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Steroids in Sports: Questions Answered

Get Answers to 16 Questions About Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Baseball and Other Sports
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And what do they do for pitchers?

If you're using an anabolic steroid, you build strength. But many of the pitchers take with it growth hormone. The reason they use the growth hormone is growth hormone builds your muscle bulk out of proportion to your strength.

Now, if I'm going to be a pitcher and I'm going to throw, what I would like to be able to do is make the batter think that fundamentally, my ball is going to come slightly faster. In other words, the batter looks at your size, looks at the speed that you seem to be moving your arm, and makes a calculation about how fast the ball will get there. This is all done sort of without thinking about it but that's what they do. And if I take growth hormone, my arm looks bigger, so the batter thinks the ball's going to get there faster and so therefore he commits a little earlier, so you're more likely to strike out.

How much do they enhance performance? Are we talking about a tiny edge?

You're not going to take somebody like me and make me, when I was younger, into a professional baseball player. This is somebody who's already there and you give them the 1% enhancement.

The best way to look at that is if you look at the world records for the 1 mile from 1880 through to the modern day. They improved by about 1% every four years. So if I can improve your performance by 1%, I put you four years ahead of everybody else. So if you're not quite that good, I put you as good as everybody else. If you're really good, I put you four years ahead of where the rest of the people are going to be with modern training methods and so on.

Amphetamines do the same thing for focus.

What are some of the side effects for adult players?

This is the question. We don't really know. Obviously, people don't admit and we haven't been able to follow people taking steroids over a long period of time. The potential of liver damage is clearly one of those [risks], because steroids have a first pass through the liver. In addition ... there's a question of whether it would increase neoplastic disease [cancer], either in the prostate or in other parts of the body.

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