[Editor's note: Drug abuse is a serious subject, and so is this article. Have a parent or trusted adult review this article before you read it. But DO read it. And never be afraid to ask questions.]
The videos here in the BL Gym will have you well on your way to a great workout program. Good things take time; keep at it and you’ll soon see real results.
Some athletes, though, would have you believe there’s a faster, better way to getting bigger and stronger: steroids.
They are dead wrong.
Here’s the straight scoop—the fine print you won’t see when you look at muscle-bound professional athletes who took the cheater’s route.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Taylor Hooton lived the good life: good family, good looks, good grades. He was a promising pitcher on his 10th-grade team in Plano, Texas. But Taylor desperately wanted to crack the starting rotation on the varsity.
On more than one occasion, Taylor must have thought, What can I do to make it to the next level? At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Taylor was a long, lean player. One of his coaches took him aside and told him he needed to bulk up to succeed at the varsity level. How much do I want it? Taylor asked himself.
In the fall of his junior year Taylor began using steroids on the sly. Over a period of months he added nearly 30 pounds of muscle. When he looked in the mirror he liked what he saw, but those around him didn’t. His girlfriend noticed that Taylor was acting paranoid and jealous. He cried frequently and got into a fistfight with her ex-boyfriend, sending her ex to the doctor for stitches. On numerous occasions Taylor lost his temper and pounded the floor, punched walls or heaved objects. When Taylor’s dad asked why he was acting rude and disrespectful to family members, Taylor said, “Pop, you wouldn’t understand. I’m just stressed.”
But this was more than stress. As he cycled on and off the drugs, Taylor was experiencing the extreme mood swings that are side effects of steroids. The sudden storms of anger and irrational behavior — known as roid rages — were becoming more frequent. His parents, unaware that he was using steroids, sent Taylor to a psychiatrist.
In the month before Taylor’s senior year they took a family vacation to England. Before returning home, Taylor stole a laptop and video projector from other hotel guests. His family was shocked at the uncharacteristic behavior and confronted Taylor when they returned home. As partial punishment Taylor was grounded for two weeks. When he awoke the next morning Taylor sat next to his mom and begged, “Please don’t ground me.”
His mother refused his plea, and Taylor plodded upstairs.
There, he hanged himself, ending his life a month after his 17th birthday.
A NO-WIN GAME
As a boy growing up in Foster City, Calif., Rob Garibaldi lived for baseball. When he was 4 his dad took him to a San Francisco Giants game, where they toured the dugout. Rob looked up at his dad and asked, “Do they get paid to do this?” It was his lifelong dream to suit up in a big-league uniform.
He would do almost anything to achieve it.
By his junior year in high school, college coaches were calling to offer scholarships, but they told Rob he lacked one tool: size. At 5-foot-9 and 130 pounds, Rob was lacking the body pro teams look for. So-called experts told him he needed to get up to 185 pounds by his senior year, according to his dad, Ray Garibaldi.
When Rob turned on the TV he couldn’t help but notice that his baseball idols looked bigger, stronger and faster each year. Hitters were ripping balls over the fences at rates never seen before in the history of the game.
“In Rob’s mind, if those big sluggers had to take steroids, then someone like him would surely have to do it,” his dad says.
By the time Rob graduated from high school, he had grown to 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds. That summer he tried his first cycle of steroids.
Although he started his sophomore year at the University of Southern California, he could not ignore the whispers of coaches that he needed to add some size. During the fall of 2000 he experienced his first roid rage episode. And his life started to unravel.
His roid rages continued. When his father confronted him about his steroid use and suggested testing for liver or kidney damage, Rob left the room and returned in a rage, grabbing his dad by the throat and wrestling him to the ground. He barely slept and late at night often roamed the countryside alone. His parents tried everything to help him, including an involuntary hospitalization and a stay at a treatment center. The doctors explained that he was having severe withdrawal from steroids and that he would suffer until the chemicals were completely gone from his system.
Later Rob had hallucinations and became paranoid. In the early morning hours of an October day in 2002, 24-year-old Rob Garibaldi sat in his car and shot and killed himself with a gun he had stolen the day before.
DON’T COMMIT THE CRIME
Possession of anabolic steroids is a federal offense punishable by one year in prison and/or a minimum fine of $1,000.
Selling or possessing steroids with the intent to sell is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
These punishments may be more severe if the violator is not a first-time offender. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 has added 18 substances to the banned list. Many so-called “nutritional supplements,” such as androstenedione (called andro), are banned. Legislators are considering more severe penalties for violation of all steroid laws.
It’s not just baseball players like Hooton and Garibaldi who develop a fatal attraction to steroids. Every sport is affected.
Every major sports governing body has outlawed steroids. Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, National Collegiate Athletic Association and International Olympic Committee have banned steroid use by athletes.
At the 1988 Olympic Games, the world’s biggest athletic event, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson bested American great Carl Lewis to win a gold medal in the 100-meter dash. He was hailed as a national hero in Canada and proclaimed “The Fastest Man in the World.”
Then the results of his drug test came back, revealing heavy steroid use.
Johnson was stripped of his medal and, after further steroid infractions, banned from track and field. His career—and his life—was ruined.
You probably have heard the old saying, “Cheaters never win and winners never cheat.”
Although steroids may pump your body up to be bigger, stronger and faster, beyond the deadly dangers there also is a moral price to pay.
Discouraged by her poor performances on the track in 2003, Kelli White began taking the steroid THG, an endurance-boosting drug called EPO and a testosterone cream. Almost immediately she began to train harder, with much less rest between workouts, and her times dropped dramatically. In 2003, after having never won any major track event, she won
the U.S. Championships 100- and 200-meter titles and the world title in Paris, France. White welcomed her new fame and growing fortune.
But the changes in how she felt about herself were devastating.
In an interview with the USA Today newspaper she admitted, “I became somebody totally different. I had to compromise my integrity, my value system. I knew it was so wrong. I look at that person and I’m like, ‘That’s not Kelli White. That’s not who I am, who I started out to be.’”
Upon learning that French athletic officials had discovered a stimulant in her post-race drug test, White confessed to steroid use. She was banned from the sport for two years. In addition to being stripped of her racing titles, White lost close to $700,000 in prize money and endorsements. Whether she ever reclaims her lost self-esteem remains to be seen.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
On Psychological Damage: “Some individuals develop prominent manic symptoms, including euphoria, grandiose beliefs, reckless behavior, severe irritability and aggressiveness when taking steroids. Steroid abusers also risk the possibility of a depressive episode during the withdrawal period after they finish a cycle. During withdrawal, abusers may experience depressed mood, lethargy, excessive sleep, loss of appetite and sometimes even suicidal feelings.”
—Dr. Harrison Pope, Harvard University researcher, and colleagues
On Physical Damage: “For a teenager, steroid use hastens the closing of the long bones. The body thinks you have finished adolescence, so you may not reach your genetically predetermined height. Males may develop a high-pitched voice, stop producing sperm and develop breast tissue. Users may develop enlarged hearts, liver tumors and a wide range of medical problems.”
—Dr. Gary Wadler, Professor of Medicine, New York University
Legally Speaking: “When professional athletes use steroids, it makes it O.K. in the minds of student-athletes. Steroids are dangerous for so many reasons, but the bottom line is that steroids are illegal, and there are penalties that users will pay.”
—California State Senator Jackie Speier, trying to pass legislation mandating steroid education and awareness
On Cheating: “It’s simple. Most guys don’t want to be associated with cheating. Steroids are illegal. They cause physical
harm. Sometime you’re going to have to pay the piper, and you may have to pay for it later with your health.”
—Former Florida Marlins infielder Damion Easley