What's Your Position on Steroid Use? Bonds Trial & Bigger Stronger Faster May Change Your Mind

Bigger Faster Stronger is a fascinating documentary that may impact your position on steroid use.   It reveals many valid opinions on the use of anabolic steroids and how it relates to the pursuit of the American Dream. This film was released in 2008.  Perhaps you could consider me completely behind in keeping up with well produced sports related documentaries.  I do everything I can to just watch my Real Sports on HBO with Bryant Gumbel.  But thank god for TiVo.  I finally got a chance to watch Bigger Faster Stronger.   It was completely apropos considering that the Barry Bonds trial is bringing steroid use back to center stage despite that the trial is actually a perjury case. 

Bonds is charged with lying to the grand jury in 2003 about his steroid use.  The trial, taking place in San Francisco is being touted by several news agencies as the federal perjury trial of all-time.  Bonds has pleaded not guilty to the four counts against him - he claims he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.  Bonds has not been seen inside the diamond since 2007. This week begins with what is expected to be key testimony in a trial that has cost millions.  Six years of time has been dedicated to building a case against Bonds, who broke Hank Aaron's home run record in 2007.   Regardless of whether a jury chooses to believe he didn't know what was in his arthritis cream, power drink or whatever, this effort and money is being spent to possibly send him to jail for 6 months...? home arrest...? community service...?  Probation...?  
The steroid scandal began in 2005 when Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, our Sammy Sosa and Frank Thomas (along with others) were subpoenaed in front of Congress.   The hearings exposed holes in the rules in baseball and how they police drug use overall.  But it leads to exposing the involvement of BALCO Industries, a sports supplement company that produced the sports performing enhancing drugs.  But after reading Sean Gregory's article in TIME this past Friday and in viewing Bigger Faster Stronger, I feel the efforts to use Bonds as an example and the money it is costing is not worth putting an ankle bracelet on the  ex-Giant.
I really do not like the idea of steroids being used so widely in professional sports.  I would rather see raw athletic talent compete.   I know many people that have prescriptions for HGH (human growth hormone) and DHEA to reduce aging, estrogen to treat menopause and even testosterone to help normalize energy and virility over 50 years of age.  But few would openly admit to their prescriptions, despite the fact that they are being administered responsibility.  Sadly Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids when he broke the baseball home run record in 1998 early last year.  But in hindsight, I am honestly happy that baseball was saved - the revitalization of the sport was indeed a result of the home run race between him and Sammy Sosa.  McGwire even went so far as to say, " he wished he never played during the steroid era."  So essentially does that mean he wishes he played before the 1990, certainly not now - steroids seem to be a part of the norm for professional athletics.  Perhaps that is not a fair statement to make.   Without offending the many that still believe in competition showcasing natural abilities at the highest level, I am not sure it is a realistic expectation anymore.  But Bigger, Faster, Stronger sheds a lot of light on the issue of steroid use.  It exposes the contradictions over the use of steroids verse other performance enhancing procedures that provide athletes with an edge.
I think I need to continue to stew on the issue.  The ethical part of me is not comfortable with the idea of steroids being used at all to enhance a competitive edge.  However, it seems to be idealistic today to have that position.  As a person who has covered the sport of MMA, where steroid use is growing, and in watching several stories on steroids in professional sports, including Bigger Faster Stronger, I am wavering.  
What are your thoughts on the issue?  Have you seen any other documentaries or stories that shed more light on the issue?

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  • Katalin,

    It is nice to see someone else bring more attention to the use of performance-enhancements substances. I have written on the topic, and its impact on our sports and youth sports culture, on numerous occasions. It a nutshell, let me just say it is not a good thing. There use has negative impacts far beyond just the user, something they fail to see.

    Please feel free to visit my blog here at ChicagoNow where I have a plethora of different pieces on this and other sports related topics. You may find some of interest.


    Kirk Mango

  • The worst part is the message it send to young people. I didn't even dive into it. But the film does address it - I was really impressed with how well made it was and the discussion. The dialog on the topic was intelligent.

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