Patterico's Pontifications

1/20/2008

Steroids for Kids

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 12:52 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

This Sports Illustrated article demonstrates why society must respond to steroid use by sports figures:

“When former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell presented his much anticipated report last month that chronicled the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball, he encouraged the discussion to be broadened beyond MVPs and Cy Young Award winners. In particular he warned about what he called “the most disturbing part of my research”: the prevalence of steroids in youth sports. “Several hundred thousand young Americans are using steroids; it’s an alarming figure,” Mitchell told SI the day after he issued his report. “At that age, they’re subject to hormonal change, and the risk to them — both physical and psychological — is significantly greater than it is for mature adults.”

Had Mitchell wanted an embodiment of that risk, he needed to look no further than Corey Gahan. With his promising in-line skating career now reduced to videos and a scrapbook, and his estranged father serving a six-year sentence in a federal prison — believed to be the first parent convicted of providing steroids to his own child — Corey, now 18, represents a chilling cautionary tale of what can happen when performance-enhancing drugs poison youth sports.”

Corey’s story is at the link.

— DRJ

35 Responses to “Steroids for Kids”

  1. The danger is not the drugs…

    It is the fame, and the money…

    And, with that, what is the answer?

    Personally, the father goes into jail for life.

    The child/athlete is banned from any sport for life.

    reff (99666d)

  2. And, before anyone asks…yes, the child suffers for the sins of the father….there has to be a price for the fame and the money…and a penalty warning to all that there will be a severe price for the violations….

    And, yes, it should be the same for pro sports as we know them….that’s how it is right now in professional Track and Field….make it that way at all levels…

    reff (99666d)

  3. Well, we do have a bunch of “libertarians” who think that all drugs, except antibiotics, should be prescription-free. Why not antibiotics? I kid you not, “because they might be abused” creating more antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

    nk (a07608)

  4. nk, I understand your point….and I’m not in favor of legalizing most illegal drugs…I’m more in favor of the penalties for abuse being much more severe in cases like these where the drugs are used to gain fame/money. The fines, for example, should be comparable to the money gained by the person involved. The jail time should reflect how long the person gained from the abuse. And, with lifetime bans, there is no second chances. But, what do we have now? Shawn Merriman (I’m watching the Chargers play, so he comes to mind) gets four games for a positive test, and makes millions. He cheated, he gained, paid a small price, and moved on. Still playing-still gaining. The players will never give that much power away, and the reasons can only be that too many of them are afraid of the consequence.

    I love sports, nearly all of them. The grace, power, intensity…I miss my time in sports. But, we will lose all of that if we don’t get this part under better control. And, it will have to come from the leagues and the players; the government doesn’t belong in the business.

    reff (99666d)

  5. I’m wondering where the outrage about steroid use by cops is.

    Surely, if it is bad that entertainers might influence our children or malign the purity of the sport, state actors who are widely seen as role models, not to mention, you know, enforce the law, should be held to at least the same standard?

    fishbane (fbe4d4)

  6. fishbane…while I will freely accept that it is happening…

    From your link:

    Unknown but clearly significant numbers of policemen have imported, smuggled, sold, and used anabolic steroids over this time period. According to an article that appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin in 1991: “Anabolic steroid abuse by police officers is a serious problem that merits greater awareness by departments across the country.” (1) In 2003 another expert offered a similar assessment. Little research has been done on the use of steroids by police, said Larry Gaines, former executive director of the Kentucky Chiefs of Police Association. “But I think it’s a larger problem than people think.”.(2)

    Right off the bat, in the article, we have statements of opinion, starting with the word UNKNOWN.

    Of course law enforcement should be held to the same, if not a higher, standard. But, while the problem exists, if the numbers are UNKNOWN then for it to be as bad as we are supposed to think, shouldn’t there be some KNOWLEDGE of the existance of the problem?

    reff (99666d)

  7. As I read it, yes, I know they are saying that “significant” numbers are there, but, respectfully, how can “unknown” and “but clearly significant” be used in the same sentence. This is clearly a contradiction in terms. The last line: “but I think it’s a larger problem than people think.” Again, an opinion statement, and clearly something that needs to be answered by the facts…

    Where are the facts? Does the problem exist, if so, in what way? One is too many, but, for the problem to be severe, show it.

    reff (99666d)

  8. This is old news to me. It seems to me that the use of performance-enhancing drugs by kids was just basically ignored until the pros were caught. I personally overheard high schools kids discussing the use of steroids by them and others in local high school sports in the early 1980’s in rural NE PA. I was amazed at the casual nature of the conversation at the time and the feeling I got from the discussion was that it was OK and common.

    Obviously, what I overheard from 3 kids would not be evidence of a nationwide problem or even something that would get any attention in a very competitive sports minded region’s population, but if kids in a conservative, poor, rural environment felt that way it was hard not to believe that the more affluent and permissive portions of America didn’t have a problem with performance-enhancing drugs.

    amr (d671ab)

  9. Sure, Reff. I don’t disagree at all (probably a semantic issue, but I fail to see how the word “unknown” qualifies as an opinion – it is a statement of fact that is either true or not).

    And part of the way to find out is to raise awareness of the problem, so that empiric studies can get off the ground.

    If you’re actually interested in the topic, there’s a blogger who keeps an eye on this sort of thing (isn’t there always?), with a somewhat Texas-centric viewpoint.

    Here’s a great starting article. A recent media article on the problem. I’m not going to link-dump, but a bit of googling will demonstrate that it is pretty widespread, and has been known to be an issue for at least 17 years, which was when the FBI commented on the problem.

    fishbane (fbe4d4)

  10. I thought steroid use shrunk “the boys.” What teenage kid wants that?

    tired (48ae93)

  11. but, respectfully, how can “unknown” and “but clearly significant” be used in the same sentence. This is clearly a contradiction in terms.

    No, it isn’t. If you purchase a book by an author you like, you have an unknown but clearly significant chance of enjoying it. There are an unknown but clearly significant number of politicians who have broken laws.

    Further, there are an unknown but clearly significant number of kids who have taken steroids (I’ve seen figures putting it at ~2.5%, which I have some trouble believing, but maybe that’s because I’m now more than twice the age of when I got out of high school, and don’t know about the kids these days.)

    fishbane (fbe4d4)

  12. I don’t think news about anabolics has been ignored in either the hs or medical community.But it was
    1)hard to police.I think a lot of the parents knew the kids were doing it.
    and 2)Unless the child was under 18,even with the parents consent,we couldn’t test.I recall a parent asking my opinion of whether his son was on ‘steroids’.Ans “Yes”Can you secretly test him and say we’re looking for a uti or something?ans”No”
    and guys,this stuff has very marked,quick and noticeable performance enhancing effects.it’s hard to believe the coaches don’t know about it.
    One final note.As a prelude,I’ll say I’m an MD who knows a lot about endo,bit isn’t an endocrinologist.That means every endo in the country has an opinion that is more valuble than mine in this.
    Someone not on anabolics can’t win a contest with someone on them.
    Parick will tell you(I think),it’s the risk of punishment,not the severity that is most influential re deterrence.There’s very little risk of being caught at the non pro level/

    corwin (de52ef)

  13. In the article, Corey said that seeing well-known sports figures (pro wrestlers) who took steroids reinforced his father’s advice that this was an accepted and reasonable practice for aspiring professional athletes. I suspect that seeing professional athletes publicly punished for steroid use will similarly affect young athletes’ beliefs about whether steroids are a good idea.

    DRJ (517d26)

  14. fishbane, thanks for the discussion….I did review your links, and saw the same type of opinionated statements and lack of facts behind the “evidence” of abuse that we’ve been discussing here on the NYT article about vets and murder rates. There are millions of officers around the country, and in your links we learned about around 15 or so that use steriods. We had a police psyc that said a 25 percent number, with no background on the statement. We saw all sorts of opinion.

    Now, I’m totally against steriods, and I hope that they all get caught. Here in my area, the local sheriff disbanded his SWAT taskforce when he learned that several were doing steriods and got caught. There is always the chance he was looking the other way, and while I hope it is not true, it is not an unbelieveable thought. However, all of that simply means that a select few are involved, and sometimes they do the wrong things, and then they get caught. Not a whole lot different than cops who take bribes, or use the threat of their badge to gain sexual favors.

    And, I don’t have a problem with testing them, either. Would do the public good to know their officers are clean.

    Finally, on the semantics issue: unknown and clearly significant when talking about the exact same thing is OBVIOUSLY a contradiction. How can something be unknown and be “clearly significant,” meaning KNOWN, at the same time? And, unknown may be a fact, as you say, but doesn’t “unknown” and “clearly significant” used in the same sentence represent a LIE? If something is “unknown” it cannot be then “known” as clearly significant, can it?

    As for the idea that unknown numbers are able to then give a 2-5 percent value…2-5 percent of the kids in America…2-5 percent of a population of 60-80 MILLION is not a significant number…it means that 55-75 MILLION don’t, right?

    reff (99666d)

  15. And, again, I hope they all get caught, all put in jail, all fined, and all lose significant value to their lives if they use steriods.

    reff (99666d)

  16. Why havnt they banned sterioids yet their dangerous

    krazy kagu (1b5cd8)

  17. Oh yes, let’s expand the scope of the War on (Some) Drugs to include athletic training. Because it’s been such a roaring success. By all means, go ahead. I’m sure the results will be just as positive as what we’ve seen with our “war” on other substances.

    And is there anybody out there who honestly believes that the kid mentioned in the article will now be better off with his father behind bars? What’s worse for the family, the son taking a substance that may or may not be bad for his health at some point, or sticking dad in federal prison for six years?

    CTD (27ea98)

  18. There are millions of officers around the country, and in your links we learned about around 15 or so that use steriods. We had a police psyc that said a 25 percent number, with no background on the statement. We saw all sorts of opinion.

    Thanks, Reff, for being reasonable, even if we disagree.

    This isn’t even one of my personal hot buttons – I just wanted to contrast what I see as some hyperventilation over entertainment figures vs. real security concerns.

    You’re right, nobody’s done a comprehensive study of steroid abuse by cops. I’m not in a career that would allow me to do so. I do wish someone would though. Not only is the prospect of a confrontation with a hepped up cop more scary to me than the prospect of my kid idolizing a ball player, the idea that cops are taking illegal drugs to more efficiently bust people who take illegal drugs deeply offends me.

    fishbane (fbe4d4)

  19. CTD, I do believe that the kid is better off with his father behind bars…

    What is the alternative, especially since the father is the one who was sticking the needle in him, trying to kill him in the name of athletic success???

    fishbane…again, thanks to you too….as I’ve said here, put them all away when steriods are involved….and yes, I’d like to see mandatory drug testing for police officers, and an semi-annual review of their alcohol intake too, and not just for the sake of the public, but for the welfare of the officers….their job is easily the most dangerous in our nation, IMO, especially when you consider that every morning/evening they go on shift could mean their lives are coming to an end, so protecting them is cost-conscious in my eyes….as well as what you say, that the cops should be above reproach when dealing (no pun intended) with drugs and users/abusers…

    reff (99666d)

  20. CTD, I do believe that the kid is better off with his father behind bars

    As someone whose father IS behind bars, let me say you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    What is the alternative, especially since the father is the one who was sticking the needle in him, trying to kill him in the name of athletic success???

    This type of overblown rhetoric is not helpful. What is the honest, scientifically supportable link between steroids and death? Anyone? Why would it not be an acceptable punishment merely to ban this kid from the sport?

    Linus (d3ecc2)

  21. The dad was a rat too.
    Meanwhile, Jim entered a business partnership with Miller to offer laser hair-removal treatments. The two had a falling out in April 2003, however, and Jim set up his own business in Orlando selling anti-aging drugs, including testosterone and human growth hormone. But first he blew the whistle on Miller, alerting the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office that Miller’s clinic was a front for illegal steroid distribution and that Miller was providing performance-enhancing drugs to a minor — Corey.

    hazy (c36902)

  22. “Several hundred thousand young Americans are using steroids; it’s an alarming figure,”

    A figure obviously pulled outta someone’s ass!

    “Anabolic steroid abuse by police officers is a serious problem that merits greater awareness by departments across the country.”

    Such is something every citizen should be shocked by, but aren’t even concerned with! And neither is the MSM!

    Has anybody bothered to notice that all the hoopla and indictments are for “LYING TO THE FEDS” and NOT for the the taking of any substances? Evidently the substances themselves are not so damaging? I propose that we place 100% of all politicos and bureaucrats the exact same responsibilities to the citizens. Every day and if called upon their fiction, they can await a trial in jail!

    Folks, HGH and roids are used by many Dr.’s across the nation daily and they are an aid to healing. For a variety of minor to serious injuries. Including those encountered in the participation of sporting events!

    I graduated in 71, nobody on our football team even knew what a weight room was, but many were taking “supplements” to aid in bulking up. I’ve no idea at all what was in those supps, then or even today. In today’s HS programs you are doing both, and by gawd you can bet those kids know nothing about what might be in those supplements either. My gawd we would have been like total monsters had we all been partaking and using a body building regime as well.

    Many folks desire to see and end to the TOTALLY FAILED WAR ON DRUGS, for a variety of reasons as well. First might be is it’s FAILED, and costs much more in lost dollars than it can ever reconcile vs legalization and taxing such.

    As well it’s probably the single most responsible source for meth and all of it’s associated perils upon any society.

    TC (1cf350)

  23. Wait, we should keep steroids illegal because kids might use them and if they did they’d go to jail? The worst thing that happened to the kid in your example is what the government did to his dad. I don’t think it supports your point. Now, there are lots of kids hoping to win the pro-sports lottery today. (okay it’s not really a lottery but it’s a decent analogy) If Steroids were illegal it’s reasonable to assume that 14-22 year olds would use them to be more competitive. That’s a much better argument. Your example, not so much.

    joe (c0e4f8)

  24. NK, the idea is that my use of, say, cocaine would have *no* effect on you. My use of antibiotics, on the other hand, could bread antibiotic-resistant bugs that could kill you.

    Surely the distinction between the two is obvious?

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  25. breed, even. i’m not entirely sure how one breads a bacterium.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  26. Linus, my prayers for you and your father….

    As I stated above, the kid should be bannned for life from all professional sports, or something similar….

    Yes, his father was trying to KILL HIM, as shown by the rare deaths related to steriod use. I don’t agree that this is overblown rhetoric. I do believe that the penalties for improper steriod use should be as severe as possible. There is probably very little research into the effects of abuse of steriods in youths because it is not used in youths except in the rarest of occasions. However, there is research into the abuse in general, and I believe the accepted result of that is that death is a distinct possibility when steriods are abused. No, it is not a common result, but, severe health problems are a common result, some of which lead to death, and that too is just as bad for a father to be doing to a son.

    Finally, Linus, your father being in jail: was he trying to destroy your life? If so, how are you not safer if he is there? If not, you will suffer tremendous personal pain, but you will probably survive his journey. The child whose father was trying to kill his son, destroy his life with steriods didn’t have a father in his life, so, removing him from the child makes the child safer, and jail protects the child.

    reff (99666d)

  27. I find it significant that we don’t try and address the core issue of all drug abuse- demand. High salaries, adulation, social status all come from being a “Pro” athlete. Why do we do this? We must try and enforce some sort of sanity in our entertainment expenditure!
    Each and every fan who spends 100’s on tickets, pay per view and sports jerseys ad nauseum lend credence to the faulty mind set of sports worship. Not to say all sports figures are cheaters, but when there is a rare occurrence of decency and honor (a la Cal Ripken jr.) Sports addicts wax poetic about the virtue of sport. Crap, sport just got lucky in that instance.
    Why are ‘celebrities’ so whacked ? Too much money and not enough responsibility, that’s why!. When faced with the fact that there is someone bigger, faster or stronger than they are, they cheat. And grown, educated and successful men and women dote on these guys. It is not “What’s wrong with sport?” rather it’s what’s wrong with the people (foolish in my view) who throw so much money at the sportsmen.
    But you (and I can safely say ‘you’ as I don’t watch, know about or care about pro sports-any of them-) all will simply shake your heads gravely as you throw more and more money at these dysfunctional organizations.

    paul from fl (47918a)

  28. i’m not entirely sure how one breads a bacterium.

    It has to be moldy bread. Molds kill bacteria. Weren’t they the first generation of antibiotics?

    nk (a07608)

  29. “his father was trying to KILL HIM”

    I haven’t seen anything to support the claim that he was trying to kill him. I think it’s clear that he was helping him risk his life. How does the risk of death from steroid use compare to the risk from car travel/other activities?

    But saying that he was trying to kill him implies that the father intended his son’s death. you haven’t shown that.

    joe (c0e4f8)

  30. NK, the idea is that my use of, say, cocaine would have *no* effect on you. My use of antibiotics, on the other hand, could bread antibiotic-resistant bugs that could kill you.

    Surely the distinction between the two is obvious?

    Believe me, when I drive through the West Side of Chicago without stopping at red lights it is not because I worry about contracting an MRSA. It is because I worry about some crackhead smashing through my car’s window to rob me for his hourly fix.

    (Yes, I know, if we made crack legal and taxed it, every crackhead would become a law-abiding, productive member of society, young people would never be introduced to it, and we could end the income tax and go back on the gold standard.)

    nk (a07608)

  31. Joe: intended, no.

    Would his father’s actions led to the son’s death?

    Yes, it could easily have done so, through health related issues, or psychological issues. Both, while I freely admit are rare, are actual results.

    Intent follows the bullet. The bullet in this case is steriods, and the abuse of them. The father intended the abuse, encouraged it, required it.

    reff (99666d)

  32. Still, the worst thing that happened in that examples was that the dad went to jail. Not a good example of the dangers of steroids.

    joe (c0e4f8)

  33. Also, if an outcome is ‘rare’ why do you say it could easily have happened?

    joe (c0e4f8)

  34. Joe, you are probably right, that the worst thing that seemed to happen was jail time for the father.

    As for rare, but easy to happen, relating to deaths/damage from abuse of steriods, since deaths have happened, and they are rare, what is your question again?

    reff (99666d)


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