Last updated on: 12/30/2008 2:48:00 PM PST
Should Steroid Use Be Accepted in Sports?



PRO (yes)

Norman Fost, MD, MPH, Professor and Director of the Medical Ethics Program at the University of Wisconsin, made the following statement in a Dec. 18, 2006 interview published by Scout.com (a Fox Sports News website) titled "Baseball Men - The Skeptic":

"[W]e allow people to do far more dangerous things than play football or baseball while using steroids. We allow people to bungee-jump, to ski on advanced slopes, to cliff dive. To eat marbled meat or ice cream pie every day if they want. I don't think we want to go down a path in which we restrict and even criminalize behaviors just because they have health risks. And steroids are so low on the list of drugs or diets that cause serious harm I don't understand why we would start there."

Dec. 18, 2006 - Norman Fost, MD, MPH 



Jennifer Sey, former US national champion gymnast, wrote the following information in an Aug. 10, 2008 Salon.com article titled "Let 'Em Eat Steroids":

"When athletes compete at the highest levels, all that matters is winning. The environment can become cultlike, in that normal standards no longer apply...

I don't blame the athletes like Marion Jones for juicing their performance with a little extra oomph. She's caught up in her sport; she needs that little somethin' somethin' to maintain her edge. Everyone else is doing it. If you shot me up with whatever she had, I wouldn't be the fastest woman alive. It was still her out there on that track.

If the athletes are willing to risk their health - which many do already without taking steroids - let them. It doesn't ruin it for me."

Aug. 10, 2008 - Jennifer Sey 



Gary Roberts, JD, Editor-in-chief of The Sports Lawyer, submitted the following response in a Dec. 13, 2004 debate entry titled "What Should Baseball Do About Drugs," published by Legal Affairs:

"Home runs are hit only because the player has great skill at swinging a bat at a little ball coming at him at over 90 mph. Most of the folks reading this could take steroids all their lives and still not be able to hit that little ball.

If someone wants to earn millions of dollars being a professional baseball player, he may feel pressured to use steroids to make himself the best that he can be. If he doesn't want to take those health risks, he can take his chances or go into some other line of work. Nobody forces anyone to be a baseball player. That is true for guys who fight oil well fires, tame lions, or do dangerous stunts for the movies, as well.

In short, if the public wants to see 500 foot home runs and there are young men willing to run the health risks associated with taking substances that allow them to hit those home runs and make millions of dollars, why not cut the pretense of public outrage and let them do it?"

Dec. 14, 2004 - Gary Roberts, JD 



Eric Walker, retired sports consultant for the Oakland A's, stated the following opinion in his Steroids And Baseball website (accessed Dec. 3, 2008):

"There is simply no plausible case, ethical or practical, to be made for prohibiting [steroid] use, not in law, not in sports-organization codes...

It is supposed to be a basic tenet of any society daring to call itself 'free' that it is not to regulate conduct that is not risky to those not willingly accepting the risk...many would say that it ought not even to regulate conduct that is risky unless that risk is material.

The various 'risks' ignorantly (or deliberately) assigned to [steroid] use are by and large specious. In sum, there are medical risks, but of nothing remotely like the variety or severity commonly suggested. In reality, they are unlikely, usually minor, and almost universally reversible."

Dec. 3, 2008 - Eric Walker 



Glenn Darby, sports editor at Fox News, wrote the following information in a Mar. 27, 2008 article titled "Alex Rodriguez Fallout: Is There Any Stopping Steroids?" and published on the Bleacher Report website:

"Doctors will tell me that steroids are dangerous. Acne and 'roid rage' are not the only side-effects. Tumors and jaundice are always a possibility, and there is death. Of course, that doesn't stop doctors from prescribing them for patients for things ranging from an infection all the way up to cancer. They are hormones and, just like anything else, are bad when used too much. So why not control it?

If a baseball player has a doctor who says it is okay for them to use steroids, who is MLB to stop them? Those who buy it without a prescription (or obtain prescriptions from vets and other weird doctors) should be prosecuted by the law and not MLB. Other than that, let the doctors continue to make us better athletes. They've been doing it forever. No sense in stopping now."

Mar. 27, 2008 - Glenn Darby 



CON (no)

Athletes Against Steroids, an outreach and educational organization dedicated to eradicating steroids in sports, wrote the following information on its website (accessed Dec. 8, 2008):

"Young athletes everywhere are turning to performance enhancement drugs – playing steroid roulette with their lives in hopes of making it into the 'big leagues.' They’re falling for the big lie that these drugs are safe and okay to use. And why shouldn't they? After all, aren't many of their favorite sports heroes juicing and getting paid millions of dollars a year for doing so?

But the truth is that steroids are KILLERS...DESTROYERS...LIFE WRECKERS!...[S]ome people contend that there is very little evidence that steroids actually cause death. Well the truth is – they are just plain wrong! Anabolic steroids along with the whole panoply of other performance-enhancing drugs really do kill."

Dec. 8, 2008 - Athletes Against Steroids 



Deborah Sorensen, former US professional bodybuilder, was quoted as having said the following in an article titled "A Female Steroid User Describes Drug Hell!" published on the Athletes Against Steroids website (accessed Dec. 8, 2008):

"Part of being an athlete is that you become vulnerable to the whim of every trainer, coach, media person, promoter, and sponsor. They want freaks. So you set out to be a freak or go unnoticed. The things you are willing to do for success are humiliating to think about.

I was a hard, suspicious, neurotic woman while I was taking steroids. That just isn't me. I've seen marriages dissipate, families break up and financial security dissolve because of these drugs. I've seen men go on a cycle of [steroids] with the money they'd saved for their children's clothes, and I've watched innocent victims get thrown across a bar room for no reason by men who haven't the ability to control their aggression while using [steroids]. I've watched happy, energetic and positive guys go from Dr. Jeckyl to Mr. Hyde, and I've seen petite women turn into hulking no-neck bearded monsters with acne all over their backs and shoulders...

[I] hope that at least one person will decide not to use steroids...or a few people in the same situation will become aware, as I did, and stop before their tragedy comes back to haunt them."

Dec. 8, 2008 - Deborah Sorensen 



Paul Finkelman, PhD, President William Mckinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy at Albany Law School, submitted the following response in a Dec. 13, 2004 debate entry titled "What Should Baseball Do About Drugs," published by Legal Affairs:

"Steroids undermine the integrity [of the game] by placing in doubt the skills of the players, as fans assume that homers are hit because of steroids, not skill.

Steroids are obviously dangerous to the players...Professional baseball players are adults and can make adult decisions. But, the issue of steroids is not that simple. If some players use steroids, others are forced to do the same, in order to compete; those who do not may lose their job...Those who use them harm their bodies; those who don't use them face unfair competition...Thus we have an industry which condones, and silently encourages (through higher salaries) the use of something known to be harmful to their employees. In no other industry would we condone this or encourage it...

Baseball should develop an ironclad rule that is tough and only slightly forgiving. If a player is caught using steroids he should be out of baseball for a full year. If the player uses them again, he should be banned for life. No one uses steroids by accident. So, proof of steroid use should lead to automatic suspension from the game or a complete ban from the game."

Dec. 13, 2004 - Paul Finkelman, PhD 



Robert L. Simon, PhD, Marjorie and Robert W. McEwen Professor of Philosophy at Hamilton College, stated the following in a Dec. 7, 2004 live internet chat with online readers titled "Drugs in Sports: Robert Simon," published by USAToday.com:

"I would argue that prohibition [of steroids] is justified because (1) steroid use makes little sense if everyone uses; gains are minimal and everyone is exposed to the risks, (2) how your body reacts to a steroid is not an athletic talent like running or hitting, and (3) it's worth protecting the ideal of sport as a healthy pursuit. Critics might reply that it is better to give people choices, but I would give greater weight to protecting the idea of sport as a healthy pursuit where the rules make sense when applied to everyone and that we focus on athletic ability, not how one's body reacts to a drug."

Dec. 7, 2004 - Robert Simon, PhD 



Joe Biden, JD, US Vice President-elect, wrote the following statements in an op-ed article first published by The Hartford Courant on Mar. 17, 2005:

"The BALCO steroid scandal proved that athletes who can make millions are willing to spend thousands to gain an edge and not get caught. It is time for all pro sports in America to get in line with the high standards of the Olympics. Steroid users of all ages believe it will make them stronger, but they ignore the serious health hazards. It puts people at greater risk for heart attacks and strokes, increases aggressiveness, stunts growth and can cause liver and kidney damage. Many of these side effects are irreversible...[y]et, many pro baseball players remain cavalier...

Many believe we should have more important things to investigate than Major League Baseball. To a certain extent, I agree: This is clearly not the No.1 issue facing Congress...[but] steroids...are not just baseball's problem...this truly is a national problem, and the seriousness and urgency with which athletes, owners, educators, parents and community leaders confront it will speak volumes about the kind of society in which we want to live and the values we cherish."

Mar. 17, 2005 - Joe Biden, JD