Doping for performance enhancement in sport is nothing new.
Way before BALCO, Bonds and Giambi, a group of swimmers in 1860s Amsterdam were charged with taking drugs so they could go faster in their races. In 1935, the male hormone testosterone was first synthesized; by the 1940s, it was being used widely in competitive sports. At the 1952 Olympics, the Russian weightlifting and wrestling teams dominated those sports, at least in part because of synthetic testosterone. Then there were the East German women swimmers, who swept gold in all but two events at the 1976 games. Before that Olympics, they’d barely made a peep on the world competitive stage. In Montreal, however, their peeps became deep baritones; and their glittering coming-out party should have included shaving kits for their excess facial hair.
No, what is news in the world of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs is the fact that a personal fitness trainer (PFT)—Barry Bonds’s trainer and longtime friend Greg Anderson—is at the vortex of the current scandal that concerns BALCO, the Burlingame, California, lab that federal authorities say was at the center of a steroid distribution ring. What is news is how the web that unraveled during grand-jury testimony given in December 2003 has managed to put the personal training industry at the receiving end of another very public black eye.
Bonds testified that Anderson gave him “the cream,” a topical steroid Bonds said he believed was a “rubbing balm for arthritis,” and “the clear,” a designer liquid steroid that is dropped under the tongue and which Bonds said he thought was flaxseed oil. “I never asked Greg” what the products contained, Bonds reportedly told the grand jury for the BALCO case, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. If all this is true, then Anderson is not only a trainer who stepped over and spit on the scope-of-practice line while distributing an illegal substance; he’s also a deceitful person with little regard for a friend’s health. For the record, sports columnists and other close watchers of baseball have expressed strong skepticism that Bonds didn’t know that the combination of the cream and the clear was a sophisticated steroid cocktail.
The toothpaste, or should we say the cream, is out of the tube on this one. A veteran IDEA PFT member recently told us that illegal substances for image and performance enhancement are ubiquitous in many fitness facilities, especially in large city markets. With 8th graders and high schoolers gripped by body image issues and aging males desperate to recapture a taste of their youth—not to mention all the bodybuilders and athletes in between—the availability and use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs have become widespread and disturbingly de rigueur. When personal trainers, who should be at the forefront of education and prevention, are abetting the crime—as it appears Anderson did—where is there hope to stop it?
We invest our hope in IDEA members—the credible, the clear and the cream of the PFT crop. Look for an in-depth report on the science, ethics and professional responsibility regarding steroid use in our Men’s Health & Fitness Issue, coming up in May. We look forward to providing you with more education about this important topic so you can guide your clients with a firm grasp of the research and stay within your scope of practice.
Yours in good health,
Kathie and Peter Davis