Two of my favorite steroid writers are John Hoberman, PhD and Charles Yesalis, PhD. I read their books. I read their articles. I have “Google Alerts” set to notify me when they are quoted by the media. I have even invited them to write for my website (and I’ve been fortunate to have Dr. Hoberman write a few feature articles for me).
Several of my friends and colleagues wonder why I enjoy works from these “anti-steroid guys.” While I may have a different perspective regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, Dr. Yesalis and Dr. Hoberman represent the few prominent “steroid experts” that generally stay above the histrionics and scaremongering. Dr. Yesalis recently discussed the topic of steroids in an interview published on website:
[S]teroids pose primarily an ethical, rather than a public health problem. The biggest issue is that using steroids is against the law, and against the rules of sport. These rules are what define sports, and using drugs to gain an advantage is tantamount to cheating.
On dangers of steroids:
As I mentioned in my book, the health risks have been greatly overstated. Hypertension, for example, is widely claimed to be a side effect of taking androgens. This is one of the most exaggerated claims. And as for users becoming sterile, there has never been a single reliably documented case of irreversible infertility as a result of androgen administration.
Think about it: medical science has been using steroids safely in a clinical setting for the last 70 years. Anabolic steroids can be used relatively safely, but at even low doses they can have side effects. No drug, supplement, or substance is totally “safe.” Heck, you can even overdose on water.
My personal opinion is that if one uses these drugs at high dosages, over a long period of time, then yes, they’re too powerful to fool Mother Nature. And it’s the oral (hepatoxic) steroids that can potentially be the most harmful. But should they be placed in the category of “killer drugs”? Absolutely not. Not even close.
On steroid “roid rage”:
But let me put this whole “rage” thing into perspective for you, Chris. You’ve been to Penn State home games. If you told me you’ve never seen outbursts of “rage” at a football game, then I would have to call “bullshit.” They happen all the time. And that’s not steroids, that’s alcohol. It’s not even in the same ballpark.
But what about the children?!
One of the biggest issues with young people in sports concerns their often fanatical coaches and parents. If a kid is constantly being told that he has to do “whatever it takes” to win that game, or to win that scholarship, or to get that start on the team, well, guess what? That kid is going to do whatever it takes.
From a moral and ethical standpoint, how you raise a child will determine that child’s behavior. If you instill certain standards in them, then they won’t cross certain lines. If parents want to make sure that their kids are not crossing lines, they need to be paying attention to who coaches their children, and what’s being told to them, and then they need to step back and re-examine their own relationship with their kids as well.
Whether you identify yourself as “anti-steroid” or “pro-steroid”, there is a lot to be learned from Dr. Yesalis in his, recent and older on the internet.