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Steinberg: Steriods not for sports

January 21, 2012|By Leigh Steinberg

Warren Moon, the late coach Bill Walsh, Ken Dorsey and I testified before the California Senate and Assembly several years back supporting a bill by State Senator Jackie Speier to ban steroids and dangerous supplements from high school students and provide education on the subject.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the ban, but vetoed the educational component. Since the Governor profited from his ownership of magazines which advertised such substances, we were not surprised. The danger that these compounds pose requires constant vigilance.

Two groups of high school are at special risk: 1. Athletes are often told by coaches that they need to be bigger, stronger and faster without specifying the way to achieve these goals. Athletes are hyper-competitive and may seek an edge by whatever means necessary. 2. Body Builders. There is a group of young males who work to achieve a muscular and chiseled look. They compete with each other to see who can develop the most dramatic upper body musculature. They may be sublimating the stresses that adolescent hormones create.

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The use of anabolic steroids to achieve muscle growth comes at a high cost. In the 80s I had a number of clients, mostly offensive and defensive lineman who were on cycles of steroids. They were easy to identify. They often had pimples, receding hairlines and a "doughy" look to their upper bodies. The behavioral changes were dramatic. They would swing from hyperagressive "roid rage" in which they were agressive, hostile and dramatic to a very emotional state.

When a player came off of a cycle, heavy depression would occur. We had one client kill himself. The deaths of Raider defensive linemen Lyle Alzado and John Matuzak from cancer that many felt was steroid induced sent a ripple of fear through the NFL. This is why there was consensus among the league, teams, players and agents that a total ban was necessitated.

Unfortunately Major League Baseball engaged in collective denial, with the steroid-fueled home run record chase bringing popularity back to the sport after a disastrous strike. Some of the damage that occurs by artificially speeding up the body will take many years to manifest.

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