The weights clink together as they are lifted up onto the 35-pound bar. It is 10 a.m. and film study junior Chris Crandall, who is also an aspiring actor and model, as well as a member of both the cycling and Tae Kwon Do club teams at MSU, is doing his daily workout in the Wonders weight room.
“I really don’t know much about steroids. I’ve never had a desire to use them; I’ve never researched them,” said Crandall. “From what I do know of steroids and the people who use them, I’ve tried to draw a conclusion. As I’ve begun to actually ponder the topic of steroids, my opinion of them has begun to change. I am coming to believe that steroids can be used responsibly and ethically.”
The most iconic user of anabolic steroids is likely former actor and current governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger won the prestigious Mr. Olympia bodybuilding every year from 1974 to 1980, preparing him well for his prestigious acting career. Ahhnold now fights against their usage in competitive bodybuilding, but does not regret having used them in the past.
“I believe that he already maxed out his genetic potential and then used steroids for the extra bonus,” Chris Crandall says. “I believe Arnold is an excellent example of ethical use of steroids.”
[steroidssquat] Major League Baseball’s Jose Canseco released Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big in May. The book describes how he and five other former Texas Rangers players were using steroids in the 1990s. Many sports fanatics are already critical of steroids use after Roger Maris’ 1961 record of making 61 home runs in one season was broken by Mark McGwire in 1998, with 70 home runs. Just three years later, Barry Bonds broke all of those records in 2001 with 73 home runs. Other players such as Brady Anderson, Ken Caminiti, Jason Giambi and Rafael Palmeiro have all been labeled as known steroid users, and Bonds, Sosa, McGwire and Ivan Rodriguez have all been suspected of abusing the drug.
“It’s just a bad situation overall. Not only did they jeopardize the integrity of the game by using steroids, they forever marred their legacies,” said John Krcatovich, a junior biochemistry major and lifelong baseball fan. “Most of the alleged and known steroid users had already established very productive careers, and now fans will be left wondering how much of their success can be attributed to performance-enhancing drugs. Their accomplishments and records are forever tainted, and they gave a black eye to Major League Baseball. I feel sorry for those players that they could show such poor judgment.”
If the professionals use them, what’s going to stop Spartans athletes from shooting up? Well, in spite of the lack of media attention on colligate drug usage (unless you are former-ambiguous-substance-abuser Jeff Smoker), the National Colligate Athletic Association is supposed to keep tabs on all MSU athletes. According to bylaw 126.96.36.199 of the NCAA rules and regulations, any student under a second offense will lose all regular and post-season eligibility for all sports. That does not tend to sit well in the stomachs of the scouts who are looking at athletes for professional league drafts.
Not to mention that the side effects read worse than prescription drug commercials. Liver tumors, cancer, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, kidney tumors, severe acne, trembling, aggressive tendencies, psychiatric instability, insomnia, male-pattern baldness, decreased sperm count or infertility in males, shrinking of testicles, gynecomastia (male breasts), enlargement of the clitoris, prostate cancer, etc. Schwarzenegger has been suffering heart problems due to his bicuspid aortic valve (most people have a tricuspid) not being able to handle the effects of the steroids combined with his aging.
Despite these dangers, many people still use the drug. “I think pressure drives most people,” says senior finance major and soccer player Stacie Perkins. “Pressure to perform up to someone else’s expectations. Pressure from parents or coaches or other players.”
There are two types of steroids that can be (ab)used. Anabolic steroids are those that people know best, which increase muscle mass, whereas androgenic steroids are basically testosterone enhancers. These can both be used for a number of practical reasons, but, according to studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, overdosing the anabolic type can cause serious and irreversible health problems (again, male breasts).
In spite of the multitude of health problems, about 40-precent of 17-year olds in 2002 (according to NIDA) believed that there was relatively no risk in using such anabolic or androgenic steroids. The subject is not covered in many middle or high school health education classes, so students never find out. As college students, many now have lower metabolisms (which result in changes in body weight). Steroids are sometimes considered as an option to lose weight (even though muscles weigh more than fat) and tone or gain muscle, risks set aside.
It remains easy, however, to build yourself up using steroids. Through processes called “cycling” and “stacking,” athletes and others beef themselves up with excessive dosages. Cycling is the process of taking steroids for a period of time, stopping for a while, starting back up and continuing shifting back and forth. Stacking is the use of several different types or brands of steroids at once to maximize the desired result while minimizing the negative side effects that are always attached. For anyone already under a training regimen, this would not be much harder to add into the rotation.
“If [people] weren’t meant to be a certain way or if they didn’t work hard enough then they shouldn’t just take some drugs and then be better,” Perkins said. “I think if you are out to compete you should be showing off your talents, not talents you got from some drug.”
A much healthier alternative to bulking up with steroids would be a steady carb-specific diet with a little meat, fruit and vegetables on the side. By consuming low-glycemic carbohydrates such as cereal or spaghetti before a muscular workout and high-glycemic carbs such as fruits, potatoes or white bread afterwards, one can maximize their muscle gain and also keep a healthy level of energy throughout the day. Also, adding a touch of dairy (whole milk is also a low-glycemic carb) and hence calcium, can help strengthen bones during the process of the overall body conditioning. Protein is also an important and useful factor in muscle development, and does not pose any danger unless over 900 grams of protein are consumed in a single day.
Stacker pills are also called the “world’s strongest fat burner” in countless hoaky commercials, but what is not advertised is the similar list of side effects which include heart attacks, stroke, tachycardia (rapid heart beat), paranoid psychosis, depression, convulsions, comas, fever, vomiting, palpitations, hypertension, respiratory depression and even death. The reason behind these side effects lies in the drug ephedrine, which is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system to relax bronchial tubes. Over-the-counter drugs such as Sudafed and Actifed use synthetic forms of ephedrine, which are not a health risk when compared to Stacker products.
Steroid usage can be a very dangerous thing that should be left to health professionals to administer when dealing with people who have defective growth hormones. Not only is it dangerous and unhealthy, it is also illegal in most cases. And just because Ahhnold did it, doesn’t mean that you should.
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