I'm not going to form an opinion as to whether or not the people Landis has accused used performance enhancing drugs or not. In all frankness, I don't have an opinion on it today, and I'm not about to start. Sure a few years ago I may have had an opinion, but whichever side I had chosen, I've forgotten now, because my opinion just didn't matter then. It doesn't matter now either. The only opinion that I get to have is which sports I choose to tune into, and the good news for sports in many forms, I am still choosing to 'opt-in'.
The reason I say my opinion doesn't matter is that I'm not a race ref, organizer, manager, or financer, so I have no political, nor financial sway, in any judgments I cast. Similarly, I like cyclists, and as long as you're riding your bike, I don't care all that much about what you do on it, as long as you stay out of my way. (Yes, I'm referring to 'while on my bike', just to be clear. In my car, I'm happy to give cyclists space.) Forming an opinion on this only causes heartache for me, on one side or the other, and it wastes time that I could be spending watching other sports, like say, lushly-bearded, Stanley Cup hockey.
But the truth that I have taken notice of, is that performance enhancing drugs do bad things to you. In 1967, cyclist Tommy Simpson died of an amphetamine overdose during the Tour de France. That prompted the IOC to develop an official definition of doping, put together a list of banned drugs, and created a stinking Pandora's Box of testing and guilt that gets opened every three years or so.
We've seen this across the sporting world, though:
According to WebMd (I figured they would know something), McGwire's supplement of choice, androstenedione, "causes whopping increases" in the levels of the male hormone testosterone in the blood. Sounds pretty good, if you're already a dude, and McGwire sort of qualifies. But here's the crazy part:
Finklestein and colleagues from Harvard... studied the blood taken from healthy men given either 100 mg or 300 mg of androstenedione. At 100 mg, he says, there is no effect on blood levels of testosterone. But, even at the lower dose, androstenedione does affect the levels of estrone and estradiol. Both estrone and estradiol are potent forms of the female sex hormone estrogen, which is normally present only in minute quantities in men.
"Estradiol is so high it looks like these men are getting ready to ovulate," Finklestein says.
nah, this isn't about that. Suffice it to say, that I can't imagine these are good things if you're male. This does not even begin to discuss the effects on the genitalia (of either gender), and how steroids can confuse the external sexual attractiveness of the user. And what else is there in life, really?
That's just one example. There's also this bit from that same site:
- blood booster EPO, human growth hormone, and insulin. The full list covers nine pages. All are safe when used, as intended, to treat illness. None are safe when used to improve athletic performance.
EPO increases your red cell production. This is great if you're anemic, but if you're already healthy, it just turns you blood into maple syrup. Next time you're at IHOP, if you see someone slice a vein over their shortstack, don't just assume that it's a depressed cry for help, you may have encountered a doping athlete. (Either way, you should probably call the cops.) But Nine pages of drugs? Really? My brain hurts already. That's another negative effect for Performance Drugs.
So then, the WebMd list serves up a link for Why People Cheat. Okay, so I had pasted in a section about why college students 'borrow' essays from the web, but it felt a little weird, so you'll have to go to the actual link to learn more about copying and pasting material. What I understand from it, is that people cheat because they feel, somehow, inadequate. If you're not good enough, perhaps you should consider another field. (Yeah, I have a mirror. I am greatly entertained by this.)
So, if you want to prove to other people that you find yourself to be inadequate, then you should probably try a performance enhancing drug. Rest assured that after you've done so, you will in fact, be less adequate.
Which brings me to the 'nut' of the problem. Many performance enhancing drugs create negative impacts on the scrotal contents. Why create further abuse of these lowly creatures? The testicle (and it's many nicknames: nut, nutters, nards, sack, junk, gibblets, gonads, bollocks, teabags, family jewels, cojones, ...etc,) are the least appreciated of the sex organs. They are the first target, that any self-defense class teaches. They're completely unprotected and exposed. They're a step below hamsters in the evolutionary scale. They're not even very cute as far as small, furry creatures go.
But, as everyone who's heard the scientific version of the birds and bees legend knows, they also play a major role in this species' baby making process. And babies are lovable, even if they also are not very cute. Family Jewels may not get a lot of respect in our society, but the same is true of Playdoh. It turns out both feel good in your hand.
The one comment I haven't heard yet in all the flames across the web today is one that I will say here.
Please! Won't somebody think about the children?!!