Stuff You Should Know: Steroids

barry bonds main

Baseball season is almost here and, fittingly enough, Barry Bonds perjury trial kicked off yesterday. Baseball and steroids, two great tastes that taste great together.

To celebrate Barry Bonds finally getting his day in court to clear his good name (or something like that) we decided to take a look at the substance that got him there, and in the record books, in the first place.

Here are ten things you should know about steroids…

Russia Started it, But We “Perfected” It


During the 1940′s, Russian weightlifters were using steroids to dominate their competition. To help the U.S. gain an advantage, our weightlifters holed up in a cabin in the woods and resorted to more traditional means of training, like dragging heavy logs through the woods and such.

Just joking, that’s the plot of Rocky IV. What really happened was U.S. Olympic team physician Dr. John Ziegler started working with synthetic chemists to develop our own version of anabolic steroids. The result of that research was Dianabol, a steroid that was primarily marketed to the elderly and burn victims, but was approved for off-label uses like blasting your pecs and biceps.

Unfortunately, when taken in large doses, it also caused testicular atrophy, which makes the name Dianabol remarkably fitting.

Steroids Do Have Their Benefits


People wouldn’t risk shriveled balls and murderous outbursts if there wasn’t something in it for them. Steroids do have their benefits. Like what? Glad you asked!

  • Increased leanness/muscle definition
  • Increased muscle mass/weight
  • Increased strength
  • Increased effectiveness of training
  • Improved recovery rate
  • Euphoria
  • Increased sex drive

But It’s Not All Good


If it was all that easy, steroids would probably not only be legal, athletes would probably endorse them the same way they do shoes and shitty restaurants. The negative side effects are almost too numerous to list, but here’s a brief rundown.

  • Increased risk of mood disturbances including mania and depression
  • Increased risk of psychosis
  • Increased risk of aggressive acts which may injure self or others
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Increased risk of liver disease and cancer
  • Increased risk of kidney disease and cancer
  • Risk of HIV and Hepatitis B & C from contaminated needles
  • Acne
  • Bad breath
  • Baldness
  • Infertility

But on the bright side, you’ll be totally ripped, bro!

Illegal Doesn’t Mean Hard to Find

steroids mexico

Steroids might be illegal for use without a prescription in the United States, but that doesn’t mean they’re hard to find. For one thing, you could always grow up to be a world famous athlete, in which case pretty much any doctor will throw them your way like so much groupie sex.

But if your athletic career never panned out, a trip to Mexico or Thailand should do the trick. You can buy them right over the counter in both of those countries. Or, you know, just buy them right on the internet.

They Weren’t Always Banned In Sports

arnold_schwarzeneggerIt took awhile for the unfair advantage provided by steroids to catch up with them actually being outlawed in athletic competition. That didn’t happen on a widespread basis until the mid-1970′s. They were banned by the International Olympic Committee in 1976. The NFL began testing for steroids in 1987, which left plenty of steroid riddled years for teams to take unfair advantage of. For example…

The San Diego Chargers Put them to Good Use


The 1963 San Diego Chargers are generally credited as the first professional sports team to benefit from the competition crushing power of steroids.

In 1962, the Chargers stunk their way through a miserable 4-10 season. In an effort to turn the team’s fortunes around, coach Sid Gillman relocated the team’s training facility to a dusty ranch 70 miles east of San Diego called Rough Acres. After the move, he immediately implemented changes designed to improve the team’s dreary fortunes. Some of them were benign enough, a weightlifting program, a strength coach and, the biggest equalizer in sports history, integration.

But he also implemented something else. Gillman began handing out little pink pills. Those pills, of course, were Dianabol. And it worked! In 1963, the San Diego Chargers put up an 11-3 record and walked away with the AFL Championship. Tiny testicles be damned!

Major League Baseball Was a Bit Slower to Frown on Steroid Use

turtleIf you’ve ever wondered why steroid use in baseball was able to flourish the way it did, the answer is simple. They never really tested for them. Even when they did, the penalties weren’t harsh enough to discourage use.

It wasn’t until the BALCO scandal that Barry Bonds is currently pleading his case over that baseball actually took a tough stance against steroid use. The current policy, which implemented stiffer penalties for positive steroid tests didn’t take effect until 2005. Before that, it was the wild west for bulging biceps and inflated home run numbers.

Players who did test positive during the heyday of steroids in baseball weren’t even suspended. Hell, they weren’t even named publicly. Unless you could sell a player on the health risks, the chances of getting them to shy away from steroids were pretty slim back in the days of McGwire and Sosa.

Barry Bonds Has Some Explaining to Do

bonds court

Barry Bonds is still kind of evasive as to whether he knowingly took steroids. He’s kind of admitted it, but not really. By his logic, he did steroids, but not nearly as much as people think.

Well, okay, let’s took at some interesting numbers then. When Bonds joined the San Francisco Giants in 1993, he was almost 30 years old. That much we know. So let us ask you, the reader, a question. How much growing did you do after the age of 30? We don’t mean in the beer gut region, we just mean how much did you grow overall? Probably not much, right?

Now check out what happened to Barry Bonds during his time with the Giants:

  • His hat size expanded from 7 1/8 to 7 1/4
  • His chest expanded from 42″ to 52″
  • His shoe size expanded from 10.5 to 13

Like we said, he’s got some explaining to do. But…

He’s Not the Only Thing in Baseball That Experienced Massive Growth


Bonds, McGwire and Sosa weren’t the only ones banging home runs at a shocking pace. The entire league joined in the fun. In 1995, there were 4,081 home runs hit in Major League Baseball. Sounds like a lot, yeah? Well the next year it somehow skyrocketed to 4,962. But it gets even better.

The home run totals didn’t dip below 5,000 for most of the 2000′s. That is, they didn’t until something pretty major happened.

Congress Steps In

steroids congress hearing

Congress called several Major League players to testify regarding steroids in 2005. The BALCO scandal had broken earlier that year, which prompted all the governmental intervention. Then, in 2006, MLB launched their own investigation headed by former Senator George Mitchell.

And lo and behold, in 2007, home run totals plummeted to 4,957. They’ve been dwindling ever since. Go figure.