Steroid use in American football

Steroid use in American football

The use of performance enhancing drugs in the sport of American football has been an ongoing issue since the late 1980s, especially in the National Football League (NFL). The NFL began to test players for steroid use during the 1987 season, and started to issue suspensions to players during the 1989 season. [cite web |url= |title= Steroids spotlight turns to football |accessdate=2008-05-02 |last= Gay |first= Nancy |coauthors= |date= October 27, 2006 |work= |publisher=San Francisco Chronicle] The NFL has issued as many as six random drug tests to players, with each player receiving at least one drug test per season.cite web |url= |title= FOOTBALL; N.F.L.'s Steroid Policy Too Lax, Doctor Warns |accessdate=2008-05-02 |last= Simth |first= Timothy |coauthors= |date= July 3, 1991 |work= |publisher=New York Times] One notable incident was when in 1992,when player Lyle Alzado died from brain cancer, which he attributed to the use of anabolic steroids, cite web|url= |title=Not the size of the dog in the fight |accessdate=2007-07-05 |last=Puma |first=Mike | |publisher=ESPN ] however, Alzado's doctors stated that anabolic steroids did not contribute to his death. [cite web|url= |publisher = | title=Real Sports, Lyle Alzado |accessdate = 2007-04-24]

The use of performance enhancing drugs has also been documented in other levels of football, including play at the college level, and even high school play.cite web |url= |title= NCAA athletes on the juice? |accessdate=2008-05-02 |last= Eggers |first= Kerry |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=Portland Tribune] The most recent figures from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football drug tests show that one percent of all NCAA football players failed drug tests taken at bowl games, and three percent have admitted to using steroids overall. In the NCAA, players are subject to random testing with 48 hours notice, and are also randomly tested throughout the annual bowl games. The NCAA will usually take approximately 20 percent of the players on a football team to test on a specific day.

Anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs are also used throughout high school football. Steroid use at this level of play doubled from 1991 to 2003, with results of a survey showed that about 6 percent of players out of the 15,000 surveyed had admitted to using some type of anabolic steroid or performance enhancing drug at one point in their playing time.cite web |url= |title= Fight against steroids gaining muscle in high school athletics |accessdate=2008-05-03 |last= Livingstone |first= Seth |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher= USA Today] Other data shows that only 4 percent of high schools have some form of drug testing programs in place for their football teams, which has resulted in many deaths from these drugs.

Use in the NFL

The use of performance enhancing drugs and anabolic steroids dates back to the late 1960s in the National Football League (NFL). Denver Broncos defensive lineman TJ Nathan Jones was a more notable early incident on the NFL. In the last years of his life, as he battled against the brain tumor that eventually caused his death at the age of 43, Alzado asserted that his steroid abuse directly led to his fatal illness, but his physician stated it could not possibly be true. According to some reports, Alzado was using natural growth hormone, harvested from human corpses, as opposed to synthetic growth hormones. However, shortly before his death, Alzado recounted his steroid abuse in an article in "Sports Illustrated". He said:

Another early incident was with the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty teams of the late 1970s and the early 1980s. In 2005, former Steelers player Jim Haslett, who was a star linebacker in the NFL in the 1980s, confessed to using steroids throughout his career.cite web |url= |title= Haslett says '70s Steelers made steroids popular in NFL |accessdate=2008-05-03 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= March 24, 2005 |work= |publisher= CBS SportsLine] Haslett stated that along with himself, the Pittsburgh steelers teams of the 1970s and 1980s used steroids to achieve dynasty status. He also said that this started an ongoing trend in the NFL. Steroid use was not officially banned in the NFL at the time, so Haslett stated that use was widespread and "rampant." He estimated that during the 1980s, half of the players in the league used some type of performance enhancing drug or steroid and all of the defensive lineman used them. One of the players from the Super Bowl winning 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers team confessed to using steroids before these statements, Steve Courson. Courson was another lineman for the Steelers, and admitted to using steroids before his death in 2005. He also blamed a heart condition that he had on steroids. Some of his teammates, such as Jack Ham and Jack Lambert refused to use any kind of performance enhancing drug.

The BALCO scandal also revealed many users of steroids in the NFL. In 2003, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, Kevin V. Ryan, began investigating BALCO. U.S. sprint coach Trevor Graham had given an anonymous phone call to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in June 2003 accusing a number of athletes being involved in doping with a steroid that was not detectable at the time. He also named Victor Conte as the source of the steroid. As evidence, Graham delivered a syringe containing traces of a substance nicknamed "The Clear". Shortly after, Don H. Catlin, director of the Olympic Analytical Laboratory in Los Angeles, succeeded in developing a testing process for tetrahydrogestrinone (THG). Now able to detect the new substance, he tested 550 existing samples from athletes, of which 20 proved to be positive for THG. A number of players from the Oakland Raiders were involved in this scandal, including Bill Romanowski, Tyrone Wheatley, Barrett Robbins, Chris Cooper and Dana Stubblefield. [cite web |url= |title= BALCO investigation time line |accessdate=2008-05-03 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=USA Today]

Recently, many players have confessed to steroid use. One of these players was former Oakland Raiders player Bill Romanowski. Romanowski confessed on the American news television show 60 Minutes to using steroids for a two year period beginning in 2001.cite web |url= |title= Romo tells '60 Minutes' he used steroids |accessdate=2008-05-03 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=] He stated that these were supplied by former NFL player and former head of BALCO Victor Conte, saying:

A notable recent occurrence happened in 2006. During the season, San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman failed a drug test and was suspended for four games when his primary "A" sample and backup "B" sample both tested positive for human growth hormone (HGH). Merriman was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005, with 54 tackles and 10 sacks. He also had a total of five passes defended and two forced fumbles. He was a starting player in the 2005 Pro Bowl, and was a leader on his team in sacks in the 2006 season.cite web |url= |title= Sources: Chargers' Merriman suspended for steroids |accessdate=2008-05-03 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=] The incident led to the passage of a rule that forbids a player who tests positive steroids from being selected to the Pro Bowl in the year in which they tested positive. The rule is commonly referred as the "Merriman Rule". [ [ Chargers LB supports the "Merriman Rule"] ] [cite web |url=|title=Sources: Positive 'roids test to result in Pro Bowl ban|accessdate=2008-05-03 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |] However, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has tried to distance the policy from being associated with the player, stating that Merriman tested clean on 19 of 20 random tests for performance-enhancing drugs since entering the league. [cite web |url= |title= Chargers LB tested clean 19 of 20 times |accessdate=2008-05-03 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |]

NFL steroid policy

The NFL banned substances policy has been acclaimed by some [ NFL's Steroid Policy Gets Kudos on Capitol Hill ( ] ] and criticized by others [ NFL Steroid Policy 'Not Perfect', House Committee Praises Tougher Testing Policy, But Still May Act - CBS News ] ] , but the policy is the longest running in professional sports, beginning in 1987. In comparison to the policies of Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, the NFL has long been the most strict. While recently MLB and the NHL decided to permanently ban athletes for a third offense, they have long been resistant to such measures, and random testing is in its infancy. [ [ - MLB, players agree to update drug policy ] ] [ [ | NHL unveils new drug testing policy ] ] Since the NFL started random, year-round tests and suspending players for banned substances, many more players have been found to be in violation of the policy. By April 2005, 111 NFL players had tested positive for banned substances, and of those 111, the NFL suspended 54.

Who cares about west high...GO RE

The NFL began to test players for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs during the 1987 season. The policy involves all players getting tested many times throughout the regular season, the playoffs, and even during the off-season. The policy was different in the 1990s then it is today, due to heavy criticism from the United States Government. Originally, there were specific guidelines for when the player was caught using a steroid or other performance-enhancing drug. If a player was caught using steroids during training camp or some other off-season workout, they were suspended for 30 days for a first-time offense. Typically, this would mean missing four games, three in the pre-season and one in the regular season. Players would then be tested throughout the year for performance-enhancing drugs and steroids. A player who tested positively during a previous test might or might not be included in the next random sampling. A player who tested positive again would be suspended for one year, and a suspension for a third offense was never specified, because it never happened. In later years when many players ignored the policy, NFLPA director Gene Upshaw sent out a letter to all NFL players that stated:

cquote|"Over the past few years, we have made a special effort to educate and warn players about the risks involved in the use of “nutritional supplements.” Despite these efforts, several players have been suspended even though their positive test result may have been due to the use of nutritional supplements. Under the Policy, you and you alone are responsible for what goes into your body. As the Policy clearly warns, supplements are not regulated or monitored by the government. This means that, even if they are bought over-the-counter from a known establishment, there is simply no way to be sure that they:

(a) contain the ingredients listed on the packaging;
(b) have not been tainted with prohibited substances; or
(c) have the properties or effects claimed by the manufacturer or salesperson.

Therefore, if you take these products, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK! The risk is at least a 4-game suspension without pay if a prohibited substance is detected in your system. For your own health and success in the League, we strongly encourage you to avoid the use of supplements altogether, or at the very least to be extremely careful about what you choose to take." [cite web |url= |title= NFl Banned Substances- Letter |accessdate=2008-05-04 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=]

Use in college football

Steroids and performance-enhancing drugs have been reportedly used by many college football players in the NCAA. According to a recent drug test and survey, about one percent of all NCAA football players have tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug or steroid, and about three percent have admitted to using one sometime during their college football career.Controversy arose in 2005, when former Brigham Young University player Jason Scukanec, although never admitting to using steroids himself, stated that steroids were used in many notable Division I programs.

Scukanec, who is currently the host of a sports talk radio show, made these statements:

Portland State University coach Tim Walsh commented on the situation, declining the remarks:

According to a confidential survey conducted by the NCAA since the 1980s, steroid use has dropped from 9.7 percent in 1989 to 3.0 percent in 2003. During the 2003 season, there were over 7,000 drug tests, with just 77 turning up as positive test results. Scukanec claims that methods were used to get around the drug testing, whether it be avoiding the tests by using the drugs during the off-season, or flushing the drugs out of your system. This was used with a liquid he referred to as the "pink." He stated:

Health issues

Performance-enhancing drugs, most notably anabolic steroids can cause many health issues. Many American football players have experienced these health issues from using anabolic steroids, which have even resulted in some player's deaths. Most of these issues are dose-dependent, the most common being elevated blood pressure, especially in those with pre-existing hypertension, [cite journal
author=Grace F, Sculthorpe N, Baker J, Davies B
title=Blood pressure and rate pressure product response in males using high-dose anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS)
journal=J Sci Med Sport
] and harmful changes in cholesterol levels: some steroids cause an increase in LDL cholesterol and a decrease in HDL cholesterol.cite web
last = Tokar
first = Steve
title = Liver Damage And Increased Heart Attack Risk Caused By Anabolic Steroid Use
publisher = University of California - San Francisco
date = 2006 Feb
accessdate = 2007-04-24
] Anabolic steroids such as testosterone also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease [cite journal
author=Barrett-Connor E
title=Testosterone and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in men
journal=Diabete Metab
] or coronary artery disease. [cite journal
author=Bagatell C, Knopp R, Vale W, Rivier J, Bremner W
title=Physiologic testosterone levels in normal men suppress high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels
journal=Ann Intern Med
issue=12 Pt 1
] [cite journal |author=Mewis C, Spyridopoulos I, Kühlkamp V, Seipel L |title=Manifestation of severe coronary heart disease after anabolic drug abuse |journal=Clinical cardiology |volume=19 |issue=2 |pages=153-5 |year=1996 |pmid=8821428] Acne is fairly common among anabolic steroid users, mostly due to stimulation of the sebaceous glands by increased testosterone levels.cite journal
author=Hartgens F, Kuipers H
title=Effects of androgenic-anabolic steroids in athletes
journal=Sports Med
] [cite journal |author=Melnik B, Jansen T, Grabbe S |title=Abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids and bodybuilding acne: an underestimated health problem |journal=Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft = Journal of the German Society of Dermatology : JDDG |volume=5 |issue=2 |pages=110-7 |year=2007 |pmid=17274777 |doi=10.1111/j.1610-0387.2007.06176.x] Conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can accelerate the rate of premature baldness for those who are genetically predisposed.

Other side effects can include alterations in the structure of the heart, such as enlargement and thickening of the left ventricle, which impairs its contraction and relaxation. [cite journal
author=De Piccoli B, Giada F, Benettin A, Sartori F, Piccolo E
title=Anabolic steroid use in body builders: an echocardiographic study of left ventricle morphology and function
journal=Int J Sports Med
] Possible effects of these alterations in the heart are hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and sudden cardiac death. [cite journal |author=Sullivan ML, Martinez CM, Gallagher EJ |title=Atrial fibrillation and anabolic steroids |journal=The Journal of emergency medicine |volume=17 |issue=5 |pages=851-7 |year=1999 |pmid=10499702] These changes are also seen in non-drug using athletes, but steroid use may accelerate this process. [cite journal |author=Dickerman RD, Schaller F, McConathy WJ |title=Left ventricular wall thickening does occur in elite power athletes with or without anabolic steroid Use |journal=Cardiology |volume=90 |issue=2 |pages=145-8 |year=1998 |pmid=9778553] [cite journal |author=George KP, Wolfe LA, Burggraf GW |title=The 'athletic heart syndrome'. A critical review |journal=Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) |volume=11 |issue=5 |pages=300-30 |year=1991 |pmid=1829849] However, both the connection between changes in the structure of the left ventricle and decreased cardiac function, as well as the connection to steroid use have been disputed. [cite journal
author=Dickerman R, Schaller F, Zachariah N, McConathy W
title=Left ventricular size and function in elite bodybuilders using anabolic steroids
journal=Clin J Sport Med
] [cite journal |author=Salke RC, Rowland TW, Burke EJ |title=Left ventricular size and function in body builders using anabolic steroids |journal=Medicine and science in sports and exercise |volume=17 |issue=6 |pages=701-4 |year=1985 |pmid=4079743]

High doses of oral anabolic steroid compounds can cause liver damage as the steroids are metabolized (17α-alkylated) in the digestive system to increase their bioavailability and stability. [cite journal
author=Yamamoto Y, Moore R, Hess H, Guo G, Gonzalez F, Korach K, Maronpot R, Negishi M
title=Estrogen receptor alpha mediates 17alpha-ethynylestradiol causing hepatotoxicity
journal=J Biol Chem
] When high doses of such steroids are used for long periods, the liver damage may be severe and lead to liver cancer. [cite journal |author=Socas L, Zumbado M, Pérez-Luzardo O, "et al" |title=Hepatocellular adenomas associated with anabolic androgenic steroid abuse in bodybuilders: a report of two cases and a review of the literature |journal=British journal of sports medicine |volume=39 |issue=5 |pages=e27 |year=2005 |pmid=15849280 |doi=10.1136/bjsm.2004.013599] [cite journal |author=Velazquez I, Alter BP |title=Androgens and liver tumors: Fanconi's anemia and non-Fanconi's conditions |journal=Am. J. Hematol. |volume=77 |issue=3 |pages=257-67 |year=2004 |pmid=15495253 |doi=10.1002/ajh.20183]

There are also gender-specific side effects of anabolic steroids. Development of breast tissue in males, a condition called gynecomastia (which is usually caused by high levels of circulating estrogen), may arise because of increased conversion of testosterone to estrogen by the enzyme aromatase. [cite journal |author=Marcus R, Korenman S |title=Estrogens and the human male |journal=Annu Rev Med |volume=27 |issue= |pages=357-70 |year= |id=PMID 779604] Reduced sexual function and temporary infertility can also occur in males. [cite journal
author = Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA
journal = Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
title = Medical Issues Associated with Anabolic Steroid Use: Are they Exaggerated?
date = June 1 2006
url =
format = PDF
accessdate = 2007-05-08
] [cite journal
author=Meriggiola M, Costantino A, Bremner W, Morselli-Labate A
title=Higher testosterone dose impairs sperm suppression induced by a combined androgen-progestin regimen
journal=J. Androl.
] [cite journal
author=Matsumoto A
title=Effects of chronic testosterone administration in normal men: safety and efficacy of high dosage testosterone and parallel dose-dependent suppression of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and sperm production
journal=J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab.
] Another male-specific side effect which can occur is testicular atrophy, caused by the suppression of natural testosterone levels, which inhibits production of sperm (most of the mass of the testes is developing sperm). This side effect is temporary: the size of the testicles usually returns to normal within a few weeks of discontinuing anabolic steroid use as normal production of sperm resumes. [cite journal
author=Alén M, Reinilä M, Vihko R
title=Response of serum hormones to androgen administration in power athletes
journal=Medicine and science in sports and exercise
] Female-specific side effects include increases in body hair, deepening of the voice, enlarged clitoris, and temporary decreases in menstrual cycles. When taken during pregnancy, anabolic steroids can affect fetal development by causing the development of male features in the female fetus and female features in the male fetus. [cite journal
author=Manikkam M, Crespi E, Doop D, "et al"
title=Fetal programming: prenatal testosterone excess leads to fetal growth retardation and postnatal catch-up growth in sheep

See also

*Steroid use in baseball
*Doping (sport)


External links

* [ Official NFL website]
* [ NCAA administrative website]
* [ NCAA sports]
* [ NFL banned substance list]

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