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Sanity Zone 2-6-2013 I Want a New Drug

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Posted 02-06-2013 at 07:49 AM by xan

It's time to have a seismic shift in our thinking about the roll drugs play in sports. To set the argument, let's use the example of a non-sports person getting medical attention. From there, we can extend the analysis to explore where we might alter our standards.

Dispensing with the gory details, the key difference between the athlete and the non-athlete with a similar injury is the drug treatment. If the non-athlete uses steroids or HGH or EPO, she will heal faster, have less scar tissue and will have fewer referred injuries (injuries to other areas of the body due to natural compensation away from the injury.) Let's even stipulate that the regimen the non-athlete would take is non-standard and carries some risk. However, the non-athlete won't lose her job, won't be fined, won't have the higher risk of recidivistic injury. Future health issues may be mitigated.

May be. Who knows. Regenerative medicine is in its infancy, despite the massive focus since the first Neanderthal twisted his ankle chasing a wildebeast. Science and medical technology has advanced so much in the last decade that we can map out in exquisite detail biochemical sequence of wound healing, inflammation, and pain. We can create molecules and therapeutic sequences that can up-regulate or down-regulate many biological processes to achieve a desired result.

Unfortunately, we have a bias against using these therapies because they might confer an unfair competitive advantage. Hence, we ban usage for professionals and seriously discourage it for the non-athlete. We rail against the ravages of time and accident, but we vilify those who experiment. We (everyone) have a common interest in being healthy. Why not create a system of therapeutic investigation that identifies the best methods and safely administers them?

Instead of isolating athletes, use their motivation for health and safety to hone the science. This class of citizen has more to lose both in the short and long run that it makes sense to institutionalize regenerative medicine for them so that standards of safety and efficacy can be enforced. Further, legitimizing and institutionalizing the experimental treatments can allow athletes to compete fairly, with guidelines identifying points in which an athlete would be withheld due to competitive advantage during his/her treatments.

Because we use our professional athletes as our social standards, stigmas about these treatments transcend class. If we accept that there are rational and acceptable instances in which some currently banned therapies are clinically useful, and that novel therapies should not be tested in closets, hidden in beer cans, we can advance the understanding of when and for whom therapies may be of use.

We should stop villainizing the Lance Armstrongs and the A-Rods. They are taking the risks (albeit stupidly) that our culture is so conflicted about. They want to heal faster, more completely. Anyone who has had an injury can relate to the desire to get back on the bike or step up to the plate. And we can especially relate to the fact that some injuries won't ever leave us the same.

It doesn't have to be this way.
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  1. Old Comment
    In my opinion, there should be limits to the use of steroids, but not all out bans. Because I agree that steroids have been proven quite useful in speeding up recovery, as well as aiding in a more complete recovery. But they have also been proven to have negative effects when used for the wrong reasons over the long term.

    Drugs should not be used to build muscle, period. Don't care if you're an athlete or not. It can degenerate cartilage, cause heart problems, massive mood swings and much, much more. Using anabolic steroids strictly for growing muscle means prolonged use, and potentially major consequences.

    In sports, you see people suspended for ABUSING drugs, and then you have those who use them for health reasons, and they are treated exactly the same. I see no reason why all sports can't simply ban recreational use, and allow medical use. This can be done by allowing athletes to request permission to use for medical treatment, have the athletes present signed medical documents to their respective league offices, showing proof of use, time frame of each usage, along with the athlete's signed consent and knowledge to whatever treatment he or she received.

    With all athletes having these same rights and guidelines, there would be no competitive advantage, no excuse in court of saying "I was trying to rehab from surgery, and didn't know I was receiving a banned subtance", no confusion as to the reason of use from a fan's perspective, and they would have the opportunity to heal in the same way that any average citizen does without the worry of being penalized.

    All abuse of drugs (any usage without the previously mentioned documents of consent and legality) would continue to carry the appropriate penalties, without so many of the long and unnecessary legal battles. Because players often use the "logic" that they were unaware of what they were taking. In truth, anything that can help you heal faster should not be banned, but it is, and athletes should always be aware of what is or is not legal. Giving medical rights, and taking away excuses from those who abuse drugs should really speed up the legal process, and (maybe) deter them from future violations. It would at least draw a line between the cheaters and those who honestly aren't looking for an advantage.

    I have no sympathy for people like Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens. They used steroids for advantage, and knew it was illegal. Armstrong may have needed some help getting into shape after cancer, but we now know that he used well beyond his rehab.

    As for players who took steroids before they were banned; I think they showed a lack of character, but they are not technically cheaters. For this reason I think it's stupid that you have sportswriters standing on their high horse 25 years later, talking about morality of players, when they had good reason to believe this was going on back then and yet said nothing about it. The hypocrisy bugs me.
    Posted 02-07-2013 at 05:38 AM by burningmetal burningmetal is offline

  2. Old Comment
    saintfan's Avatar
    So, is this about recovery or is this about an advantage on the field? If recovery then I think, as you suggest, it's a no-brainer.

    But, if it's about an on-the-field-advantage (think Barry Bonds) then it's different.

    Then again, I'm less bothered by Barry's roiding than I am by his wearing of armor at the plate because he's chicken ****. Personally I would have thrown at his head at least once an at-bat to remind him how owns the inner half.
    Posted 02-13-2013 at 05:30 PM by saintfan saintfan is offline
  3. Old Comment
    xan's Avatar
    For most players, repetitive task injuries and sudden impact trauma injuries are the primary reason for taking steroids. Faster recovery means performing at a higher level longer. Strength training simultaneously builds muscle while tearing it down, which requires a recovery period. The longer the recovery period, the less benefit one gets from the training. The steroids, especially for older players, for whom deterioration of their immune systems has accellerated thereby lengthening the recovery period, minimize the effects of injury so that muscle mass can be retained and/or built.

    The average Joe/Jane experiences the same issues as the professional athlete, but the urgency to address the issues don't arise until later in life, sometimes when it is too late to manage. Dedicating a rational clinical methodology to studying the syndromes rather than "criminalize" them may benefit everyone in the long run and reduce the potential for negative consequences for the professional athlete in the short run.
    Posted 02-14-2013 at 08:52 AM by xan xan is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Well what is your opinion on the use of steroids, as of now, without studying it? Do you think it's good or bad? Or do you believe it can be good if used in proper increments?

    As I said above, I think it's fine to use steroids to recover from injury. I think it should be legal for that use only. The fact that it's totally banned from sports seems rather self righteous of these sports entities. There are negative side effects, and that as already been established. I don't think more research is really necessary to determine whether or not steroids should be legalized.

    If regular citizens can use it, so should athletes. If you take steroids after your rehabilitation is completed, then you deserve to be punished. Aside from advantages, it's just plain not smart, health wise, to use these drugs over an extended period of time.
    Posted 02-14-2013 at 10:33 AM by burningmetal burningmetal is offline
  5. Old Comment
    xan's Avatar
    To begin, I don't believe any discussion about the role of drugs in regenerative health should be limited to steroids. There are many other classes of immunoregulators that are banned or severely restricted that don't operated on the same pathways. The ultimate issue is the ethics of investigation. How do we study a therapy in isolation without being able to verify its efficacy in the context in which it will be used. One can't tell if a drug improves health but doesn't improve performance without allowing the competitor to engage in the activity that causes the injury. I think that there are a lot of myths about any drug's potential because there is simply no peer reviewed active controlled data to support or refute any claim. What we wind up getting is an underground of misuse and misrepresentation that puts the athlete at risk and derails advancement of potentially viable therapies.

    If we can move beyond the parochialness of willful ignorance, there may be ways to advance the science without compromising the integrity of fair sportsmanship. Until we actually study it and remove the stigmas, we can rely on the same frustrating cycle of masking and evading and "cheating" because the economic incentives are too great to not.
    Posted 02-15-2013 at 07:43 AM by xan xan is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Yet again, you refuse to answer a question. I'm not even arguing with you, necessarily. I'm asking what your view is. Should they remain banned? Yes or no will do.

    Again, PED's HAVE been studied for years. Is there more to learn about them? Sure, I would think so. But everyone knows the main risks of these drugs, and there is a reason you have to have a prescription. In the case of athletes, it is seen as an unfair advantage. Whether or not you believe it gives an athlete any advantage, I think in the case of rehabilitating, it should be allowed. If you are being supervised, where your doses are being charted, then you can regulate how much an athlete is using. You're not going to gain an advantage unless you use constantly. That is where the line should be drawn between use, and abuse.

    Doctors would not prescribe these drugs to patients without first testing them for effectiveness. I think you are making a grand assumption by suggesting we don't know enough about these drugs. I think we know plenty. But it has been deemed immoral for athletes to EVER use these drugs. Why, I don't know. That is the issue. And that should be the conversation.

    Not more testing.
    Posted 02-15-2013 at 10:09 AM by burningmetal burningmetal is offline
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