Imagine having the strength and power of Hercules, a rippling Spartan six-pack that would make the grand canyon look like a backyard hill.
14 October 2011 | SEAN VAN STADEN | SPORTS COLUMNIST
While we are at it, let’s throw some successful traits of speed and victory, from the mythological goddess Nike.
This all sounds fantastic. Right?
Every young, amateur or professional sportsman dreams to be offered these gifts from the gods but it comes at a price?
The price of a synthetically manmade substance called anabolic steroids. Is it that simple to acquire these godly gifts by popping a few pills, injecting a few muscles or sprinkling some powder over your cereal in the morning?
Or could your thoughts of grandeur be fuelling your fantasy and clouding your judgement?
Where does it all begin? Jog down to your local pharmacy and see which section has a dedicated sales representative and takes up more space than any other products sold.
You guessed right and don’t play coy with me, you knew exactly where the supplement section was.
I even bet they have spent more time sipping or ingesting these chemical products than a drunk with a hip flask.
The realities of these products are the “performance gains” which claim, are as elusive as water in a desert.
These products leave you with doubt and confusion to why they are not working. Was it me or was it the product? Did I load or stack as recommended by the instructions on the packaging?
Angry at spending so much money with no results, you vow never to use supplements again and reaffirm to yourself, natural is the best way to go. Your path of naturalism reigns, right up until you happen to wander back into your pharmacy where your dealer is happily waiting with open arms to punt the next greatest claim to gain.
Months later, the false promises continue and you are no better off than when you started – and with an empty wallet. Make no mistake, the cycle, if not controlled, will continue.
Could so many athletes be drawn into taking steroids because it is the next progressive step up from freely available supplements?
Could athletes’ search for the next best product lure them into the quick fix that steroids have to offer? I believe so, but at what price?
Athletes are very accustomed to taking multiple shakes and sometimes up to 10 tablets two to three times a day.
The next progressive step would be to take steroids in the tablet form. It is less evasive as some of the other illegally available products but is a starting point where athletes test the waters.
When you realise that the effects are short lived you will move on to the injectable steroids where you are required to insert a syringe in the different muscle groups which allow for a longer performance gain or “pump” as they call it.
Have you stopped to consider the price you will possibly pay?
If you are male you have an increased risk of high blood pressure, infertility, baldness, liver damage and prostate cancer to name a few and if that is not enough to scare the hell out of you, how about the shrinking of your testicles and man breasts.
For a woman, you run the risk of looking like a bald orangutan with increased facial hair with a receding hairline. And that’s not all. You will also experience changes in cessation of menstrual cycles and to top it off you could possibly develop a manly voice.
You be the judge, is the vanity and sporting success really worth the risk of living a life full of pain or are you better off getting results the old fashioned way … through hard work?
Sean is a sports scientist and director of Advanced Sports Performance.
Catch his column in The Citizen every fortnight.
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