by Josh Hodnik
Fairness and equality are topics that have taken a pretty big spotlight over the past few years. L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling created a media storm regarding his recent statements about race, and the criticism towards Sterling by all racial groups has shown how much our society has changed for the better when it comes to racial equality. When fairness is concerned, one has to ask what is actually fair? We are all born with different genes and raised in different environments, but when someone succeeds at something and another person doesn’t, jealousy will often drive the unsuccessful person to think things are just not fair. A feeling of unfairness has been a big driving force behind many of the witch-hunts that have taken place regarding anabolic steroids.
When Barry Bonds was on the way to become the all time homerun leader, the phrase “unlevel playing field” was probably used more than it ever had been in the past. The consensus was that Bonds was a cheater and did not deserve to be crowned as the homerun king. I suspect that much of the bashing that Bonds received was due to jealousy, and the fact he is not a real personable guy didn’t help matters. Barry was a high performing athlete well before he took anabolic steroids. Successful people such as top-level athletes, bodybuilders, and successful businessmen have all put in work, that the average person would not even think about doing, to get to the level that they are at. Of course, genetics play a huge roll on how far a person can go in the sports world, but an athlete or bodybuilder cannot be created without extreme dedication to training and diet. This is not usually considered when an athlete or bodybuilder is labeled a cheater. Lets talk about that damn emotion called jealousy once more. It is very easy for a once or current underachieving athlete to call someone like Barry Bonds or any other athlete a cheater that has admitted or accused of using performance enhancing drugs. Who wants to admit to himself or herself or anyone else that they have shitty genetics? Not many with today’s view on masculinity and athleticism. With that being said, it is easier for someone to condemn a steroid user if they have accomplished something much greater than they ever have.
Former Plano West baseball star Taylor Hooten committed suicide in 2003 after he stopped taking anabolic steroids. Taylor’s suicide was said to be as a result of depression. Taylor’s father Don started the Taylor Hooten organization and even testified before congress about the dangers of steroids. It is proven that when steroid use is stopped abruptly, as in the case with Taylor Hooten, natural testosterone levels will remain low for some time, causing lethargy and mild depression. Depression from low testosterone is not uncommon. In fact, it’s a side effect recognized by the medical community for men suffering from low-testosterone. The number of men walking around with low testosterone levels is at an all-time high, so suicide rate should climb with it if the depression from this condition is severe enough to cause suicide. It is known that Taylor Hooten was taking the anti-depressant known as Lexapro. The FDA put a black box warning on this drug in 2004, stating that it caused an increase is suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Before my arrest by the FDA, I was taking massive amounts of anabolic steroids and had been for several years without a break. Obviously, when the arrest occurred and I was sent to federal prison, and my natural testosterone levels were non-existent. So I went through the depressive state that Hooten experienced, and this was just a month after my twin sister died in a car accident, while not knowing how much prison time I was going to get. So my world was not looking good, and there was never a thought of suicide. I didn’t know Taylor Hooten’s personal world and never will. Who knows what fueled this kid’s suicide. This is a very sad situation, but to blame anabolic steroids is absurd. When death occurs, families will often go through phases of hurt and anger, and the anger can drive a family member to blame and do things they normally wouldn’t. I think this is the case with Don Hooten, but while many people disregard what he has said and done, our lawmakers have believed every word that has come out of his mouth.
While it’s known that anabolic steroids have side effects, just like any other drug prescribed here in the U.S., the consensus is that anabolic steroids cause cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and even roid rage. Even though that these side effects have been shown not to occur in people that do not abuse anabolic steroids, the public’s view has changed much. Before prescription drugs are marketed here in the United States, the amount of money that will be paid out in lawsuits is calculated, and if this number is too high to show a decent profit, this drug will go to the trash. It’s basically a risk versus reward type of mentality. Almost twenty thousand deaths occur each year to prescription drug use. These are drugs that are still on the market and still being prescribed to patients.
In America 88k people die each year from alcohol use, 480k from tobacco, and 100k from prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are controlled for the most part, but tobacco and alcohol only have age restrictions as far as use is concerned. It is estimated that about a half a dozen deaths have occurred supposedly due to anabolic steroid use or abuse. These deaths due to steroids are still questionable, because even though the deceased used anabolic steroids and carried more muscle mass than normal, it is still unsure whether anabolic steroids or other lifestyle factors contributed to these deaths. We have more people that die in the U.S. each year from acetaminophen use (more than 300) than the supposed number of steroids deaths in total. What is wrong here?
Anabolic steroids are now schedule 3 drugs, which puts them in a category with ketamine, clortemine, peramine, which are all mind-altering drugs; anabolic steroids are not mind altering. I know all about roid rage stories, but several physicians have debunked that myth many years ago after numerous studies were performed in the matter. Roid rage easily falls into the blaming category when it comes to anabolic steroid use. A steroid user does something stupid or psychotic and immediately blames anabolic steroid use instead of his or her real issues. It’s like blaming a gun for a psychotic person running into a school and shooting it up. The public has a hard time perceiving that there are really some crazy people out there.
As we know, when professional sports get hammered over steroid use, it will bleed over to the bodybuilding community. It is well known these days that all professional and top-level amateur bodybuilders use large amounts of anabolic steroids. Some will deny use and some will admit it, but it is there. At the end of the day, when all the laws are put into place, it is the bodybuilder (competitive or not) that has to watch out. It is not Alex Rodriguez or Barry Bonds that will serve a hefty prison sentence, it is the unknown guy that is doing everything to be healthier and look the best he can.