"While no sport has a monopoly on drug use or curiosity about drugs, in this country weight lifters and trackmen seem to be natural, eager couriers for information about get big, well, fast or mean pills and shots. There are several reasons for this. Trackmen and weight lifters compete in individual sports. They are among the most introspective of athletes, figuratively spending a lot of time watching their navels and literally watching their weight, muscle tone, respiration, pulse, bruises, strains, aches and psyches. Therefore, they tend to be especially susceptible to any suggestion that there may be some secret aid—animal, vegetable or mineral—that will jazz up their vital functions. In addition, they are cosmopolitan, competing all over the world, and thus able to trade more inside dope, so to speak, than stay-at-home fThe case history of the anabolic steroids, drugs that 10 years ago were almost unknown to American athletes but now are used and/or gossiped about in virtually every sport, serves as a classic example of how drug fads spread. By his own account, the anabolic steroid pioneer in the U.S. sports world was Dr. John Ziegler, an Olney, Md. physician. In 1960, after hearing that Russian athletes were using hormones to "bulk up," Ziegler, in cooperation with the Ciba Pharmaceutical Company (the maker of Dianabol) began giving these drugs to weight lifters at the York (Pa.) Barbell Club. Dr. Ziegler eventually became concerned about anabolic steroid use. "The trouble was that the York men went crazy about steroids," says the Maryland physician. "They figured if one pill was good, three or four would be better, and they were eating them like candy. I began seeing prostate trouble, and a couple of cases of atrophied testes."
The weight lifters themselves were quickly convinced that anabolic steroids made them bigger and stronger and began to tout the drugs. (Some doctors were—and are—far less sure about their strength-building characteristics.) Track weight men were early converts. By the mid-1960s most of the top-ranking weight men had tried anabolic steroids, including Randy Matson (who used them while preparing for the 1964 Olympics), Dallas Long, Hal Connolly, Bill Toomey and Russ Hodge. Footballers, many of whom are as interested in trying to make themselves as big and strong as any weight lifter or shotputter, were also obvious anabolic steroid candidates. Though the Chargers' experiment may have been a bit abortive, the drug has since caught on in football. It is an assumption, based on reasonably good but unverifiable reports, that some players on almost every NFL and AFL team have used anabolic steroids. It is a fact, according to physicians or players, that, in addition to the Chargers, members of the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns have taken the drug. Ken Ferguson of Utah State University, who went on to play professional football in Canada, has said that 90% of college linemen have used steroids. "I'd say anybody who has graduated from college to professional football in the last four years has used them," said Ferguson in 1968. So widespread is the faith in hormones that there are verified incidents where pro scouts have supplied the drug to college draftees, and college recruiters have given it to high school players.
In this matter of how and why drug habits get started, the case of the anabolic steroids is far from unique. There are many other drugs—amphetamines, strychnine, cocaine, morphine, DMSO, tranquilizers, barbiturates, vasodilators, painkillers, anti-inflammants, enzymes, muscle relaxers—that have enjoyed sudden athletic popularity and whose use has spread quickly through the sporting world, despite official dampening admonishments."
"An almost universal article of athletic faith is that the other side (the Humpty-Dumps, the Russians, the Jones Junior Highs) is 1) using drugs and 2) getting drugs that are better than our drugs. The oftentimes bitter confrontation between the United States and Communist teams has understandably produced a lot of such feelings. "We are usually a long way behind the Russians in drug use," says U.S. Weight Lifter Bill Starr. "They make a scientific study of it. If they come up with something good, their teams all get it. Here it is a hit or miss thing."
But East Europeans believe the same thing about Americans. Foreign athletes find it inconceivable that American athletes, coming from the land of towering pill factories, are not the most thoroughly doped competitors in the world."
"There is probably not a single sports physician in the United States, including the most conservative, who has not given a pain shot or pill at some time, and there are precious few athletes who have not taken such remedies. The explanation for the practice is the same in every sport. The sermon goes like this: "I give Novocain (or drug X) injections. However, I never give a boy a shot and send him back to play if a weight-bearing joint is involved. Pain is nature's warning, letting the body know something is wrong. If a boy continues to perform on an ankle or knee that has been deadened to pain, he runs the risk of aggravating the injury, disabling himself for a longer time, causing permanent injury or winding up in his 40s with traumatic arthritis."
No physician or trainer says he has ever given a painkiller that created a health risk for the receiver. However, most physicians and trainers, if pressed, admit that some others—often with opposing teams—do inject in this way. They will tell, off the record of course, stories about crippled halfbacks, distance runners hooked on Demerol (a synthetic morphine), pitchers whose elbows have degenerated because of too much cortisone. Obviously there is a mathematical, if not a moral, paradox here. Just as obviously, there is no way to collect testimony that will resolve the paradox—nobody is going to say, "Sure, we ruined Slug's knee, but we got three good games out of him before it went." Perhaps all that can be said is that what is good and what is bad painkilling practice is a matter of opinion, often firmly stated opinion. Some doctors feel that shooting so much as a sprained thumb is dangerous and unethical, while others see nothing wrong with freezing a broken leg."
In the early 1960s a high school team physician, working in cooperation with a pharmaceutical company, gave anabolic steroids to members of the football team. The program was clandestine. It apparently violated state interscholastic regulations and came to an abrupt halt when other football coaches heard about it and complained. Supposedly a report on the effects of the hormones on the high school boys was made, but the pharmaceutical company will not release it and the doctor will not discuss it.
Dr. H. Kay Dooley, of Pomona, Calif., now perhaps the physician who most openly advocates the use of anabolic steroids—though under a doctor's supervision—oversaw a study in 1965 testing three different commercial brands of the drug on 10th- and 11th-grade football players in Bloomington, Calif. Dooley believes the drugs did increase muscle size and improve performance, and he says there were no undesirable side effects. However, he says his procedures were not sufficiently controlled to provide hard evidence supporting the efficacy of the drug. He would like to see "a good scientific study" done.
Perhaps the best existing document on the subject was published in 1966 by Dr. William M. Fowler Jr., then of the UCLA Medical School. Summarized, the Fowler report found that the hormonal drugs do increase weight. However, said Fowler, "To equate increases in weight with a possible increase in strength can be erroneous, since considerable evidence exists that much of the increase in weight is due to water retention." Fowler concluded that the relationship between anabolic steroids and strength increase in athletes is unproved, and may be unprovable because it does not exist. As to the dangers connected with the drug, Fowler lists as major ones: testicular atrophy, change in the libido, liver damage and edema.
In preparing his report, Fowler queried 38 "well-known weight lifters or field-event men." He found "50% had taken or were taking one or more of the anabolic steroids. Of the users, 47% had received the drug from physicians, and 47% were taking a dosage that was two to four times greater than the therapeutic amount recommended. All of the 19 men on the drugs expressed the belief that their performance had improved. Only five denied any side effects. Most of the 19 men had been taking anabolic drugs on and off for at least one year."
Considering the debatable effectiveness, the potential dangers and the abusive use, Fowler arrived at a strong conclusion: "The use of androgens in athletes is unethical and illegal, and those using or administering them should be banned from further competition or professional activity." "