Heath Benedict, a small college big time football player found dead at his home last March, appears to raise many questions. At 6-6 and 320 pounds, any NFL prospect draws attention to possible steroid use, An early death compounds the concerns. At the time this was said (USA Today)
Jacksonville police said no foul play is suspected in the death of the 24-year-old Benedict, a 6-6, 326-pounder who finished up his senior season in the fall and left school to train for next month's NFL draft. He was nine hours short of a business degree.
Benedict took part in the Senior Bowl in January, the first Division II player to do so since 2004, and was invited to last month's NFL combine.
"He was a big, tough man, but he had a very gentle heart," Newberry president Mick Zais said. "He was a teddy bear."
Benedict, who redshirted at Tennessee in 2002 before moving to Newberry, was a native of the Netherlands. He played high school football at the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J.
More than a gentle heart - an enlarged heart with an irregular heartbeat. What might cause cardiac hypertrophy? A congenital condition, or drug use. Drugs like anabolic steroids or more notoriously HGH can enlarge the heart, thus causing major problems. And what was found at Benedict's house? These drugs (The State):
Former Newberry College football standout Heath Benedict died of an irregular heartbeat caused by an enlarged heart, according to the Duval County Medical Examiner’s Office in Jacksonville, Fla.
The report also reveals a syringe and three bottles were found near his body on March 26. One of the bottles contained water, but the other two were labeled “L-Via” and “L-Dex,” liquid forms of the drugs Viagra and Arimidex.
Deputy chief medical examiner Jessie Giles made it clear Benedict’s death was caused by dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart-muscle disease that leads to a fatal irregular heartbeat. However, Giles said the role Viagra, an erectile dysfunction medication, and Arimidex, an anabolic steroid used by post-menopausal breast cancer patients to reduce estrogen levels, could not be determined.
“The role, if any, of anabolic steroid or other similar drug/preparation use ... is unknown and beyond the scope of this office,” Giles wrote in the report.
The newspaper distorted the facts somewhat. Arimidex (anastrozole) is not an anabolic steroid, however is a masking agent or an anti-estrogen drug. It acts by inhibiting conversion of androgenic steroids to estrogen, thus reducing side effects like enlarged breasts.
Injections of Viagra and Arimidex is somewhat bizarre. Was this player attempting to maximize his NFL potential, yet trying to avoid detection at dope testing?
Stories recently centered on Viagra as PED, apparently used by big time drug-cheat Roger Clemens. (Sporting News). Listen to this quote attributed to Clemens:
Roger Clemens, among other athletes, used Viagra to improve their athletic performance, according to a report in the New York Daily News.
Clemens got the pills -- which are not banned by Major League Baseball -- from a teammate and kept them in a GNC vitamin bottle in his locker, according to an anonymous source cited by the newspaper. He also reportedly told a friend that the drug made him feel flushed and made his heart race.
The newspaper also quotes BALCO founder Victor Conte as saying, "All my athletes took it," in reference to a Viagra-like drug.
The drug and its over-the-counter substitutes reportedly have numerous off-label uses. These include helping build endurance and delivering oxygen, nutrients and performance-enhancing drugs to muscles more efficiently.
Researchers at universities across the country are now trying to determine whether anecdotal evidence that Viagra aids in training and improves performance is based in scientific fact.
Heart racing? Perhaps leading to cardiac arrhythmias in an athlete who might have primed his heart with anabolics? This isn't good. More on the topic later...
Add#1We added a continuation of the State article which stated that Benedict showed "two puncture wounds in his arm, which isn't consistent with anabolic steroids.
Add#2: We found a research study where Arimidex increased testosterone in 'elderly men' from about 375 to 575. Not a bad increase. The mechanism appears to be by blocking the negative feedback from estrogen on LH/FSH or GNRH release in the pituitary.
Two possible puncture marks were noticed on Benedict’s left arm, according to the report. But such marks are not consistent with the use of steroids, which are typically injected in the buttocks or near the hip.
A toxicology report found caffeine and ethanol in Benedict’s bloodstream. The ethanol likely was formed by the body’s decomposition.
Viagra and Arimidex are considered to be on the leading edge of doping and steroid abuse in professional sports. Neither are banned substances, but they have specific benefits in athletic training.
Viagra played a starring role in the investigation into Roger Clemens’ alleged steroid use. The New York Daily News reported this month that Viagra, known as “Vitamin V” in clubhouses, is a popular pick-me-up for athletes seeking an edge. Viagra’s use has become so widespread that anti-doping officials are mulling possible action to curb it.
Meanwhile, Arimidex’s primary use among athletes is to elevate testosterone levels while preventing the hormone from breaking down into estrogen, which can have harmful effects on muscle growth.
Arimidex is relatively new and has yet to be banned by the NFL, though its properties are similar to many anabolic steroid and anti-estrogenic agents on the banned-substances list.
Arimidex has drawn a lot of attention on steroid and body-building Web sites for its impressive results in concert with other drugs during a steroid cycle.
Both drugs increase blood pressure, which aids in the delivery of oxygen to muscles during activity but could strain a diseased heart such as Benedict’s, according to each drugs’ literature.