Steroid Use: Hitting Closer to Home
Olympic scandals spotlight performance-enhancing drugs as number of kids using them grows.
How Widespread Is Doping?
Some say the performance-enhancing drug use is widespread
throughout professional sports and elite athletic competitions. The recent
allegations in the ongoing BALCO scandal (involving charges against four of
America's most-beloved track-and-field stars) are just the tip of the iceberg,
"This canard that there are only a few bad apples in the barrel
is a subterfuge perpetrated by sports organizations. I've always argued that in
many sports there are only a few good apples, and that the majority of
athletes do drugs," he says. "Doping in sport is as big a secret as the army
Jeep is a secret weapon. Anybody in sports knows about it. It has been epidemic
since the last quarter of the 19th century. It is not debatable, it is a fact:
Drug use cuts across all sports."
Others maintain that it's a relatively small number cheaters
who give sports a bad name.
"Our view on that is the vast majority of athletes are clean,"
Khadem says. "It would be very discouraging to think this is systematic and
everyone is doing it. It has always been there, it may always have been there.
But the more people realize this is not right, the more I think people will be
inclined to fight it."
Yesalis says athletes take dope because fans are addicted to
"The frustration is this is not going to change because fans
don't care," he says. "I think what people are looking for is bigger-than-life
people doing bigger-than-life things. Performance-enhancing drugs facilitate
that. And that has made these sports and their federations multimillion-dollar
Roberts, however, says athletes and sports associations must
"I have a hard time blaming the public. A lot of the public
really doesn't understand how much drug use there is," he says. "It's like
fighting in hockey. The NHL thinks they need fighting to draw the fans. But it
is already a good, clean, fast sport with a lot of excitement. If you assume
you need fighting, and don't change the rules to make fighting disappear, is
the public to blame?"