Steroids in sport. The latest media craze.
War on steroids in sport. War on steroids in schools, or should we say more accurately, war on steroids used by school level rugby players.
The media has gone crazy, Drug Free sport has gone crazy and now everybody has the police going crazy. What are the facts and what is going on?
Let me say from the outset that I’m totally against anybody taking steroids below the age of 21. Nor to I promote steroid use. But if you are going to use it, get the best advice how to do so with minimum risk and side effects. I also understand the unfairness of steroids in sport but I also understand the reasons and the reality of what drives it.
This all started with Drug Free Sport blaming steroid suppliers for athletes taking steroids. They have succeeded in creating the perception that every substance banned in sport is also illegal. This is a lie. Many substances on the banned list can be bought totally legally over the pharmacy counter. So the banned list and illegal substances are two very different things.
Steroids in rugby.
The hype spilled over into the rugby domain after several rugby players tested positive for anabolic steroids. Not the first time and not the last time. This lead to a focus on school rugby and these kids using steroids. Ruby is seen as potentially very lucrative career and schoolboys want in. Parents want them in. 80% of school rugby players that are on steroids are on it with their parents knowledge. Surprised? Don’t be. Everybody wants in.
Why to professional rugby players take steroids? The first reason is because there is money involved. Make the team, make money, simple. The second reason is once on the team you are expected to put your body on the line week after week so SARFU can make money on the broadcast rights. How can you expect our players to take that kind of punishment without help with strength and recovery. All for our entertainment. Do we really car if they are on something?
SARFU has taken the correct route for reducing steroid use. Increase testing and impose heavier bans. Put testing in place at schools and run educational campaigns teaching kids about the dangers of using steroids. Full marks to SARFU.
Athletes on steroids.
Inside information states that the IOC has on many occasions busted athletes before races and still let them run provided they don’t win. Why? Media coverage that depends on viewership. Money for the IOC. Athletic viewership is on the decline because records are not being broken because they where set on performance enhancing drugs and the testing has now clamped down on what and how much athletes can use.
Why do athletes take it. Money, plain and simple. You don’t make the team you don’t get money, you don’t stay on the team you don’t make money. Everybody is talented and on steroids so how are you going to beat them on talent alone.
In South Africa, our athletes get no support form governing bodies. Look at what happened at the recent olympics. No wonder they take steroids or maybe not nearly as many of them are on steroids judging by their performance. Drug Free Sport who watches to many movies takes another approach on dealing with their members taking steroids.
Inability to test.
They shift the focus from their inability to test their athletes to the suppliers. They then intimidate the athletes to give up their sources in return for not getting banned. So if you are an athlete, use steroids because if you get caught you can get your ban lifted by giving information. This achieves exactly the opposite of what is required to reduce drug use. The athlete that was busted taking a totally legal substance for flu gets banned because he has no information. The athlete taking hardcore drugs gets off because he gives information.
Or so it seems. The reality is that the ban will stay in place because it depends on a conviction. So no conviction no getting the ban lifted. That’s besides the fact that athletes are intimidated to set up suppliers by participating in transactions designed to expose suppliers. These athletes are not only encouraged to participate in an illegal activity while being put potentially in harm’s way by an organization that has no legal standing. Pathetic. Take a page out of SARFU’s book.
The real facts:
By far the greatest majority of steroid user do so for aesthetic reasons and have no ties to school kids or sport. They choose to use it themselves. This accounts for 95% of steroid users. Fact. For some reason people think that by stopping supply steroids in sport is going to be stopped. Athletes take steroids because they choose to. When they get caught they plead stupidity , no surprise there. By removing one supplier you simply open the door on another one. Same with narcotics. As long as there is a demand then there will be supply. So reduce the demand, impose 10 year bans and increase testing. That’s the only why to get drugs out of competitive sport.
Educate people on the risks. This has been largely left to people like myself. By all means hammer people selling to school kids, but also hold parent responsible that know their kids are on it. Hold coaches responsible and hold the kids responsible but educate them for heaven sakes.
Steroids are no linked to crime like narcotics, by enlarge it is used by health people going to gym and taking care of themselves. There is overwhelming evidence to support this. The average person in the street is less concerned with bodybuilders and far more concerned with violent crimes, a war we seem to be losing in this country so one has to wonder about all the resources being taken away from the priority. Nobody forces people to take drugs, they choose to so ultimately they have to take the responsibility.