Way back, once upon a time after I was an athlete for pay but before I was a card carrying geek, most of my intellectual energy was invested in biochemistry, pharmacology, biology and the science of better athletes through chemistry. As you might imagine I have a lot of thoughts on the whole “steroids in sport” issue, as well as on Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, Greg LeMond and many other athletes with whom I trained, raced and most especially suffered.
Depending upon the reception this topic area receives I may or may not bring to light other articles I have written – I might even offer a few insights into the recent issues with doping and bike racing – like I said, it depends upon what you think of this topic. I penned the following piece a few years ago. It is half serious and half a raving rant in the style of Dennis Miller. In any case and without further explanation I give you:
A Question of Chemistry; the case FOR drugs in sport
©2002 Oliver W. Starr
The whole damn baseball thing pisses me off. Grown men paid millions to run around in pajamas and whack some ball around an abandoned football stadium. Worse, baseball had preempted the regular surf videos usually on the TV at my favorite bar and this was an unwelcome interruption to my normal routine.
My only solution was to drink and luckily the bartender abetted me ably in my quest. After my third marguerita I didn’t really care who was winning (not that I cared much to begin with) and I was less annoyed than I would have been sober.
Granted, “the national pastime” (as if even one in fifty Americans actually plays the game or gives more than a passing thought to it) has some money behind it; network support, big advertising revenues, and all that god-awful MLB merchandising. It also has big drug problems.
What? Baseball? The “ALL AMERICAN” game? While taking drugs isn’t precisely an American phenomenon, American athletes seem to be taking drug use to new heights. It used to be that drugs in sport meant late night calls to bail bondsmen and court-ordered substance abuse programs. No more. The new sports hero is all about performance enhancement, which means, among other things, anabolic steroids.
You’d have to be blind or at least too ascetic to own a television to have failed to notice the dramatic post-Rose change in professional ball players. Once, the rare slugger (who used to sport a radial or two round the middle) had guns on him. Now, even the formerly petite pitching star looks more like an aspiring “natural” bodybuilder than a quarter-miler.
I’m not a gambling man, but I’d be willing to place serious money on a definitive drug test positive for something more than andro if you tested the hair of one notorious heavy hitter. In fact, my suspicion is that a large percentage of the “men of summer” would fail an International Olympic Committee drug test with flying colors. Course they don’t have anything on track and field stars or gridiron gladiators, but then we’ve been inured to drug use in those disciplines since Alzado and Johnston made such spectacles of themselves.
If anything the whole androstene issue from years past was a perfect smokescreen for what was really in those player’s lockers. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not some misguided armchair quarterback with a totally unrealistic perspective on drugs in sports. Far from it; with a career as a professional athlete in two of the most drug-riddled sports on earth, I’m uniquely qualified to have an opinion on this issue and here it is; let these guys use all the drugs they want. Let them snort them, inject them, swallow them, rub them into their skin, pour them on their Wheaties or shove them up their asses. So long as performance is improved they can kill themselves for all I care.
In fact I’d back that policy 100%. As far as I’m concerned these guys are the Formula-One cars of sport. In fact, let’s stop this ridiculous sham and just kick the door wide open. I want to see the biggest, strongest, fastest, meanest mother-fuckers on the planet dukeing it out tag-team style in a pharmacologically enhanced free for all the likes of which we’ve NEVER seen in the WWF.
If perchance a few athletes succumb to cancer or the odd myocardial infarction we can only hope it happens on prime time; the physiological equivalent of a three car pileup on the back stretch.
Face it; if we police baseball, or any legitimate professional sport for that matter, we’re looking at performance backsliding to levels we haven’t been tortured with since the sixties. Personally, I’d rather see guys dropping dead over the finish line after running a 3:37 mile than yawning my way through a 4:55 by the current “drug-free” world’s best.
Imagine it. Golf will be dominated by power-driving “Happy Gilmores”, in tennis we’ll witness the first ever “death by service”, and cyclists will hit 60 mph in drag strip reminiscent field sprints where athletes literally snap the cranks off their machines as they drive towards the line.
Perhaps you think this is unsporting? Ask yourself this; is it more sporting to have quasi drug-free events dominated by a select few athletes with the resources to cheat the tests with the aid of top drug docs? Is it fair that we let our children grow up believing that their heroes, through hard work and talent alone have achieved their remarkable skill and physical prowess? Or is it better, as I propound, to call a spade a spade. We don’t pretend to fuel “fire breathing dragster tractors” with unleaded gasoline, why should we discriminate with people?
Let’s embrace the potential of the chemically enhanced athlete. It’s a brave new world with a brave new conscience completely prepared for the freakishness that only the monstrously drugged athlete can deliver. Either that or give me the fucking remote so I can turn the TV back to the surf videos I came here to see.