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.
Shaun Assael: I mean I think steroids are in every sport, even if you look at cycling which you would not associate with strength or muscularity, in fact these guys have the lightest professional athletes, you will find before the Atlantis case there was an allegation that he spiked the test for testosterone, one allegation is that you want to recover quickly that helps you recovery and from day to day and this is true that thing about steroids is not that they instantly put on muscle, now they don’t instantly give you cartoon muscles although they do build lean body mess, they allow you to get to back to the gym more quickly so the apology for the, the steroid apologist who often say look I work harder than any body else and it is true that cheating is that the drugs allow you to work harder than the next, may want to work as hard as you are working but cant because his body gives out or 45 I know exactly what I can lift in a gym, if the guy next to me is using, he will be able to work harder so that is the cheating.
Question: Are steroids an obsession or an addiction?
Shaun Assael: I think the fear that I don’t do it and the next person will, I lose my job is a manifest fear something that I think is the reason why drug testing is so useful because if the guy down the bench feels that he has to use because you are using, whether it is in the pro leagues or I think quite legitimately scarily in high schools, they will use, and that is were it becomes the addiction, the reason to split on whether steroids are actually physiologically addictive, based on what I have read, it doesn’t appear that they are physiologically addictive, it appears that they are psychological addicted in that when you go off it you suddenly you are looking yourself married don’t see your self the same way you go through mood swings, so in that respective they are addicted, but you know they are I think in sports now I do think that in high school football, all the way up to college football every level, once you are on and you kind of it is harder to get of with them.
Question: Are steroids in high school?
Shaun Assael: Yes, I have a fourteen year old for some reason I mean look at me, his coach put him on the center run this team and do I worry when kids are supposed to be fourteen and you know look like barns are coming at him, yeah it only gets worse as you get up, do I think up in the ranks, do I think that there was pervasive as some of the articles in the media suggest not, I actually don’t, I think that they are in schools . The research I have seen suggests that kids experiment with them in non sports capacities and until a good to be the man in their high school as one, as one kid I spoke to said on TV so that outside of the high school sports, they are like any other recreational Drug that kids experiment with, inside sports, I think that the once who use have a real monetary incentive, they see that, that could be the difference between them in the scholarship, I think the ones who are in the sport just to play who don’t have scholarship aspirations don’t take it that seriously.
I think a lot of media characterizations are also convincing kids look steroids are bad, so is it wide spread, no as a , but it is there yes, as a result we are having this debate as to how much we want to do high school steroid testing, New Jersey has a program, sort as Florida, but Texas has dwarfed both of them, with the program starting this spring, that crossed 6 million dollars over two years, all 760,000 high school athletes eligible for testing 26,000 kids were actually be tested, now that is a real commitment to biologically monitor our kids. Texas is the home of Friday night lights and lot of other states Illinois, New York are having fierce debates and deciding not to do it because how do you justify the 180 dollars steroids test on a kid, when that could be spent on a text book that entire chemistry class can use, so it is difficult debate, do I think that going getting into a biological war with the students is the way to go, no but I do believe in some form of testing.
Recorded on: March 18, 2008.