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Friday 19, Dec 2008

  Mike Bell, brother of steroid documentary writer/director Chris Bell, dies at 37

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bsf-steroids“Mad Dog” Mike Bell, brother of Chris Bell, writer/director of the highly acclaimed steroid documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster*, dies at 37. The cause of death is yet undetermined as results of a toxicology report are still pending, according to Poughkeepsie Journal.

Mike was a former pro wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment and Extreme Championships Wrestling. He was also a football captain at Arlington and also played at the University of Cincinnati on scholarship.

Mike and the whole Bell family – brothers Mark and Chris, and parents Rosemary and Sheldon – were featured in the steroid documentary which tackled anabolic steroid use within the family as well as in American sports.  The film world premiered in January at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and garnered great reviews.

It was through the film that the public had come to know of Mad Dog’s problems with recreational drugs and alcohol. Prior to his death, he had attempted to stay sober according to Chris. Mike had been living at a sober community in Orange County, Calif., at the time of his death.

“He had decided it was time to clean up his act,” Chris Bell said. “He was 60 days clean and sober and that was a first for him. For our family, it was a big accomplishment for him.”

Monday 10, Nov 2008

  Steroid testing in high school a flop; steroid documentary can be a blockbuster

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Congress, steroids, baseballSteroid testing program implemented in some high schools in the country have been under constant debate. Supporters say the program is a deterrent; the naysayers say it’s just a waste of taxpayers’ money.

And it seems Florida, one of the only four states which adopted the mandatory testing, is leaning towards the naysayers’ side as it decided not to fund its steroid testing program this school year. The reason? Poor ROI.

Last school year, Florida has nabbed one violator among 600 high school athletes and the state has to shell out $100,000 for that lone ranger. The states of New Jersey and Texas yielded basically the same result, with one and two violators caught in each state respectively. Texas had spent a whopping $3 million to test 10,000 subjects and came up with only two positive tests. And with the financial crisis as a backdrop, it is possible that these two states may take the swing Florida has taken. Illinois, however, is planning to take up arms against steroid users as it opts to test for its athletes this year.

Less costly alternatives for such testing are being bandied about, including steroid documentary or heart-to-heart talk with teachers and coaches. From Washington Post:

So the best way, financially and otherwise, to ward off steroid use among teen athletes is probably through parents and coaches — and the old-fashioned approach that Arlington County physical education teacher Rocky Belk and Arlington physician Ben Pearl took last week.

They met with about 60 high school students from Sheila Napala’s physical therapy and sports medicine classes at the Arlington Career Center to discuss steroids and the 2008 documentary the students had watched, “Bigger Stronger Faster*.”

“We heard a lot about Barry Bonds and baseball players through [the congressional hearings], but we found that [steroid use] really has to do with wanting to be somebody special,” Pearl said of his research. “A lot of us are trying to get somewhere because we’re not happy with ourselves. We’re not comfortable in our own skin, being what we are.”

When Pearl asked how many students had used steroids or would admit to using them, no hands went up. But if the three athletes whom Varsity spoke to after the presentation are any indication, steroids are a prevalent topic.

The Washington Post report acknowledges the costly testing programs can be deterrent but it points out the loopholes of said programs. It says they only test for certain steroids and for only a number of athletes (proportionally speaking).

Young athletes can also find ways to avoid detection and, lastly, the fact that steroids work can be a strong lure for young athletes despite of the consequences of being tested positive for these prohibited substances.

After all, many young people drink and smoke, so when they buy steroids,that’s the last worry that should be on the governments’ mind.  They should be concerned with kids having brain damange /liver damage from alcoholism and lung damage from smoking.

Thursday 09, Oct 2008

  Another rave review for steroid documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster

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biggerstrongerfasterThe highly acclaimed documentary ‘Bigger, Stronger, Faster’, which has the famous tagline ‘Is it still cheating if everyone’s doing it?’, is now available in DVD. And this thought provoking film, written and directed by Christopher Bell, receives yet another thumbs-up critique. From EDGE Boston:

“Bigger, Stronger, Faster” is as good as documentary filmmaking gets. It cuts deep to the marrow of American society without telling you what to think. Bell links cheating with winning and winning with America. His brilliant footage from the opening scene of “Patton” seems so eerily prophetic — underscoring the story about American’s drive to win at all costs. Did we ever think footage of Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and Mark McGwire would sync up with political speeches from George W. Bush (former part-owner of Major League Baseball team the Texas Rangers) and Schwarzenegger (an admitted user of steroids) with so much irony? These indeed are strange days. Bell might not even have answers: his catalyst for shooting the doc seems to be his drive for someone to tell him what happened to his childhood heroes? And moreover, is there still such a thing?

‘Bigger, Stronger, Faster*’ is not only about the use of anabolic steroids in sports. It forces the viewers to have a critical look on the overall social, cultural and moral fabric of Americans.

Why is it illegal to use anabolic steroids to improve athletic performance but not laser eye correction to heighten the visual acuity of such sports celebrities like Tiger Woods? Why is not there a standard guideline in what is considered to be cheating in American sports? Such questions are being pushed to the core by Bell’s film.

This documentary world premiered on January 19 at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. On April, it was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and opened in limited release in the US on May 30.

The * on the title, by the way, signifies how athletes who are found guilty of using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs have their career records marked by an asterisk.