Performance Enhancing Drugs, Ball Acne, and You

A WISE MAN ONCE SAID, “Who doesn’t want a shortcut to greatness?”

As humans, our typical choice for artificial awesome acceleration tends to lean towards the world of drugs.  As a writer, I know that I would never have been published had I not spent my 20s in an illicit substance-induced haze. And that was just as I was getting my Master’s degree. As a “working” writer, I lean heavily on whiskey, nicotine, and a lidocaine/codeine/echinacea cocktail that my thesis adviser prescribed. And I must say, I’ve experienced nothing but success. One reviewer went so far as to say that my work “suffers beneath the harsh light of sobriety.”

Greatness and ingenuity in other industries also rely heavily on drugs in order to be competitive. Henry Ford was a methamphetamine addict. Stephen Hawking drinks 45 Coca-Colas a day. Martha Stewart consumes five Bloody Marys made from the blood of her interns before noon. And Bill Clinton is hooked on fat chicks. But perhaps no industry has a more tumultuous relationship with performance enhancing drugs than sports.

Drugs and sport have gone hand in hand since Jesus turned water into wine to calm the  Nazareth wrestling team at the Isthmian Games. Lance Armstrong, Melky Cabrera, and Bartolo Colon all had bad Augusts that saw steroids taint their careers. So, naturally, Headshots thought we’d a look at ‘roids, and why they’re a bad idea no matter the fame and fortune that may follow.

1. Ball Acne

Have you ever had a real good look at your balls? They look like a panorama of Mars made by a color blind 3 year-old kid with ADD, covered in dead cat hair and left to soak in a glass of Dr. Pepper for three days. They are disgusting. Headshots’ second ex-wife once remarked of our balls, “If it wasn’t for gin’s sterilizing ability, there’s no way I would put these things anywhere near my mouth.” One of the most notable side effects of steroid use is acne, in particular on the back and balls. So next time you think you can impress the coeds by bulking up and starring as a walk-on on your varsity volleyball team, remember that nothing as repulsive as a nut sack can be made prettier when freckled in small volcanoes of puss.

2. Masculine Effects and Infertility

The mainstream media doesn’t often discuss the effects of steroids on female athletes, except in the case of Marion Jones and horse racing. But here at Headshots, we eschew the mainstream in order to bring you the truth, or a reasonably amusing facsimile thereof. Women taking steroids are known to develop masculine traits such as lowered voices, absence of breasts, and a quiet propensity for anal sex. Additionally, many female athletes who have abused steroids have found themselves infertile.

Is that what you want, ladies? To become dudes just so that you can finish seventh in your high school regional 200 meter qualifying heats? With the exception of the gift of penetration, there’s nothing good about being a dude, and strap-on technology has really progressed in the past decade to the point where if women can extract enough healthy semen and cryogenically store it, men will be extinct by 2056.

3. Jose Canseco

That’s right, if you abuse steroids, you will become a massive douchebag. Jose Canseco spends his days locked in an LA studio apartment he rents, tapping out sad and desperate tweets on his stolen five year-old Netbook, wearing nothing but a torn Mark McGwire As jersey, and eating buckets of KFC.

Canseco was once a world-renowned celebrity, with beautiful, intelligent women he wasn’t paying for on his arm. While you could argue that the ‘roids got him to that juncture in his life, the long, hard fall to the bottom just can’t be worth it. Dude couldn’t even survive the Celebrity Apprentice, and Arsenio dominated that shit. Arsenio!

4. Tiny Balls and No Kids

Besides covering your balls in acne, steroid use can render the little fellas useless altogether. Well-known side-effects of steroids include enlarged breasts, shrunken penis and testicles, impotence and absence of virility, and sterility. So congratulations, AA utility infielder with no chance of making the majors. When your career fans out, and you’re 26, without an education, and your resume reads in crayon “can play all three outfield positions”, you’re also going to be a flaccid, lubido-less, sterile manchild with tits.

Was it worth it?

5. Baldness

You know what’s worse than being bald? Nothing. (I’m excluding disease, loss of a loved one, abuse, and being a member of the Tea Party.) Nothing says “single for life” better than a comb-over on a 24 year-old former kayaker who missed out on qualifying for the Olympics by 3-100ths of an hour. You might as well just add alcoholic to your list of faults, because your steroid ridden hairline is going to require a lot of drinking to forget about while your maxing out your Visa on a private webcam with a Lithuanian teenager who looks a lot like Jose Canseco.

While the cliché “winners don’t do drugs” is of course a misnomer, the reality is that the side effects of steroid abuse far outweigh the few success stories of athletes who were able to abuse steroids and keep it hidden from testing and the media (Derek Jeter, what’s up?). So, if you want to abuse a drug in order to be successful, become a coke-addled whiskey-soaked artist. As far as I can tell, there are no negative side effects.


Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).

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