By Dr. Flip Homansky:
I constantly hear, “steroids don’t work, and even if they did.....they wouldn’t be used in boxing.”
We think of the weight lifter or the interior lineman in football as the typical user. They need the extra bulk and necessarily speed. Some think that only a boxer moving up or a heavyweight would possible try them. The assumption is that anabolic steroids would make the boxer muscle-bound and slow.
Well, think again!
Steroids do work.
The most prominent athletes caught using these banned substances have been in track and field. Ben Johnson was the fastest man on the planet. His speed and quickness were legendary! Yet, he tested positive for stanozolol twice and was stripped of his Olympic Medals. He was no longer allowed to compete, and literally lost millions of dollars. He finally admitted using steroids extensively in his career. He stated that he believed the drug gave him a distinct advantage in getting out of the blocks quicker, sustaining his pace, and allowing him to stay at an elite level of competition longer. He also felt he was at a competitive disadvantage without the drug in his system.
So......could they be used to a boxer’s advantage and should they be allowed?
The answer is “Yes,” they could be used in our sport,
and NO - they must not be allowed.
Steroids are ethically wrong, and carry an enormous medical risk.
DEFINITION: Anabolic Androgenous Steroids are synthetic derivatives of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone.
This is from the Greek=anabole-to build
Testosterone helps the body turn dietary protein into muscle. The utilization of protein is improved and the catabolic (inhibitory or breakdown) effects of glucocorticoids are inhibited.
This results in: 1) increased capacity to train and compete
2) decreased fatigue and shorter time to muscle recovery
3) promotes development of muscle tissue.
None of this happens by taking the drug alone. In conjunction with vigorous physical training and increased protein intake, the effects are evident. This drug comes in pill and parenteral (shot) form. For the effects to be seen that we have talked about, massive doses have to be used. This is usually accomplished by injection over an extended period. Frequently, different types of androgenic steroids are given in a pattern that is called “stacking.’
Hey, this sounds great...so, why not?????
We cannot allow a fighter to gain an unfair advantage over his opponent. The ring must be as fair and honorable as we can make it. These drugs are an artificial benefit, and should not be allowed in our sport. They are no different than other illegal substances (like stimulants), or even tampering with a fighter’s gloves. The playing field should always be on the same level.
MEDICAL ISSUES - These conditions happen because you are taking a body hormone.
1) I know guys don’t brag about the size of their testicles - but who wants to see their CAHONES atrophy or shrink? This happens with anabolics. Your scrotum will be awful lonely with only little tiny nuts in there. This leads to decreased sperm production, and even impotence. Holy Toledo!
2) Premature balding. Think of Hulk Hogan or most wrestlers. They almost all develop thinning hair or balding.
3) Acne - “big zits”
4) Gynecomastia (guys who develop breasts)
5) Clotting disorders (blood clots)
6) Liver failure or even liver cancer. Perhaps even leading to early death.
7) Kidney disease (including stones)
8) Premature heart failure
(I believe I have seen this in world class boxers - strictly due to steroids).
10) Increased cholesterol levels, with deposition of fatty deposits in the body.
11) Weakening of tendons leading to joint injuries and muscles tears.
12) Mood Swings - we have all heard about “Roid Rage.”
(This can lead to uncontrollable aggression, a feeling of invincibility- just an increasingly nasty person who is impossible to deal with. They can actually become psychotic).
13) Increased body hair - think of your back
14) Fluid retention
15) Tolerance - You require bigger and bigger doses for the same effect.
16) HIV and hepatitis - from needle sharing
WOMEN are masculinized:
1) Facial hair - think beard
3) Clitoral enlargement
4) Fetal damage (to an unborn child)
5) Deepening voice
6) Menstrual irregularities
Adolescents who use steroids have premature closure of bone growth plates. In other words, they never grow as tall as they were meant to.
Speaking of kids....In a Journal of Pediatrics article, they studied 965 Massachusetts Middle School students. They found that 2.7% had tried some type of anabolics and 24% of those trying were girls. In another study from June 2000, it was determined that 5.2% of boys and 2.2% of the girls in grades 9-12 had also tried steroids.
Many of these kids use this type of drug simply to change their body image....to be more attractive to the opposite sex.
Many who are too concerned to try anabolic steroids will take readily available things like creatine monohydrate and androstenedione (Andro), to attempt to get the same effect. The dangers are still there. In fact, Andro is a prohormone and is converted in the body to testosterone.
This article is my attempt to educate our boxers and their regulators. Do I think use is rampant in boxing....NO. Is it a potential problem....YES! In Nevada, we have over a period of time spot checked fighters for steroid use. We have actually found two instances. We explained the dangers to both of these fighters, and told them they must stop. The testing is complicated, and I am fully aware that certain individuals in other sports have been able to “beat the system.” The point is not to catch and punish....but to educate. We are ramping up our testing policies, and plan to have an in-depth policy in place by June of this year. At that time the penalties will be significant.
Dr. Flip Homansky is the current Vice-Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). For over twenty years, he served as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board and Chief Ringside Physician for the NSAC.
Dr. Flip Homansky practices in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had been a licensed ringside physician and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board for the Nevada State Athletic Commission for over twenty years. His medical specialty is in the field of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Homansky was appointed by Nevada’s Governor, Kenny C. Guinn, in 2000, to serve as a Commissioner of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Although he is currently Vice-Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessary reflect those of Nevada’s Commission. All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.
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