Thursday, August 04, 2005



to judge Raffy! Because there are, in fact, any number of ways that he could have accidentally taken steroids and not known about it! It happens all the time, and may even have happened to you, if you take supplements to enhance your workouts. I'll discuss the most obvious and likely ways here.

Let's start with DMSO. This is a wonderful substance that you rub on like liniment. It absorbs very quickly into the skin and promotes healing by quickly promoting increased blood flow to a given area. DMSO is found in every college and professional locker room, every gym with serious bodybuilders, probably most hs locker rooms. My elderly canoe buddies and myself use it all the time. You can't beat it for muscle or joint injuries and soreness. But.. it's technically illegal to use in this manner. It has never been approved for use on humans, and is manufactured as an industrial solvent. It is turned into an ointment by small mom and pop companies, and you have to know someone who knows someone to get it. And this is what got NFL lineman Frank Woycheck into trouble.

One of the properties of DMSO is that you can mix other substances, aspirin for example, with it and it will rapidly decrease the amount of time it would normally take to reach the affected area. It is commonly used in the horse racing industry to speed steroids to muscles, thus promoting faster healing and recovery times, which allows the horses to race more often. Frank Woycheck's personal trainer's DMSO source? A trainer at the famous Pimlico Race track in Baltimore. Unfortunately, the trainer was accidentally given a tub of DMSO which contained steroids, Woycheck failed a drug test, and got a 4 game suspension. And while Woycheck's steroid ingestion was purely accidental, such is not always the case. Personal trainers are hired and fired on the basis of their reputation for results. More than one trainer has been known to enhance his reputation by secretly adding illegal substances to DMSO (not only steroids, but amphetamines, etc.). Especially if the guy who is paying you big bucks is less than happy with his progress after an injury. Folks will do a lot of unsavory things to protect their livelihood.

Then there are supplements. A major university in Germany recently did a study of over 600 readily available supplements for the athletic market. The kind of stuff you find at GNC. Over 15% of these products contained steroids or steroid precursors not listed on the label. How can this be? To understand it, you have to take a look at the supplement industry and its clientele.

Athletes, even weekend ones, are always looking for something to give them a competitive edge. Suppose some guy you work out with at the gym reads an article or sees an ad in Men's Health or Muscle and Fitness for some great new supplement. The guy tries it, and in a couple of weeks he is making progress he has never made before. With in a week, everyone in that gym will be using that supplement. Within two weeks, everyone at every gym in the city will be using it. Within two months, it is a national craze.

The mark up on supplements is huge, and a hot selling supplement can net millions in a very short time. So, if you illicitly add steroids to your supplement, by the time someone actually flunks a drug screen, you can be sitting on the beach on some exoctic Pacific resort island, Mai Tai firmly in hand, far from the not so long arm of the law. And if you get lucky, once you build a clientele, you can remove the steroids from you next production batch, and no one will be the wiser. The rewards of loading your supplement with steroids are high, and the risk relatively low. It's a wonder only fifteen percent were found to have steroids.

You would never know it by looking at me now, but fifteen years ago, I was the ultimate gym rat. I was obsessed. 3 to 4 hours daily, 7 days a week. The gym where I worked out, Pro Health, was right across the street from my employer, so I could go before and after work, plus on my 1 1/2 hour lunch break. They used to keep track of the mileage we piled up on the rowing machines, Airdynes and Nordic Tracs on a big map on the wall. In the space of a few months, I had Nordic Tracked across the country and back. I left everyone in the dust. Like I said, I was obsessed.

One of my regular work out partners was a gal who was a serious competitive body builder, competing in the US Naturals competitions. This is the body building federation that doesn't allow steroids, diuretics, amphetamines, or other chemical substances. She was shocked to be banned for two years for failing a drug test. While she can't prove it, the only thing she did differently in the months before her failed test was to switch supplements at the urging of a trainer.

In spite of what you may have heard, the steroid Palmeiro tested positive for, stanozolol
, while normally injected, is also available in ingestible form. And, going back to the DMSO thing, it is commonly used in horse racing.

So, let's step back and see where this all actually goes, rather than just jump on the media driven crucifixion bandwagon. Raffy's been a great, steady player for a very long time. He at least deserves the benefit of a bit of doubt.

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