PEDs in the NBA

One day after I railed against Simmons' steroids article - the zillionth on ESPN - I am now going to prove myself a complete hypocrite. I want to discuss an NBA steroids article about Rashard Lewis which covered some very interesting points


  1. I agree with the premise of this article - there are probably more performance enhancing drugs being used in the NBA than what we realize. And they are probably not pure muscle-building steroids.

    For instance, I could see the tangible benefit for a guy like Steve Nash if he was using a PED like like blood doping, just like a cyclist would. A point guard in his thirties, who runs flat-out on the speedy Suns all game long for an 82-game season, and is getting better with age? An obvious PED benefit there for greater endurance, right?

    I thought these two passages about Rashard Lewis' drug, DHEA, were fascinating:

    "Steroids are just one category of the various substances that can make you a better athlete. Again, poker players and Olympic shooters take beta blockers to keep their heart rates down."

    "Then, in this case, there is DHEA. It is prevalent among supplements, and The Orlando Sentinel quoted a World Anti-Doping official saying it wasn't terribly effective. But then, a recent study on the effects of the hormone of military combat divers by scientists from Yale, Boston University, and the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder concluded that DHEA resulted in "superior stress tolerance." Think superior stress tolerance would help Lewis with any of those big shots he hit on the way to the NBA Finals?"

    That's pretty interesting, right? A drug that can settle you down and calm the nerves? Between that and better endurance, those are two HUGE advantages that PEDs could convey in basketball...

  2. So you follow Simmons on Twitter also? I completely agree that for the last couple years and moving forward, we are entering the Gray Era, where people wonder about performance-enhancing drugs, both legal and illegal.

    I remember when Angel Cabrera won the 2007 US Open, he was smoking another cigarette on every hole on Sunday. In general, smoking increases stress in the body, but there is a chemical high and a calming effect from each individual cigarette. Was nicotine a performance-enhancing drug that day? I say yes. Ibuprofen is a performance-enhancing drug for football players. Who is going to make the rules that some drugs aid competition, while other drugs provide an unfair advantage.

    I want this discussion to be about performance-enhancing, legality, and morality of different substances in sports. From nicotine for golfers, beta blockers for poker players and shooters, ibuprofen and cortisone for football players, to good old-fashioned, muscle-building steroids and human growth hormone in the future.

  3. How far are we from the All-Drug Olympics? SNL featured this in 1988!

  4. I just think you have to draw the line at drugs that are legal versus those that are not legal. The "gray area" drugs like DHEA apparently was need to have lots of questions asked and tests done. If they are found to be not legal in the sport, then that needs to be communicated loudly and clearly along with the reason why.

    Legal stuff like cigarettes are fine. If you eat right, that is a significant performance boost for you. What is the difference between bikers pounding Powerbar Gel (TM) in the middle of a race and Angel Cabrera smoking a cigarette?

  5. And yes, I should've mentioned that this article came from a link in Simmons' twitter feed. So yet again he feeds me a topic on PEDs and I discuss it immediately.

  6. How does the FDA decide if a drug is legal, prescription-only, or illegal?

  7. Great question. I can do some research, but not this afternoon

  8. So far I can't find a good, all-inclusive site, but I did find the following passage relating to shady dietary supplements from an admittedly off-color website:

    "With a drug, the manufacturer must prove it is safe. With a dietary supplement, the burden of proof rests more on the FDA. To ban a dietary supplement, the FDA must demonstrate a significant or unreasonable risk to the consumer. This constraint can make it challenging for the FDA to protect the public in a timely manner. Adding to the difficulty, if manufacturers of supplements become aware of side effects, they are not required to report them to the FDA."

    So I guess there is some burden of proof as far as testing a drug or supplement for its potential health risks. I will try to find more detail.

    (Amusing sidenote: the second entry down from that quote is about "Wild Yams"... ooookay...)

  9. Well I think the point to take is that the FDA is designed to determine if a drug is safe or if a dietary supplement does pose an unreasonable risk to the consumer.

    So, if a drug is legal, it is supposed to be safe/unharmful. Illegal drugs (such as PEDs) are not safe and/or harmful.

    Just out of curiosity, has there been any research into whether or not HGH is harmful?

  10. I read on another site that HGH is not considered a controlled substance, because it can be prescribed by doctors to help heal certain injuries, but it is illegal to be carrying it outside of a doctor's office and without it being administered.

    So I guess that is a gray area? I'll try to find the exact passage, but it sounds like it has specific applications where it is worth using. Apart from those applications maybe it poses more harm than good.

  11. Random thought from this article - it said the effects of DHEA were noticed on "military combat divers." First of all, what is a military combat diver? That sounds completely badass.

    Second, does that mean we are giving our troops PEDs? A beta blocker or DHEA that kept you level in the heat of the moment would make a lot of sense for, say, a sniper or whatever. And if our elite troops were doing blood doping for endurance on long on-foot missions, that would make sense too, right? Where is the ethical line where it's not okay for soliders just like it's not okay for athletes?

  12. Military combat diver is just a generic term for these guys. Their history and experience is in underwater demolition.

    Living in San Diego, I've known a few, including one who would practice swimming a length of the pool and back in one breath. Underwater, with his feet tied together and his hands tied behind his back.