Steroid Abuse, Jason Giambi & Barry Bonds
Frank commentary the other day by sportswriter Neil Hayes. He focused on baseball star Jason Giambi's steroid use and its bad effects on his career -- specifically, his health. He also brings in Barry Bonds's continuing struggle against a stubborn staph infection.
Maybe [Giambi's] plight will finally make people realize that steroids DO help you hit the ball....They can make an average hitter good and a good hitter great....Giambi offers living proof. He hasn't been the same player since he stopped using steroids after the 2003 All-Star Game.
He should tour the country preaching anti-steroid messages to kids when his career is over....He could talk about how steroids lower the body's immune system. It's a medical fact that may explain why Giambi suffered from a knee injury, an intestinal parasite, a strained groin, a pituitary gland tumor and a staph infection in both eyes during the past two years.
We don't know if those health problems are related to his steroid use but common sense tells us there must be a link, just like common sense tells us that Barry Bonds' knee problem could be a side effect of steroid abuse.
Steroid abuse can destroy joints and prevent healing. Look it up. Steroids cause a person to bulk up, putting more pressure on knee and ankle joints. Steroids break down the ligaments and tendons that help support those joints.
Steroids can actually slow the healing process, which can result in someone who typically bounces back quickly from injury taking longer to heal. Lowered immunity might also explain how someone [Bonds] might develop an infection during an arthroscopic procedure where the risk of infection is so infinitesimal that many orthopedists don't even use intravenous antibiotics.
There's a lot we can learn about steroids, all right. Now that we better understand the upside we are starting to learn about the downside.
Maybe that's what it will take, two superstars eroding before our very eyes, to make people realize this stuff is dangerous.
Note: For more on steroids in baseball, check out Jose Canseco's controversial memoir, Juiced, and a physician's more thoughtful look, When Winning Costs Too Much.
Update 25 May 2005: This Wall Street Journal op-ed has some interesting thoughts on the effects of steroid use on baseball's reputation.
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