Shaun Assael is an award-winning journalist and author. As a senior writer with ESPN: The Magazine, he has covered everything from NASCAR to the NFL, and now works as an investigative reporter. In Steroid Nation: Juiced Home Run Totals, Anti-Aging Miracles, And a Hercules in Every High School - The Secret History of America’s True Drug Addiction, Assael pens the authoritative history of America’s—and perhaps the world’s—most insidious drug addiction. Part detective story, part medical investigation, and part sociological examination, Steroid Nation is a groundbreaking work on the most compelling story in the sports world today.
Question: What innovation is happening in this field?
Shaun Assael: I think that we are coming out the other side of the Estrus era and we have to ask ourselves it is not just growth hormones, it is steroids to and frankly it is the whole medicine test, is there a reason that athletes where using where they using because they wanted to explode records and they where getting greedy or where they using because it is hard to go through, you know 80 games a year and to constantly be on the road and may be in low doses there is a helpful reason and helpful way to use them the problem is transparency if in fact you are allowing your 35-year-old for spacemen to use load doses of testosterone it can’t be kept a secret and so you have to, I have been advocating and this is only half way joking, you know medical player cards, just like statistical player cards in cycling you are seeing the most interesting development what they call biological passports where players biological snap shot is taken at the beginning of the year and if it becomes significantly altered during the course of the year, they are going to have to explain that, that is way to keep cycling clean I just think that if we do feel like we have been to prohibitionist about this, we have been too historical about this, if there is a place for these things in sports it is going to have to go along the transparency and the unions are going to have to understand that and we have not even begun to have that kind of conversation.
Question: What will the next generation of steroids look like?
Shaun Assael: The essential molecule isn’t really been changed since the 30s, all the steroid molecule and the anabolic steroids are oppose to catabolic and anabolic steroid molecule basically has the same triangular markers, I am not a chemist but they all kind of look alike, the very definition of designer is to add a double bond here or something that changes its look to a drug testing machine which is trained to look for the basic molecule garbeching, garbech out [phonetic] the machines only understand what they are trying to look for, so you could alter the molecule with a small little alteration so the test, the machine will catch it, but the basic molecules are same so steroids haven’t changed, what you are going to begin to see now is then this is the frontier people are talking about genetic engineering in which and if you could engineer the body to make more testosterone and if you don’t have to take it exogenously right from the outside, that is when you know you really beat the drug test because how do you tell what is real and what is not, a mid step in that direction with respect to HGH insulin, it is dangerous to take but that we know, We know athletes are taking it because you know the idea, the human growth hormone when it goes in to the liver it transforms into something called IGF1 which is like miracle growth for your body, taking insulin’s are more direct way of creating that, it is also, doesn’t sent of the markers that HGH does which tests can catch, being on that we are getting it some real dangerous stuff too.
Recorded on: March 18, 2008.