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Steroids and the NFL

Steroid use the the National Football League
July Newsletter Issue 1


Steroids and the NFL
by: iSteroids
Steroids are commonly used by bodybuilders and athletes of all levels. You will find steroids in High School sports, steroids in baseball, steroids in football, and, of course, steroids in the Olympics. All these sports, and many many more, use anabolic steroids in one form or another. DO NOT be fooled into thinking that any NFL players are natural and steroid free. Even retired NFL players admit that at least 70% of their team was using human growth hormone (HGH)!

In 1989, the NFL added steroids to the list of drugs that it tested players for and could hand out punishments for. It has gone through some changes, but the real question is whether or not it works to deter players from actually using the drugs to help advance their athletic ability and, consequently, their careers.

The original policy stated that any player who tested positive for steroid use would be suspended for thirty days as well as subjected to further testing. Players found to have a second positive test were to be suspended for the remainder of the season and playoff games.

This steroid-use policy was seen as fairly strict, but the agreement on how it was to be carried out didn’t stop there. Some supporters of the policy wanted to be able to do random tests year round while others only wanted tests throughout the season.

It’s very easy to use steroids in such a manner that the user can avoid detection if they know when they will be tested. It’s simply a matter of knowing the specific drug and knowing when to stop so that it can get out of the system by the test date. Plus, because the players that choose to use steroids know how and when to stop to make sure the traces of the drugs are out of their system by the time the test rolls around, it’s very difficult to know exactly how many players actually use steroids. In 1989, estimates ranged from six to fifty percent. The six percent is the number of players who have actually tested positive. The fifty percent comes from players’ observation saying that about half of the players have used steroids at some point in their lives. This is the biggest argument as to why some people wanted to do random year-round tests.

At the time, the Players’ Association was only agreeable to a test in the preseason. They claimed this to be a violation of their rights. Proponents of the random year-round testing disagreed and used the analogy that all sports have rules and regulations such as baseball’s rule that players are not allowed to have cork in their bats. The bats can be randomly tested for cork. They say that if the NFL says the players cannot use drugs to give them an advantage then they should be able to be tested for drug use.

By 2003, the drug policy had evolved to a 4 game suspension on the first offense, a six game suspension on the second offence and a one-year suspension for the third offense. Each week, random players tested – six players from each team are tested each week. They are chosen at random through a computer program. The random tests look for both steroids and masking agents.

Of course, this policy isn’t fool-proof. The 2004 Super Bowl is a prime example. Three players on the Carolina Panthers were found to have repeatedly filled prescriptions for steroids yet they never tested positive for steroid use. Supposedly, these prescriptions were for doses much higher than that generally used for testosterone replacement therapy.

So, even though the policies are there and are very strong, steroid use in the NFL is still present. When you have something that can give you such great physical benefits, it’s easy to see why the players are finding ways to use them. And, when some players use steroids they raise the competitive edge enough to possibly even convince those players who are on the line about steroid use to take the plunge and actually try it to save their careers and keep up in an ever increasingly competitive sports.

Sources:
Collinswort, Cris. “The Best Policy: NFL’s Drug Testing.” www.nfl.com.
Eskenazi, Gerald. “Taking a Stance Against Steroids in the NFL.” The New York Times. 24 August 1989.
“Steroids Prescribed to NFL Players.” 60 Minutes. 30 March 2005.
Shea, John. “Bush Calls for Pro Sports to End Use of Steroids.” San Francisco Chronicle. www.sfonline.com.
“Steroids: Play Safe, Play Fair.” American Academy of Pediatrics. www.aap.org.
* Steroids in Baseball and Sports. Ezine Article. Steroids in Baseball and Sports.

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