The Mitchell Report reveals the general ignorance about steroid use by Major League Baseball players and many other athletes in competitive sports. I would hope that the investment of millions of dollars into steroid use in MLB would result in a basic understanding of the various steroids used by baseball players and the quantities involved.
But apparently this was not within the scope of their investigation. Instead, investigators relied on a survey of bodybuilders and weightlifters to document and determine the manner, methods, and quantities of anabolic steroids used by professional baseball players and presumably all competitive athletes.
The adverse side effects of anabolic steroids used at the levels necessary to achieve these [performance-enhancing] effects can be significant, however. In part, this is because the doses of anabolic steroids typically used by athletes are much higher than those that would be prescribed for any legitimate therapeutic use, between 5 and 30 times greater than the level of testosterone naturally produced by the body.
Steroid use by competitive bodybuilders and steroid use by baseball players are apples and oranges.. The extreme use of anabolic steroids by competitive bodybuilders does not represent the quantities used by 95% of competitive athletes in various other sports. Equating the dangers of extreme steroid use in bodybuilders with typical steroid use in MLB players is inaccurate and misleading.
It is apparently irrelevent to the authors of the Mitchell Report; they entered with the assumption that all non-therapeutic anabolic steroid use will have serious adverse effects on the athlete; steroids could not be used at any level without dangerous side effects. Essentially, all steroid use was considered abuse by the Mitchell Report.
Advocates of illicit steroid use by athletes argue that the adverse side effects have been exaggerated, focusing their arguments on the limited clinical trial data available. Medical ethics have prevented the scientific study of the massive doses of steroids taken by athletes using these drugs to obtain an athletic advantage. Despite this limitation, however, there are sufficient data to conclude that there is an association between steroid abuse and significant adverse side effects.
And the “sufficient data” that Senator Mitchell cites to arrive at the conclusion of “significant adverse side effects” in MLB players using steroids is based on – you guessed it – competitive amateur bodybuilders! Apples and oranges.
The irony is that on the very same page where Senator Mitchell asserts the “significant adverse effects” of steroids, he actually cites a study on athletic performance that reflects dosages that are more likely to be used by professional baseball players and as well as the majority of competitive athletes.
S. Bhasin, et al., The Effects of Supraphysiologic Doses of Testosterone on Muscle Size and Strength in Normal Men, 335 New Eng. J. of Med. 1-7 (1996)
This study revealed an “absence of systemic toxicity” and no increase in the “occurrence of angry behavior” during the administration of a 10-week 600mg/week testosterone enanthate cycle.
In spite of Mitchell’s statement that such a study would not exist due to “medical ethics,” he is most certainly aware of its existence since he cited it. The likely explanation is that he remains ignorant to the quantities and cycles of steroids used by baseball players and athletes in general.
Not all anabolic steroids are created equally in terms of side effects. Nor do all dosages and manners of steroid administration result in the same side effects.