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Playing With Steroids
A Chat with Dr. Charles Yesalis

Charles Yesalis knows all there is to know about the steroid game.

One of the world's leading experts on the use and abuse of performance-enhancing substances in professional and amateur athletics, Dr. Yesalis has testified before Congress on legislation dealing with the control of anabolic steroids and growth hormone abuse, and has been a key consultant for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Drug Enforcement Administration, NFL Players Association, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Olympic Committee, National College Athletic Association, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, to name only a few.

He's the author or co-author of several authoritative books on steroids, including The Steroids Game, which focuses on education, prevention, and intervention of anabolic steroid use in athletics.

He's also the editor or co-editor of two comprehensive medical references, Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise and Performance Enhancing Substances in Sport and Exercise, and has published over sixty scholarly journal articles on the subject.

Depending on which side of the contentious issue of performance-enhancing substances you happen to be on, you might think this man is either your most stalwart ally, or your deadliest foe.

You'd probably be right either way. Like most contentious issues, the anabolic steroid game has more than just two sides. Neither an advocate nor an ardent abolitionist, Charles Yesalis is uniquely qualified to view the game from all sides.

Currently a professor of health policy and administration of exercise and sport science at Penn State, Dr. Yesalis was kind enough to share his opinions on the matter with Testosterone member Chris DiEugenio. Here's how it went down.

How did you first become involved with the study of steroids in sports?

Testosterone: You've been one of the leading voices in the crusade against anabolic steroids and other drugs in athletics. Can you explain your major objection to them?

Dr. Yesalis:

Choose your weapon.

Testosterone: So steroids pose less of a health risk than most people believe?

Dr. Yesalis:

Testosterone: And what about reports of so-called steroid rage?

Roid rage: legitimate phenomenon, or media fakery?

Penn State football games are a common venue for "booze rage."

Testosterone: Judging from the organizations you're affiliated with, and also from reading past interviews you've given, it seems that your primary goal is keeping these drugs out of the hands of young people. What can parents do to keep their kids off the juice?

Dr. Yesalis:

Fanatical Sports Dad: unintentional steroid pusher?

Testosterone: In response to a study published in 2000, stating that usage of steroids among 8th graders had become as prevalent as it was among high school seniors, you were quoted as saying, "It's scary for anybody to use these drugs, but in particular women and children." Just to clarify, though, you do believe that a healthy male adult can potentially use anabolic steroids safely?

Testosterone: Okay, the next one's a bit of a touchy subject, for obvious reasons. You've stated "I have never met a steroid user who didn't use supplements first." Does this imply that you're anti-supplements?

Dr. Yesalis:

They provide performance and health benefits; just don't use them as a crutch, kids.

Testosterone: Now let's move to the opposite end of the age spectrum, and talk about hormone replacement treatment. In his book, Dr. E. Barry Gordon has linked free testosterone deficiency to a whole range of diseases. What's your view on this?

A serious look at a serious problem.

Dr. Yesalis:

Testosterone: Okay, last question: do you see a real solution to the drug problem in sports today?

Dr. Yesalis:

"These aren't the drugs you're looking for."

Faculty members one hour before submitting their grant applications.

Testosterone: And with that happy mental image, I think we'll wrap it up. Thank you very much, Dr. Yesalis.

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