Thursday, May 22, 2008

Drug use in Sports

Its been awhile since I have sat down and “blogged” or rambled but today I could not help it. In the past two weeks I have been approached by top athletes in two different sports asking me how to “beat a drug test” or “how long does it take for certain drugs to leave the system so I know when to stop before my drug test”. This is not the first time I have been asked these questions, in fact, I have been asked these questions for almost as long as I have been a Sports Doctor involved in high level sports.

Bare with me in my rambles and believe me, in time I will get to my point (if your still awake and with me). My first question back to these athletes is “what is the price you are willing to pay and how do you want to be remembered?” Cheaters NEVER win in the long haul. Look at Pete Rose, one of the greatest MLB players of all time yet he is remembered more for is gambling conviction, Dennis Rodman, one of the greatest defensive players Basketball has ever seen yet he is remembered for his off court antics and his lack of professionalism, Roger Clemens, one of the best pitchers the league has ever seen, yet now, you know him only as a cheater, Barry Bonds- need I say more. The list goes on and on from cycling to track and field and everything in between. Athletes who worked their entire life to get on the podium of greatness only to be remembered more for their mistakes in judgment or willingness to sell themselves for the short term goal and not thinking of the long term consequences.

It’s sad really that society puts so much pressure on “greatness” yet will shoot you down and bury you if you take a short cut. With a son in sports I have begun to drill into him that hard work, and taking the high road will always lead to “self satisfaction and greatness” and taking the quick path will only leave you with a temporary high and a life of regret.

Part of the problem is the athletes themselves can be so easily persuaded. They can be fierce on the field but weak with peer pressure. You hang around sports long enough and you will hear, “you want to go faster, take this” “You hurt and want to keep going, take this”, “you want to heal faster so you can compete, take this”. Its amazing that with all the info out there on the long term affects of drug abuse or performance enhancing drugs that athletes will still take the risk because they feel that “that happens to other guys, but not me” and they are willing to risk the unknown future for the immediate present. Put that question to Roger Clemens or Floyd Landis now.

I read a study when I first got out of school that back in the 80s they told NFL players that by signing the contract to become a Pro Football player that their life expectancy would drop to the mid 50’s due to the abuse and drugs they would have to take, and yet everyone still signed the contracts. They stated that “living the dream and ‘15 minutes of fame’ was worth it”. Ask Lyle Alzaedo if he still ageed before he died. He didn’t and spent his remaining years talking about his regrets. Not a great way to die and not how I want to be remembered.

Sure, Drugs can help you with pain control, or perform super human feats but how satisfying are those feats when you did not do it under your own God given power. I hear all the time, “everyone else is doing it”. Yep, you maybe right, but at what point do you become a leader and say “yes but I am not”. You have heard the saying “if everyone jumped off a bridge without a paracute would you still do it”. Are we herds of cattle that follow our packs like robots or are we true humans with personal thoughts? Why can’t an athlete be remembered for his greatness on and off the field, for his hard work, dedication and ethics? I love sports, I was never at the top of the game but that did not change my views on how much love I got out of competition. I am asked at times why I climb high mountains and my answer is also the best explanation I can give to athletes who question whether or not they should take drugs. “It’s not reaching the summit that give me my high, it’s the journey that takes me there that does”.

In closing, when dealing with your kids, fellow athletes or your friends, ask them who their true heroes are? Are they the athletes out there taking the drugs and cheating to win, OR are they their parents, teachers, mentors and or true friends who love them whether or not they are famous. Cheating never gets you anywhere in the long run and it will always leave you with regret and emptiness. Hard work and passion will always win in the end.

If you want to learn more about the abuse of drugs in sports you can start with these links and go from there:

Drugs and illegal performance enhancers have been around since the dawn of time and are not going away. It’s your choice which road you want to go down and which road you ultimately want to be remembered for. Be a leader and choose the less traveled road of truth, ethics, hard work and self satisfaction and you will enjoy a full and amazing life beyond your wildest dreams.

Comments are welcomed,

Dr. Terry

1 comment:

bwhite said...

Thanks Dr. Terry for all your help with Successfulliving Pro Cycling team. You were a great help at Cascade Cycling Classic. As a Pro cyclist where you hear a lot about drug abuse you have to put it out of your head and race believing you can beat anyone, even the cheats. I don't see how one could enjoy that 15 sec. of fame knowing they cheated. Keep up the good work and thanks for good words!

Brad White