PED Disconnect: Holding the Mirror to Ourselves

Last week I was interviewed in regard to ethics and PEDs. I am ethically against them, but we can save that conversation for another time.

HGHLater the day of the interview, a woman reached out to me on the social media and said that it was a silly argument as the “pharmaceutical industry” had taken over sports and that everyone who plays sports cheats. She admitted she did not like sports or professional athletes in general.

I thought a great deal about the interview and the comments above. Something was just not right. Then it hit me. As a society, we view athletes and us fans as “them and us.” For example, “They take too many PEDs,” or “They abuse supplements.” What about “us” in regard to this argument? Where do we fit in?

First, here are some facts to consider:

  • The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates that 80 percent of PEDs and illegal supplementation are used by non-elite athletes.
  • The latest statistics on the topic of PEDs and teens (as stated by the prestigious Mayo Clinic) states that about one in 20 teenagers are taking illegal performance drugs.
  • In 2012, sales of testosterone were about $2 billion and by 2017 sales of testosterone will double.
  • In 2005, American consumers spent $20.3 billion on over-the-counter supplements; by 2011 it climbed to nearly $30 billion, with 12 percent of that specifically spent on sports related supplementation. The industry continues to grow at about 3 percent annually.

Points of order

Not only is the majority of PED use and supplementation done by non-elite athletes and those chasing the elusive Fountain of Youth, most of the supplements don’t work and many are dangerous.

There are strange partnerships at work in the PED dynamic bringing together the supplement manufacturers, natural products industry, junk science, popular culture and greed. Unfortunately, far too many Americans are buying into it despite the warnings.

Each time a new “natural supplement” emerges on the scene, people flock to it. Virtually every time the supplement is tested under a rigorous scientific investigation, it fails or it is found to be dangerous. It is also a predictable scenario, that whenever a beloved supplement fails, there is a firestorm against big, bad Pharma and the “medical establishment.”

The truth? The truth is that most of this stuff doesn’t work or is bad for us. Whether we are talking about something as benign as Echinacea or Vitamin E or as dangerous as Anabolic steroids and “off-label” HGH usage, these “treatments” are often proven to be bad for us, but the strange partnerships I referred to earlier won’t accept the findings as truth.

Even so-called “Low-T” or low testosterone is a controversial topic. Everything rational I have read on the topic states that most men don’t need supplementation and that it can be dangerous if abused. Companies selling testosterone in different forms never get around to discussing the dangers of supplementation, only the “iffy” benefits.

Aspirational Society

If we have a beef against the pharmaceutical industry or “labs” selling concoctions to athletes, we had all damn well begin to turn the spotlight on “ourselves” to allow real change.

Yes, I know that kids are getting bigger, earlier, but a high school junior who shows up “ripped” for the first football practice with a 50 pound weight gain over the summer should be open to suspicion. However – and just as important – who is supplying him with the supplements?

PEDs and questionable supplements are being found in athletes as young as middle school; it is not only occurring, it is increasing. For example, according to Harvard University, illegal HGH supplementation may be found in 11 percent of high school students.

Where are the messages coming from?

There needs to be more awareness of where mega-doses of supplements and PEDs are leading our society. If a 12 year old boy watches his parents consume handfuls of supplements (legally obtained) and watches his dad pop testosterone and his mom smear on “anti-aging” creams and potions and who knows what else, why should the child be hesitant to buy illegal anabolic steroids or HGH?

I am not saying that the NFL is run by choir boys or that the players are as big as they are solely because of genetics, but if we think that athletes are fundamentally “different” from many of us, many of us need to look in our mirrors. Judgment in this case is not divinely inspired, but the failure of society to be honest with itself.


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