How often have you heard the word “steroids” in the past few months? Here’s the answer: too many. Steroids have become the breakfast of choice for athletes around the world, but not because they have any choice in the matter. Like a virus, it starts with one athlete that feels the need to juice up, and then spreads as every other athlete needs to keep the pace. The steroid problem needs to stop at the source, whatever that might be.
Much of the time the use of steroids isn’t even the choice of the athlete, but that of the coach. As in the case of Barry Bonds’ claiming ignorance to being enhanced with BALCO products, there are instances where steroids are used without knowledge or consent. Do we see coaches facing mass media criticism for the less-than-legal actions they took? You never see the real culprits in the spotlight, unless you count Greg Anderson, and does anybody even remember him? He was Bonds’ personal weight trainer, in case you forgot. What we do see these days is the destruction of some of our finest heroes by petty drug dealers posing as corporate entities.
The idea of steroids in professional sports seems to have been attached to baseball in the recent past, but the focus of mainstream media has a new target: The Olympics. With the winter games in Turin comes a dark cloud of past Olympic steroid scandals, but the fun is far from over. Steroids have made another appearance in the Olympic arena.
Austrian living quarters were raided by Italian police in response to the presence of Walter Mayer, a coach who was linked to blood doping in the Salt Lake City games of 2002 and subsequently banned. When he showed up at the games and began associating with athletes, the cops got suspicious and knew something was fishy. Two of Austria’s athletes who fled the raid have already confessed to using potentially illegal methods. They will be investigated, and hopefully banned from any Olympics for the rest of time.
Mayer fled to Austria after the news of the raid, which revealed blood transfusion equipment and various unlabeled drugs, along with hundreds of syringes. He tried to kill himself using his car outside the border of Austria when he saw a police barricade had been erected.
“I was completely shattered, I couldn’t think clearly,” Mayer said in an Associated Press interview. “When something like that happens to you, you are in an extraordinary mental situation. I wanted to take my own life, because my world had been destroyed. I wanted to end my life with the car.” Mayer is also quoted as saying he had no medical equipment with him.
Investigators say that the living quarters of Walter Mayer revealed syringes, contrary to his claim. He was caught red handed with medical equipment he said he did not have, and he should be reprimanded. The International Olympic Committee, one of the groups responsible for maintaining the Olympic Games, could sanction the Austrians. That could severely damage Austria’s chances at hosting the 2014 Winter Games.
If the world does not kill steroid use at the root, it will continue to be a problem. This dangerous game of drug enhanced athletes can only escalate unless people are truly punished for their actions. If coaches and players continue to be let off the hook for their drug usage, an entire generation of the world’s heroes in the world of sports could be condemned to face deadly health issues. Is it worth it to kill yourself for international glory? As we have found in the past and will continue to see in the future, apparently it is.