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February 2013

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« Bulgarian volleyball -- Plamen Konstantinov -- captain gone. Doping? | Main | Scientific views on doping »



Millard Baker

There is no shortage of statistics regarding things like injury/death from cycling accidents, drowning deaths from swimming, concussions in football, etc. These can be numbered in the hundreds and the thousands.

The greatest risk of physical harm from sports is clearly the sport itself.

Steroid Nation

While it is true that there is risk from the sport itself, there are certain drugs that clearly add to morbidity and mortality risk.

EPO adds significantly to the risk of death in cycling. HGH and anabolic steroids add cardiac risk to vulnerable individuals. And the combination of certain drugs in (again) vulnerable persons produces significant risk from morbidity and mortality.

For instance can anyone quote the actual mortality risk from football? No. The morbidity from football is clearly significant, but again somewhat slippery -- both acute and chronic. And the morbidity from HGH abuse would be significant too, but likewise slippery to exactly determine.

My point would be that Fost doesn't really know either risk, so that his statement is hollow and essentially worthless. His statement is a logical fallacy and very misleading as a physician. He should read the literature. There is a ton of literature on the medical risks of anabolic steroids, so I discredit his expertise immediately.

It is also changing the subject to point out that the sport itself introduces risk, because that isn't the issue; the issue is the risk from the PEDs, which while not likely as dangerous as detractors will say, is nonetheless significant and sometimes very ill-defined.

Millard Baker

Speaking of risks introduced by the sport itself - did you see this weightlifting injury at the Olympics today?

No doubt, the use of performance enhancing drugs adds somes risks. But the risks are relative and debatable. As you probably know, I feel that they are often (if not usually) wildly overstated.

Also, some performance enhancing drugs are significantly more risky than others.

Millard Baker

I think these sort of statistics put the relative risks of steroids in context with other risks inherent with the sport.

This article was published today about sports injuries:

"Last year's rate for catastrophic injuries in cheerleading was two injuries per 100,000 athletes. For football, it was 3.2 injuries per 100,000 athletes, Mueller said. One hundred and three female high school students suffered sports-related catastrophic injuries — deaths, permanent disabilities and serious injuries such as skull fractures — between 1982 and 2007. Of that number, 67 were cheerleaders. Second was gymnastics with nine injuries."


Here is my points:

1. We have not determined the actual morbidity and mortality of sport because reporting is bad for acute events; also some of these injuries are more chronic, and may not show up for decades (ie birth defects in women who use anabolic steroids, or destroyed knees -- like mine -- from basketball). In the same way I do not believe we have the accurate M and M of PEDs.

2. We cannot say that because the activity itself has significant morbidity that another risk factors (drugs) are justified. For instance because driving on 2 lane hiways is inherently dangerous we cannot approve speeds in excess of 100 mph on those roads.

3. Overall, I am disparaging the defense of doping because 'sports are inherently risky'. That is a weak argument. There are arguments for the use of certain PEDs (in recovery) that use much more cogent points.


That is an interesting article you cite Millard. These studies look at acute injuries -- which are musculo-skeletal injuries, and are the easiest to track. Harder to track would be the cardiac complications of HGH because that is a more sophisticated injury that may show up decades later.

Again, these are not condemnation of any activity or any drug; all the relative risks should be considered...and if someone bans those goofy cheer leading daredevil moves I would not be unhappy.


The lifter dislocated his elbow. Ouch! But not fatal.

I remember when Randy Lewis -- the next Dan Gable here at Iowa wrestling -- dislocated his elbow like that in a match. People watching it on the news got sick.

Lewis came back, but was never the same dominating wrestler.

How about Joe Theisman's leg when it broke.

Or worse when I was in school when a urologist showed us his slide collection of male genital injuries from a tractor power take off....BARF!

Can't believe how many injuries occur in cheerleading?!

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