Athletes ask me all the time, "Coach Poe, why don't they just allow steroids to be used in sports"?

I have won for years without steroid use. So, I know what winning really takes and the efforts of precise building of strength and injury management.  Above all, I value my competitive character as an athlete and an example to whom I coach over any forms of drug use.

So, my challenge to you is to read the bleow PDF AND then read my response. You will get a clear perspective of a very deranged attitude in the hands of people who are trying to make the rules.


I disagree with the argument.

The authors’ of this article have presented a position concerning allowing the use of enhanced drugs in sports. The authors of this article have a hidden agenda to attack and disagree with the pragmatic sanction of professional sports in general. A pragmatic sanction is an edict issued by a sovereign group that becomes part of the fundamental law of the land or enterprise.

There are reasons why the use of drugs to enhance performance is considered unethical by most international sports organizations and especially the International Olympic Committee. Also, there are reasons for the ban due to over all health risk to the athlete.

Long term use of supraphysiologic doses of anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) cause irreversible cardiovascular toxicity, especially atherosclerotic effects and cardiomyopathy (5, 9, 21). In other organ systems, evidence of persistent toxicity is more modest (16, 22). High concentrations of AAS, comparable to those likely sustained by many AAS abusers, produce apoptotic effects on various cell types, including neuronal cells raising the specter of possibly irreversible neuropsychiatric toxicity (11, 22). As the first large wave of former AAS users now moves into middle age, it will be important to obtain more systematic data on the long-term psychiatric and medical consequences of this form of substance abuse. The article fails to mention this.

Several studies have also indicated that AAS suppresses the hypothalamic pituitary testicular (HPT) axis (7, 14, 19). When a “cycle” of AAS is stopped, male users will often become temporarily hypogonadal (5, 12, 23). Although HPT function usually recovers spontaneously within a few weeks to a few months, researchers have encountered several men where hypogonadism persisted for more than a year after discontinuing AAS (2, 7, 8, 17). Persistent suppression of HPT function may have serious clinical consequences, including infertility and major depressive illness (13, 16). In addition, dysphoric feelings associated with hypogonadism may prompt some AAS users to resume taking AAS again and again, thus prolonging the problem of HPT suppression and leading to a syndrome of AAS dependence (15, 18, 22).

Who will protect the athlete?

Checking athletes’ PCV levels is not providing a real service nor are any of the other reasons given in the article. The goal is to mitigate the hidden vulnerabilities caused by these sports performing enhanced drugs. There is more research indicating that the dangers exceed the benefits as well “as EPO being used as an indirect biomarker of recombinant human EPO misuse in sport “ (24).

I would offer three solutions with examples for  “NON” use of PED in sports.

A.    Learn to control the sporting situation like our troops in the US military.
B.    A more collaborative effort by sports medicine professionals and others to educate our athletes at an early age.
C.    Using former athletes who were successful without PED to deliver a message of hard work can overcome any drug.

1.    The United States military is a drug free environment. This environment uses methods that would be a very strong alternative to PED. The United State Special Forces train without the use of enhanced drug therapy of any kind. They use science to show soldiers how to become independent and control the situation and not let the situation control them (10). This puts the control back into the person and the person is not controlled by the drug. These super humans are a product of one of the best physical fitness training programs in the world. If being drug free is good for our United States special forces, then it should be that way for any athlete.

2.    Basic quality education of the ill effects of steroids should be launched in a more nationwide, coming from a more concentrated area of sport medicine like ATCs and strength and conditioning coaches whom have direct communication with athletes every day, not just a few times a year on very concentrated topics about performance enhancing drugs. “Clinicians providing sports medicine care to youth, whether through anticipatory guidance of direct sports medicine management, ,should educate their young patients about the hype and hyperbole of these products that may keep them out instead of in the game at considerable financial cost to the unwary consumer” (25).

3.    The World Anti-Doping Agency has done a great job in their outreach program using former athletes to deliver a message of hard work without drugs can still overcome opponents in sports who use PED. “One-on-One Interaction: Anti-doping experts and retired athletes are recruited from around the world to staff the Center. This format allows athletes to ask their anti-doping questions of peers and experts, enforcing the quality and credibility of the anti-doping message”  (26).

The article’s example of Thomas Hicks and his use of performance enhancing drugs in the modern Olympics (1928), the authors ignored other athletes. They have a burden to rejoin other athletes by doing a comparison contrast on other athletes that are counter intuitive to the argument. A few of my personal examples worth mentioning who have won without PED are:

1.    Jim Thorpe: He is always in my mind why you put very little faith and trust in the experts. Genetically inferior to the “blond hair blue eye” athletic perfection, he is an example of many people who played numerous sports professionally and was a star. However, he did not have all the genetic and social opportunities to perform as so many so called scientific studies concerning sports performance.
2.    Jesse Owens: The son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, achieved what no Olympian before him had accomplished. His stunning achievement of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin has made him the best-remembered athlete in Olympic history.
3.    Wilma Rudolph: was born prematurely at 4.5 lbs. She had infantile paralysis, caused by the polio virus, as a very young child. However, she recovered, but wore a brace on her left leg and foot which had become twisted as a result. By the time she was twelve years old, she had also survived scarlet fever, whooping cough, chickenpox and measles. Her family drove her regularly from Clarksville, Tennessee to Nashville, Tennessee for treatments to straighten her twisted leg. She had nothing going for her. She was African American (at a time when it was looked down on by society as a whole to be black), born in poverty, suffered many illnesses, and did not have access to sports enhancement drug use. However, she had an over dose of struggling and persevering, so as a result, she improved.

I leave you with this argument against performing enhancing drugs in sports.

Thank you.

Matt Poe


1) “The Brain,” a video documentary by the History Channel, produced by Darlow Smithson Productions 2008. (I have listed this reference, but did not use this reference because it is not “peer reviewed. This video is a great production on how the brain works and can be trained to overcome some of the most extreme situations of anxiety).

2)  Cohen J, Collins R, Darkes J, Gwartney D. A league of their own: demographics, motivations and patterns of use of 1,955 male adult non-medical anabolic steroid users in the United States. J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 2007;4:12. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
3) Cole JC, Smith R, Halford JC, Wagstaff GF. A preliminary investigation into the relationship between anabolic-androgenic steroid use and the symptoms of reverse anorexia in both current and ex-users. Psychopharmacology. 2003;166:424–429. [PubMed]

4) Collins R. Legal Muscle: Anabolics in America. Legal Muscle Publishing; East Meadow, NY: 2002.

5) Kanayama G., Hudson J.I., Pope Jr. H.G. Long-term psychiatric and medical consequences of anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse: a looming public health concern? (2008) Drug and alcohol dependence, 98 (1-2), pp. 1-12.

6) D’Andrea A, Caso P, Salerno G, Scarafile R, De Corato G, Mita C, Di Salvo G, Severino S, Cuomo S, Liccardo B, Esposito N, Calabro R, Giada F. Left ventricular early myocardial dysfunction after chronic misuse of anabolic androgenic steroids: a Doppler myocardial and strain imaging analysis. Br. J. Sports Med. 2007;41:149–155. * COMMENTARY. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

7) D’Ascenzo S, Millimaggi D, Di Massimo C, Saccani-Jotti G, Botre F, Carta G, Tozzi-Ciancarelli MG, Pavan A, Dolo V. Detrimental effects of anabolic steroids on human endothelial cells. Toxicology Letters. 2007;169:129–136. [PubMed]

8) Daly RC. Anabolic steroids, brain and behaviour. Irish Med. J. 2001;94:102.

9) Shahidi, N.T. A review of the chemistry, biological action, and clinical applications of anabolic-androgenic steroids (2001) Clinical Therapeutics, 23 (9), pp. 1355-1390.

10) Holterhus P.M., Piefke S., Hiort O. Anabolic steroids, testosterone-precursors and virilizing androgens induce distinct activation profiles of androgen responsive promoter constructs (2002) Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 82 (4-5), pp. 269-275.

11) Dawson R. Drugs in Sport -- The Role of the Physician. J Endocrinol. 2001;170:55–61. [PubMed]

12) de la Torre Abril L, Ramada Benlloch F, Sanchez Ballester F, Ordono Dominguez F, Ulises Juan Escudero J, Navalon Verdejo P, Lopez Alcina E, Ramos de Campos M, Zaragoza Orts J. Management of male sterility in patients taking anabolic steroids. Arch. Esp. Urol. 2005;58:241–244. [PubMed]

13) Boyadjiev NP, Georgieva KN, Massaldjieva RI, Gueorguiev SI. Reversible hypogonadism and azoospermia as a result of anabolic-androgenic steroid use in a bodybuilder with personality disorder. A case report. J. Sports Med. Physical Fitness. 2000;40:271–274.

14) Salas-Ramirez, Kaliris Y. Anabolic steroids have long-lasting effects on male social behaviors. Behavioural Brain Research Volume 208, Issue 2, 2 April 2010, Pages 328-335.

15) Brower KJ. Anabolic steroid abuse and dependence. Current Psychiatry Reports. 2002;4:377–387. [PubMed]

16) Harrison, G. Pope Jr. et al. A Diagnostic Interview Module for Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Dependence:Preliminary Evidence of Reliability and Validity. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology Volume 18, Issue 3, June 2010, Pages 203-213.

17) Petersson A., Garle M., Holmgren P., Druid H., Krantz P., Thiblin I. Toxicological findings and manner of death in autopsied users of anabolic androgenic steroids (2006) Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 81 (3), pp. 241-249.

18) Sjoqvist F., Garle M., Rane A. Use of doping agents, particularly anabolic steroids, in sports and society (2008) The Lancet, 371 (9627), pp. 1872-1882.
19) Kanayama G., Hudson J.I., Pope Jr. H.G. Features of men with anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence: A comparison with nondependent AAS users and with AAS nonusers (2009) Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 102 (1-3), pp. 130-137.

20) R. Lumia, Augustus, Y. McGinnis, Marilyn. Impact of anabolic androgenic steroids on adolescent males. Physiology & Behavior
Volume 100, Issue 3, 1 June 2010, Pages 199-204.

21) Cafri G, Thompson JK, Ricciardelli L, McCabe M, Smolak L, Yesalis C. Pursuit of the muscular ideal: Physical and psychological consequences and putative risk factors. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 2005;25:215–239. [PubMed]

22) Casavant M.J., Blake K., Griffith J., Yates A., Copley L.M. Consequences of Use of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (2007) Pediatric Clinics of North America, 54 (4), pp. 677-690.

23) Bahrke M.S., Yesalis C.E. Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids and related substances in sport and exercise (2004) Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 4 (6), pp. 614-620.

24) Abellan R., Ventura R. et al. Segura J. Evaluation of immunoassays for the measurement of erythropoietin (EPO) as an indirect biomarker of recombinant human EPO misuse in sport (2004) Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 35 (5), pp. 1169-1177.

25) Greydanus, Donald E. Sports  Doping in the Adolescent: The Faustian Conundrum of Hors De Combat. Pediatric Clinics of North America Volume 57, Issue 3, June 2010, Pages 729-750.

26) World Anti-Doping Agency. Athlete Outreach Program. Available at: Accessed on July 4, 2010.