It's funny that track and field and other sports such as cycling and soccer are super-appealing to our neighbors across the Atlantic, yet we Americans find them about as exciting as watching corn grow in Iowa or "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann on MSNBC (I think the ratings for corn growing and "Countdown" are roughly equal).
But track and field is perhaps the purest of sports; and by pure, I don't mean it's devoid of drug use. By "pure," I mean that there's no subjective decision made by judges to determine winners and losers (à la bodybuilding). Instead, he who crosses the finish line first wins the money, the medal and the chicks. Though I'll admit I love watching all track events, from the 100-meter dash to the 1,500-meter run (roughly four laps), anything beyond four laps around a track, and I get a major case of ADD.
This brings me to Justin Gatlin. The world's fastest man (co-holder of the 100-meter dash record at 9.77 with Asafa Powell) tested positive for anabolic steroids. According to an article published recently (http://www.wcsn.com/article/news.jsp?ymd=20060729&content_id=2888&vkey=wcsn_news&dpre=), Gatlin stated, "I have been informed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] that after a relay race I ran in Kansas City on April 22, I tested positive for ‘testosterone or its precursors,'" the 100m joint world record holder said in a statement. "I cannot account for these results, because I have never knowingly used any banned substance or authorized anyone else to administer such a substance to me."
"It is unfortunate, but it is true," Gatlin's attorney, Cameron Myler said. I personally don't give a shit what anyone puts in their body as long as it doesn't harm their fellow man or woman (i.e., if you wanna get skunk drunk in your home, watch reruns of "Jackass," and then pass out on your couch with drool oozing from your oral cavity, fine; but once you decide to get into an automobile and put someone else in danger because of your stupidity, then you deserve to be locked up in jail).
Now certainly, Mr. Gatlin taking steroids or downing a wad of chewing tobacco is hardly unethical (unless it harms someone else). But that's a principled argument. Sport governing bodies really don't have principled arguments. They come up with willy-nilly reasons for banning stuff. Heck, WADA is even thinking of banning altitude tents. Yep, they don't want your body making more red cells via conditions that simulate altitude, albeit artificially induced. I guess if you live in Boulder Colorado, WADA will tell you to move to sea level. (Don't be surprised; these aren't Einsteins running that joint).
Perhaps the more problematic issue regarding drug use vis-à-vis sports is the profligate manner in which the United States government feels that they somehow have a say in the matter. Have these said congressmen actually read the U.S. Constitution that they have sworn to support and defend? Last time I checked, the U.S. Constitution doesn't even mention sports or steroids. Certainly, with the past congressional hearings on steroid use vis-à-vis baseball, one wonders what the hell the U.S. Congress is thinking.
I actually have a little copy of the U.S. Constitution (OK, I'm a geek), and I've read it forward, backward and Chinese style, and shit, I couldn't find a damn thing on steroids or sports. In fact, most of the document discusses the limitations placed on the federal government. Apparently our Founding Fathers (you'll find many of their mug shots on our money) were afraid of excessive federal power (me, too!). However, venerable Republican (and I use that term loosely) John McCain begs to differ. "Government intervention if baseball owners and players don't agree on a stricter steroid-testing program...I threatened them last March, and they didn't do anything. I don't know what choice we have unless we act now." Act now? Huh? Whatever happened to limited government and letting the states (as in the 50 states) decide for themselves what to do? Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan must be turning over in their graves.
Republicans are now the party of big government (with certain things, anyway). Is it too much to ask that before the U.S. Congress passes legislation that the said congressman finds the authority in the U.S. Constitution for passing such a bill? Or perhaps the congressman needs to sit down with Antonin Scalia (of Supreme Court fame) and go over the U.S. Constitution. Or read U.S. Constitution for Dummies (http://www.therealitycheck.org/FeaturedWriters/jcox121404.htm).
Who Came up with this Protocol?
Have you ever read a study and scratched your head wondering, "How'd they come up with THAT protocol?" Well I do. And a recent study was one deserving a ton of criticism. This investigation examined the effects multiple doses of anabolic steroids would have on the physical states of athletes during a hard-endurance training program. In a double-blind setting, three groups were orally administered placebo, testosterone undecanoate, or 19-norandrostenedione, 12 times during a one-month period. Serum biomarkers (creatine kinase, ASAT and urea), serum hormone profiles (testosterone, cortisol and LH) and urinary catecholamines (noradrenalin, adrenalin and dopamine) were evaluated during the treatment. Running performance was assessed before and after the intervention phase by means of a standardized treadmill test. What did they find? Nada, nothing, not a damn thing. Mmmm.
Then why do cyclists love taking anabolic steroids? Isn't it to promote faster and better recovery? Well, let's take a closer look at the study.1 Here's the problem. It's called treatment dose and duration. The dose each subject received was too low and the treatment duration (four weeks) was much too short. Even the authors of the study conceded these facts. They stated, "The doses of AAS administered in our investigation could have been too low to observe any performance or recovery improvements. Dosage and duration are critically important when it comes to androgen use [meaning, effective androgen use]."
One of the most frequently misused steroids, often declared to be a prohormone, is 1-testosterone (17beta-hydroxy-5alpha-androst-1-en-3-one, 1-testo). A recent investigation shows that 1-testo binds highly selectively to the androgen receptor (AR) and has a high potency to stimulate AR-dependent transactivation. In vivo, it's as potent as testosterone propionate (TP). Administration of 1-testo, in contrast to TP, results in a significant increase in liver weight (oops, big liver ain't good for the physique).2 So despite a high-anabolic profile, it seems that this androgen makes more than a few things grow (who needs a big liver?).
Jose Antonio, PhD hosts the Performance Nutrition (www.pnshow.com) radio web and podcast with Carla Sanchez. He earned his PhD at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. For more information visit: http://www.theissn.org/, http://www.suppplementcoach.com/ and http://www.javalution.com/.
- 1. Baume N, Schumacher YO, Sottas PE, et al. Effect of multiple oral doses of androgenic anabolic steroids on endurance performance and serum indices of physical stress in healthy male subjects. Eur J Appl Physiol, 2006.
- 2. Friedel A, Geyer H, Kamber M, et al. 17beta-hydroxy-5alpha-androst-1-en-3-one (1-testosterone) is a potent androgen with anabolic properties. Toxicol Lett, 2006;165:149-55.
- 3. Sheffield-Moore M, Paddon-Jones D, Casperson SL, et al. Androgen Therapy Induces Muscle Protein Anabolism in Older Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2006.