Hoover Daily Report

The Urine Police

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Home run king Barry Bond's personal trainer has been charged with illegal drug distribution, adding fuel to the rumors that Bonds has used anabolic steroids to bulk up his already muscular frame. But there are plenty of other bigger and stronger guys than Barry Bonds who could spend a lifetime at home plate without ever banging a home run into San Francisco Bay.

Bond's incredible home run hitting ability also comes from his extraordinarily keen eyesight, superb reflexes, sense of balance, knowledge of the game, and brain wiring that we can only guess at. So the question is, would we have unleashed the urine police, federal agents, prosecutors, and a grand jury if a jock had been suspected of taking drugs to enhance his eyesight or other physical characteristics possessed by great athletes?

The muddled answer that we get from the mother of all nannies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is that these anabolic steroids, synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone, may, in future years, be shown to be dangerous to health and should be "nipped in the bud." Really? My cardiologist tells me that aspirin could be fatal for me, as it is for several thousand Americans a year, because it conflicts with other medications. If we're worrying about danger, shouldn't we also outlaw skateboarding, surfing, downhill skiing, horseback riding, mountain climbing, skydiving, ice cream, chocolate, and bacon cheeseburgers?

The standard warnings on prescription and over-the-counter medicines are similar to the mumbo jumbo about steroids from the FDA. Indeed, the absence of class action lawsuits suggests that the ever-alert class action lawyers haven't even discovered this health crisis. Nor do the nebulous claims from establishment guardians of virtuosity in youthful athletes that we must have a "level playing field" for all make sense. I have news for them. When Barry Bonds and his fellow greats were born, only a handful of others were on a level playing field with them.

I'm no advocate of testosterone or other diet supplements. In fact, a couple of times a week, my senior men's doubles group watches in envy as the slender youngsters on the Stanford women's tennis team hit tennis balls fifty or seventy miles an hour faster than we bulked men are able to do. Their superior timing, technique, and training would drive us off the court in five minutes.

As someone who spent most of his life as a police officer, I think the government should be spending its resources and our money finding bin Laden and destroying Al Queda, not launching investigations into which jocks are using supplements determined immoral by the federal government.