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A Description of Steroids - The New York Times
There appears to be growing sentiment in the National Football League -among management, players and possibly even the union - to require year-round testing for anabolic steroids in an effort to reduce their use. This year, the league added steroids to the list of drugs for which it tests players and for which it can punish them. More than 2, players were tested in training camps and the results are scheduled to be announced early next week after the league notifies the clubs and players involved.
Another positive test will mean a suspension for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. The league, criticized in recent years for its soft stance on steroid use, acted after evidence of high blood pressure, lower sperm count and damaged kidneys was found in some long-term steroid users.
Beyond that, there were questions of sportsmanship: But precisely because football players believed that steroids, used in conjunction with exercise and diet, allowed them to achieve higher levels of strength, the drugs had been particular favorites, despite the reported risks. Because it is easy to avoid detection if the test is administered at a specific time only once a year, many officials and players believe that random, year-round testing may be the answer.
Reveiz said that at a union meeting last month ''there was a big sentiment for further tests. The Players Association has agreed to testing in the preseason, but has opposed year-round random testing as a violation of players' rights. But there are indications that it may be softening its stance on that.
Dick Berthelsen, the union's general counsel, expressed reservations about testing, but acknowledged that the issue of steroids ''is a separate issue from street drugs. How prevalent is steroid use? Estimates vary from 6 percent to more than 50 percent; but most of the evidence is anecdotal. Since then there's been a definite decline. This does not mean that half the offensive and defensive linemen in the N. It is generally agreed that the use has been more prevalent in college and even high school than in the N.
Tests conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association last year put the college figure at 9 percent. Third Summer of Tests. Official testing for steroids has been administered by the N. For the first two years - when there were no sanctions involved -the figure announced for those testing positive was only 6 percent, a number that surprised many.
But medical experts and players say that while that figure could be accurate, it also could be almost meaningless. It is easy to cheat. Brian Hainline are co-authors of ''Drugs and the Athlete,'' a book recently published by F. Davis and acclaimed as the most significant study of the problem.
Thus, that 6 percent figure could be accurate, or it could be just a bare minimum. The answer, he said, was ''year-round, random testing,'' not just an announced, once-a-year test. Hainline, who, like Dr. Wadler, teaches at Cornell University Medical College. You have to go back to what is the essence of sports. If baseball rules that cork in the bat is illegal, then you're allowed to test a bat to see if it's got cork. It should be the same for football.
If the rules state you can't use a chemical to get an advantage, then the league should be free to test for that chemical just as a baseball umpire can test for cork in a bat, or a boxing referee can check a glove for lead.
Officials expect to see a decline, if not an eradication, in the number of N. So do the players. We're concerned with our image. It hurts us the way people perceive us, it hurts us in endorsements we don't get. Although he has admitted using steroids at the University of Pittsburgh, he is now an outspoken critic of steroids and contends that as many as 75 percent of linemen and linebackers in the N.
He remains dubious of the league's testing procedure. View all New York Times newsletters. All you have to do is stop taking them a month before, then take them the next day and you're good for a year.
Fralic contended that ''by observation, and by what I know, the figures in the N. Virtually everyone in the N. But Steve Courson, a former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman, made it a public issue some years ago when he contended in an article in Sports Illustrated that use was widespread.
Courson, now 33 years old, is suffering from a weakened heart wall and is waiting for a heart donor. He admited there is no scientific proof that steroids led to his condition. But he believes the virus he caught that eventually weakened the wall resulted from his steady and prolonged steroid use.
Courson's allegation of 50 percent use especially alarmed critics of steroids. But Courson now explains that the number was based on his observations, ''and that I meant that half the players, at some time in their careers, high school college or pro, used steroids. Many in the N. Looking Like Football Players. Mike Hickey has been examining college prospects for the Jets since , as player personnel director.
He admits that when he was in college, he tried steroids to see if they could help him throw the discus farther.
Now they're looking like football players again and not body-builders. He was one of 10 collegians of the tested by the National Football Scouting combine who showed steroid use. Cadigan, an offensive lineman, explained he took the drugs only after his college career at Southern California had ended, saying he did so to ''look good for the scouts. He outlifted every other offensive lineman. Use Seems to Be Slowing. This year, steroid detection at the combine was down even from last year's rather low figure.
Harry Buffington, director of the combine, said that not one collegian tested positive for steroids. That figure is disputed by several people familiar with the college scene, but the rate still appears to be lower than in previous years. But, he added, unless the testing is year-round and random, ''Your hard-core people will beat the test. Will the Players Association accept random testing? Berthelsen, the general counsel, said: There's serious questions about rights. When asked whether he agreed with Dr.
Hainline's contention that it was a question of the rules and not just rights, Berthelsen said: But you can see steroids is a separate issue from street drugs.
Once the risks have been made known to players, they've stopped using them. Berthelsen said the union has never agreed with some players' claims that 50 percent use steroids.
The union, while still wary about random tests, may nevertheless be ready to consider testing in a broader way, and possibly include it as part of the collective bargaining process. It's the only way to insure that everyone is free of it and no one has an advantage. Please upgrade your browser. View page in TimesMachine.
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