Byline: Trevor Butterworth
Steroids are way more dangerous than you think.
Between the failed case against pitching legend Roger Clemens and the never-ending investigation into Tour de France phenomenon Lance Armstrong, it's tempting to write off doping as something we should just accept in sports--the thing to do if you really want to win. After all, if scientists and students are taking drugs to enhance cognitive performance, why not let athletes do the same? Nature isn't equal in dispensing physical and intellectual ability, so let science and the free market level the playing field.
Harrison "Skip" Pope, professor of psychiatry at Harvard's McLean Hospital, concedes that keeping drugs out of sports is a Sisyphean task. "Those of us who do research in this area are all quite cynical about the magnitude of doping in sports and feel that it is all probably much greater than is generally believed by the public," he says. "It's also extremely difficult to control, and even with the best control, it still persists."
But giving up would subject athletes to a great deal of danger, the magnitude of which is "only beginning to be appreciated by medical research," says Pope, who is also an avid weightlifter. The preliminary data on steroids suggest that long-term use damages the muscle of the heart, …