Steroids: Platz votes yes, docs no
TOM Platz’ years of mental and physical dedication alone haven’t made him a champion, he said. What gave him the edge? Steroids.
“Yes, I take steroids, I don’t deny it,” Platz said. uIt means the difference between losing and six figures.
“If (the use of) steroids is the death of bodybuilding, then it will be the death of nearly all professional sports.”
The official policy of Joe Weider Olympians, whose products he represents, is that Platz does not take steroids, or synthetic male sex hormones.
“Eight years ago, we came out against steroids,” said Larry Taylor, president of JWO Japan. “We won’t have anything to do with anybody we have even the slightest suspicion is involved with that.”
The magazines Joe Weider publishes Flex, Shape and Muscle & Fitness clearly list the doctors’ warnings against steroid use. These are some of the possible side effects cited in one issue of Muscle & Fitness, for example:
“In 80 percent of regular users, steroids cause detectable liver damage
Prolonged steroid use can also decrease the size, function and sperm production of the testicles . . . Cancer may be a risk . . . Steroids can also cause the growth plates in the long bones to close prematurely. Many athletes continue to grow throughout their teens, and steroids can cut this growth short.”
CllUCk Wilson, managing director of Tokyo’s Clark Hatch Fitness Centers, said, “I really can’t in good conscience condone something that is intrinsically damaging to somebody’s health. It’s the whole mentality of winning at any cost. If these people think that winning is worth any physical, mental or moral cost, then they’re just crippling themselves to get that extra 10 percent.”
Dr. Frank Bongiorno, a vascular and general surgeon at Yokota AB, Japan, trains six days a week as a powerlifter and bodybuilder. He says the many unknowns associated with steroid use make it a risk not worth taking.
Doctors do not know how anabolic steroids actually work. Some think they increase muscle bulk, creating thicker, heftier muscles. Others think they increase endurance so an athlete can add more bulk.
A third theory is that the effect of steroids is purely psychological. This mental boost shouldn’t be underestimated, Bongiorno said. If steroids can give a builder the determination to stick with training six days a week, he will put on more bulk.
Some doctors worry about long-term risks associated with steroid use, including, cardiovascular problems, Bongiorno said.
“I think if you’ve bulked up artificially, you always pay the piper later on. If you heighten muscle response early, to me it’s reasonable that you’d deteriorate earlier.
“The effect on the liver from an overdose is irreversible,” Bongiorno said. “Plus, the steroids seem to last in an athlete’s system for three months. For three months, even if they don’t take steroids, they suppress their own male hormones. That, to me, is scary.”
When women take male hormones, they develop secondary male sex characteristics, including deeper voices, facial hair and the ability to bulk up their arms and shoulders. Their breasts shrink, they stop menstruating, and they run an increased risk of sterility or bearing defective offspring.
When asked if she uses steroids, Rachel McLish responded with as much energy as she’d shown at the peak of her posing routine.
“Absolutely not. Steroids, chemically, are the difference between men and women. Once you start using steroids, you start turning yourself chemically into a man. That’s the last thing I want to do.”
Steroids: Platz votes yes, docs no