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JANUARY 16, 2008

A FOSTIAN BARGAIN?
Source of athletic advantages the problem for most

The term faustian refers to a wider interpretation of the events of a story titled “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In part one of Goethe's Faust, the protagonist’s pact with the devil allows him to have energy, life and youth unless he becomes so entranced by the passing moment that he wishes that things will never change. When Faust eventually makes that wish, his life and soul are forfeited to the Devil.

Now, we use the term “faustian” to mean anything where short-term gain is compromised for long-term stability, or where morals are compromised for material gain.

Some people think that this applies to steroids. Certainly the title (not a typo) may lead you to believe that’s what I’m doing with this editorial.

I’m not.

Amidst all of the Anti-Steroid hysteria, there’s one guy, Dr. Norman Fost*, who remains unconvinced that athletes of today are actually doing anything wrong. Notice that I didn’t say that he doesn’t think they’re using steroids, but he actually doesn’t think that they’re doing anything wrong by using steroids.

(*Did you notice that I made a clever pun with the title and the doctor’s name?)

Technology advances and creatine will help a player gain more weight than some milder steroids will…so it’s not the “advantage” that people object to. In fact, think about the developments in technology otherwise…look at a football from the 50’s…or a pair of track spikes…you couldn’t kick a football as far in the 50’s, or get as much grip out of your spikes from that era…

Anyone want to talk about Astroturf, Gatoraid, weather-proof domes to play in, or even Under Armour? Athletes have had technological advantages over their predecessors for years, and it keeps advancing. I’ve made this argument countless times – that the “advantage” is not the thing people object to…it’s the source of the advantage.

This is, of course, a terrible objection – and an ad hoc argument.

Put in the doctor’s own words, athletes who take banned performance-enhancing drugs are as morally and ethically blameless as the pole vaulters who quickly converted from bamboo poles to fiberglass when they saw a competitive edge.

He also holds the same opinion that I do, and thinks that rather than being banned, he insists, steroids should be available, under a doctor's supervision, to any pro or amateur adult athlete who wants them (although I typically add that I think certain blood work parameters ought to be adhered to).

I’m sure you’ve already guessed that he and I share a similar viewpoint on many things regarding anabolic steroids and sports…maybe because we’re both from New Jersey. Or maybe it’s because we’ve both appeared in the New York Times talking about steroids. Then again, it’s more likely the NJ-thing.

His name is Norman Fost, and this 68-year-old man has a bachelor's degree from Princeton, his M.D. from Yale. His did his residency at Johns Hopkins and, in addition, he received a master's in public health from Harvard.

"National Public Radio called me 'the loneliest man in America,'" he said. "The president of the university has forwarded letters from alumni saying they are withdrawing their financial support because of me.”

 It’s unfortunate that NPR has called Dr. Fost the lonliest man in America, because there’s about 85k members of this website who support every word of what he has said, and over a million unique visitors each month who likely agree with him as well. And we don’t just agree with him, but we serve as evidence of many of his observations about steroids as well. For example:

Dr. Fost has read numerous medical journals from around the world and has found no deaths tied to steroid use, no real irreversible side effects for adults beyond acne, hair loss, infertility, lowered voices (in women).  In fact, what this doctor has found is that the adverse effects from steroids – where there actually are any – are typically cosmetic and reversible side-effects. Admittedly, he says that bad lipid levels in the blood rise while the good decline: "This gets translated by the press into statements that there is an increased incidence of heart disease or stroke. I don't know of any evidence of that."

And of course, this is exactly our position here on steroid.com.

I’ve always thought that medical studies typically confirm what steroid users have been observing for years…in other words, that they confirm something, not that they tell us something. The study follows the real world observations, not the other way around. One of my friends always says “Science only tells us what we’ve done” – and I think that’s appropriate here. *Unfortunately, sometimes science tells us what it wants too.

Do you know of anyone who’s died from steroid use? Have any of our 80k+ members passed away from using steroids? Nope. Not a single one. So of course there’s no studies where it’s happened either…that’s common sense.

*Of course, sometimes science actually tells us the opposite of what we know to be true…and gets away with it for awhile. Remember those studies that came out about Growth Hormone (the very early ones) saying that it doesn’t increase athletic performance, strength, or lean body mass? Yeah, they came out just around the time it was banned…

Huh? We’re banning non-performance enhancing drugs which aren’t narcotics either? Did I miss a memo?

Or how about the 2008 Physicians Desk Reference which still (!) states that anabolic steroids do not enhance athletic performance?

Ok, granted, I’m on a bit of a rant here, but I’m glad to see that there’s finally a doctor who isn’t afraid to speak the truth about anabolic steroids and the fact that they’re no less ethical to use in sports than cleats or Gatoraid.



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