Steroids in the NFL

I’m surprised that this story isn’t getting more press. There’s too much in the story to summarize, so I’ll just quote a few paragraphs. But, you really ought to read the whole story, which names names.

The federal steroids case involving members of the Carolina Panthers Super Bowl team provides an unprecedented look at what some athletes risk to play professional sports, including one player who may have gambled with his life.

Medical records made public in court documents reveal that players were given multiple refillable steroid prescriptions and that some suffered unwanted, appearance-altering symptoms, prompting more prescriptions.

The medical records also raise questions that undercut the National Football League’s claim that its steroids testing program is the best in pro sports.

“Several of them were using disturbing, particularly alarmingly high amounts with high dosages for long durations — some in combinations,” said steroids expert Dr. Gary Wadler, who reviewed the medical records and prepared a report for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “This wasn’t just a passing flirtation with these prohibited substances.

“When I see (prescriptions) `renewed five times,’ I say, `What are you trying to accomplish?’ ”

Wadler’s report was used by prosecutors in the case against Dr. James Shortt, formerly of West Columbia, S.C., who was sentenced last month to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to illegally distributing steroids and human growth hormone (HGH).

I found this fact a bit disturbing.

Williams becomes the second Panthers player, joining Sauerbrun, linked to stanozolol in the Shortt case. Stanozolol is a powerful, highly detectable steroid that cost Ben Johnson his world record and gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Steroids expert and recently retired Penn State professor Dr. Charles Yesalis said it’s hard to fathom how two Panthers players could have used stanozolol without failing an NFL drug test if the system works as well as the league suggests.

Sounds to me like someone was being tipped off about the tests.

Addendum: Sean Forman does a little poking around and finds the Panthers steroid scandal isn’t getting much attention from any of the media outlets. And he adds this in the comments:

What do you think would happen if a large steroid ring were uncovered in the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals?

Heck, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa taken much more heat for steroid rumors. The Panthers scandal has the medical records of a doctor in jail.

9 Responses “Steroids in the NFL”

  1. Tom G says:

    I’ve always been more surprised this entire case hasn’t gotten more attention.

  2. Sean Forman says:

    What do you think would happen if a large steroid ring were uncovered in the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals?

    There would be huge blowback. I think this indicates just how little people actually care about the NFL as a sports league and how it’s popularity has to do with 1) gambling, 2) fantasy sports, and 3) entertainment. How many football fans could come even close to telling you the number of touchdowns Jerry Rice had in his career? O.J. Simpson? Jim Brown?

  3. Andrew says:

    Does anyone remember the ESPN show “Playmakers”? I loved that show because it seemed real; in fact, it was too real for the NFL who criticized ESPN until it was cancelled. But it sure seems more and more true (I recall that everyone knew the schedule of who was getting tested). Maybe baseball isn’t so bad after all.

  4. Mac says:

    It’s OK If You’re A Football Player, I guess.

  5. Charlie says:

    The generl public have a way forgetting things and are very quick to forgive. If you remember Lyle Alzado. The former linebacker for the LA Raiders, he died from complications from years of steriod use. I think that the NFL has a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. I’m sure that the “BIG WIGS” in NFL don’t won’t the players using steriods, but if on Sunday the crowds are big and ratings are high. I believe they could care less. Also, I believe that with only 16 regular season games a player is much more likely to try to get an edge. Where as with baseball you have 120+ that’s a lot of steriod use.

  6. Ron24 says:

    It doesn’t surprise me. Nor will I be surprised when we discover sometime in the future that steroids, HGH, etc. are STILL widely used in baseball.

    The thing that does surprise me is that I’ve never heard one word about performance enhancing drugs in the NBA. I’m sure it’s not because nobody is using them. Is the NBA’s testing regime just such a joke that nobody ever fails it?

  7. Nathan says:

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that nothing has been found in the NBA. The reason for this is I don’t believe it to be very common. In my opinion, the benefit to taking steroids in the NBA for most players is small compared to the possible costs (injuries, reputation, etc.). In fact, one could argue that a rapid increase in muscle strength would mess up a one’s shooting touch. Whereas baseball, football, and track are much more about strength and power. I’m not saying that it doesn’t occur,but I conjecture that it is much less common. Perhaps Shaquille and some of the more power players would benefit, but for anyone at the 1, 2, 3, and even most at the 4 position I argue it would not be beneficial.

  8. Mac says:

    I’ll throw in that in the NBA it’s more common for a player to have trouble keeping weight off than putting it on. There are, however, a few NBA players who are suspiciously cut.

  9. NKW says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. The NFL (and MLB’s, for that matter) drug policy is not an outlawing of cheating, but rather a ban on certain methods of it. How to outlaw cheating is an interesting question that I don’t think can possibly be solved. That said, I’ve ranted about this (how the policies just change the chemical being injected but not the presence of an injection) before, so I won’t again.

    As for the NBA, I agree with Nathan. There’s no way Nash or Iverson are on anything. Strength is only so useful for players who get by on (for lack of a better term) grace. Now, power guys are another story. Their sole purpose is to lumber around, take up space, and hit the occasional 5 footer. The game is so physical that injuries can always be chalked up to the most recent bump under the rim. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that a Shaq or a Malone-like-player have been using.

    Although, on the other hand, to play devil’s advocate, I wonder if there really is a benefit to steroids in the NBA. (I’ll let you all discuss, I really don’t have an answer). These bruisers are also paid to get rebounds, which requires jumping. Most steroid injuries are in the legs. It seems like a disastrous recipe. I dont know, just rambling aloud (thanks for listening).