chris Benoit every three to four weeks between May 2006 and May 2007, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent said in an affidavit filed Friday and made public Monday."
  • "The [Benoit] boy had old needle marks in his arms, Ballard has said. He said he had been told the parents considered him undersized and had given him growth hormones."
  • "[Benoit's doctor] Astin had written prescriptions for about 1 million doses of controlled substances over the past two years, including "significant quantities" of injectable testosterone cypionate, an anabolic steroid, according to the criminal complaint."
Gee, do you really think Benoit is the only professional wrestler or athlete that has a friend that happens to be a doctor willing to write "prescriptions" for anabolic steroids? I think not. It'll be interesting to see who else shares Benoit's doctor as a friend who is willing to help them get huge! I can guarantee that the bulk of these super-size (nearly freakish-size) ultra-muscular people have at one time or another abused steroids.

I have always been into weight-lifting, especially during my college years and the following 10 years or more. In all that time, I constantly pushed more and more weight, and gained substantial strength, but, the one thing I never gained much of was size. Sure, I can get toned and muscular, but nothing like these guys whose muscles look like balloons. No matter how much I lifted, I just could not put on much more than 10 or 20 pounds of muscle over my body's normal non-workout size. And, all of the weight-lifting I ever did was done "clean" - meaning, without any chemical / steroidal enhancement.

I am sure some people have a physical predisposition to being able to amass extra muscle better than others, but not to the extent of these pro wrestlers and such. During my college years, quite a few of the guys in the weight room who were physically substantially larger than me were abusing steroids. I have known friends and acquaintances that made incredible physical-mass gains using anabolic steroids, and who most likely never would have put on such size without them. Some of these people even tried to encourage me to join them in their steroid use - but, fortunately, my common sense prevailed and I avoided the temptation for fast gains completely.

Because of my exposure to people that were using anabolic steroids, as well as my exposure to others who lifted and body-built "clean", I find it quite easy to look at people and within moments determine with reasonable certainty whether or not they are, or have been, using steroids. There is a norm for humans that can quickly be exceeded when one is using chemicals to gain a physical advantage, and that norm (or the non conformance to such a norm) can usually be detected with even minimal observation. Given that, I tell you, nearly everyone in the WWE appears to be using Anabolic Steroids on a regular basis! And, somehow the news of Benoit's abuse is "surprising" or unexpected?

I really think it is time someone took this abuse seriously. The DEA should easily be able to obtain records of every doctor that is prescribing anabolic steroids. I am a firm believer in doctor-patient confidentiality, and the DEA need not know who the end-recipients of such drugs are in order to detect patterns of abuse. There must be some sort of "baseline" level of truly justifiable and medically-required anabolic steroid prescriptions (I guess), and if a doctor exceed that level, there is probably a good reason to dig deeper.

Screening and testing of wrestlers and athletes is a joke too - whether "independent labs" are involved or not. Fact is, I'll bet the "independent" labs still have a vested interest in maintaining clients, and as such, make sure that results are as they need to be (by casually looking the other way as a certain person substitutes their urine-sample, or whatever else needs to be done). If the labs aren't in on allowing abuse to continue, then they are just plain clueless to all the tricks that are used to pass tests. One way or the other, something needs to change, and testing and enforcement needs to be consistent, accurate, and meaningful.

Whether these people (like Benoit) have a "prescription" for the anabolic steroids or not should also not matter. It seems rather apparent that the sole reason for such a prescription in this case is to become huge and/or strong, which certainly is not justification. If it is, then anyone that wants anabolics / testosterone should be able to walk into their doctor's office and say "I want steroids, as I want to get huge!" and have a prescription with few additional questions or obstacles.

Bottom line: either enforce existing laws against anabolic steroid use (by all persons - including "pros" and famous people), or get rid of the laws altogether since they appear to not apply to a certain group of people. Either way, I think we can at least all stop acting surprised when we hear about someone that has abused steroids, as I can almost guarantee the Benoit case is nothing too uncommon.


DED said...

No matter how much I lifted, I just could not put on much more than 10 or 20 pounds of muscle over my body's normal non-workout size.

My understanding is that one has to alter one's diet as well in order to promote weight/size gain past a certain size. i.e. protein shakes. I'm no expert on this and I've never gone far enough with weight lifting to consider getting bigger. I was always happy with my overall size, preferring to work on definition. :) Now if I only had the time....

Mike Eberhart said...

Yeah, I did the whole protein-rich diets and such, but it never mattered. Who knows, maybe I'm just not made for getting "huge". But, defined; I'm with you.