Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Druggists Take on Performance Enhancing Drugs

Being born in the mid 80's, I was just old enough but not quite old enough to be excited by but not totally understand the second 3 peat of Michael Jordan's Bulls. I don't think I ever knew when the games were on but I somehow ended up catching most of the games on a 14 inch tube screen with an odd color problem making everything slightly yellow. And somehow I would watch these games alone in my basement - just the way I liked it - free to think about the game on my own. 
The Bane of the Hale's Existence

What drew me into admiring the Bulls during that run wasn't the popularity or style that MJ was so known for. It was the transcendence of his talent. On the biggest stage in the NBA he still stood out as a truly transcendent player - maximizing his physical abilities. 

One of the major aspects of my NBA entertainment experience is witnessing players play at the absolute maximum of their abilities and transcending what I think is humanly possible.


Remember Monotesticle Lance? He was vilified for using performance enhancing drugs and 'cheating' his way to overcoming human limits - but before he was caught, it was exciting. 

5 Fingers but only 1 testicle
What if using PEDs were legal? Would we view the great athletes of our day who used PEDs differently? Would they go down in the record books without an asterisk next to their name?

I think that part of maximizing talent by professional athletes should legally include the safe and effective use of PEDs. 

If a banned substance (like HGH or erythropoietin) helps athletes to recover from injuries faster, why are they unable to use it? Don't we want to see them back sooner rather than later? If a banned substance (like testosterone) can be used safely to maximize physical abilities then what is the problem?

Some of the substances banned by the NBA are used routinely in the healthcare system to aid in recovery of patients suffering from a wide variety of ailments. So to me, it doesn't make sense that players should be banned from using them. What happens when you ban substances like these is that players find a way to use them without getting caught - or by using masking agents. Masking agents are drugs used to cover up the presence of PEDs on blood tests and these agents are diuretics which can put athletes at further risk. 

Take Furosemide for example, routinely used in people with heart failure to rid their body of excess retained fluid. Furosemide depletes your body of potassium - an electrolyte essential for muscle contraction. When your muscles don't contract properly damage, cramps and even death could occur (remember your heart is a pretty important muscle).

If players didn't have to cover up their PED use (which will happen regardless of rules) they wouldn't have to go to extreme lengths to cover them up and put their health at further risk.

What I propose is an enabling approach to PED use in the NBA. That is, allow the use of substances that are proven effective but only under the DIRECT supervision of a team physician. Bodybuilders have been doing this with steroids for years! This would ensure both the SAFE & EFFECTIVE use of PEDs. 

Legally players would could recover from injury quicker, avoid inappropriate use of these drugs and maximize their physical abilities.

I hope to see an NBA where most players who enter the league can reach their maximum potential. Especially when players like Derrick Rose (a transcendent talent) is hampered by injuries early in his career and may not even reach 10 seasons in the league. I feel like an enabling approach to PED use is one of many options not being utilized that may prolong and enhance the careers of many athletes. 

Side note: Among some other ridiculous banned substances is pseudoephedrine - the drug in cough and cold medication used to unclog your nose (also used to make methamphetamine... but I doubt many NBA players need to be in that business). If abused there can be some issues with pseudoephedrine but if a player has a cold he can't even use this???