Do we put too much pressure on athletes?
Gary I. Wadler, M.D., FACP, FACSM, FACPM, FCP, is an internist with special expertise in the field of drug use in sports. He is the lead author of the internationally acclaimed textbook, Drugs and the Athlete. Dr. Wadler currently serves as the Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Prohibited List and Methods Sub-Committee and serves as an ex-officio member of WADA’s Health, Medicine, and Research Committee. Additionally, he has served as a Medical Advisor to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, a Trustee of the Board of the American College of Sports Medicine and of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Among his other sports medicine activities, he has served as Tournament Physician of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
For his groundbreaking work in the field of drug abuse in sports, Dr Wadler received the International Olympic Committee's President's Prize in 1993. He is a frequent lecturer on the subject and his opinions are widely sought by the print and electronic media nationally and internationally. In 2007, he was selected by the Institute for International Sport as “One of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” and serves Chairman of the Communications and Information Committee of the American College of Sports Medicine. In addition, he is Chairman of the American Ballet Theatre's Medical Advisory Board where he oversees the development of medical guidelines for the healthy and sound training of dancers in the United States. Dr. Wadler is the Chairman of the College Council of the State University of New York at Old Westbury. Dr. Wadler maintains a private practice in Internal Medicine and Sports Medicine in Manhasset, New York and is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
Question: Do we put too much pressure on athletes?
Gary Wadler: Well, you know, yeah. And there’s no question it’s another form of drug abuse. And what drives the drug trade is money. Now, what’s unique about this form of drug abuse is a form of other drug abuse. In the other form of drug abuse, tremendous amount of money, people grow crop, market it, sell it, whatever. But the end user you can find nonfunctional,without a job, disheveled, whatever it might be. In the sports aspect of drug abuse, we still have the guy making money, importing it, developing it, packaging it and all that stuff, but the user not only is not not functional, he’s making more money than ever before. He has now become a national hero. So it’s an interesting dynamic. So you really have in the doping end that people who are providing the product are making money and the people who are using the product are making money. That’s a very hard act to break up.
Question: Do you still watch baseball?
Gary Wadler: Ask my wife. I go home. If I had a rough day, I put on the baseball game. I love to watch the game of baseball. I love it. I grew up in Brooklyn. I grew up with the Brooklyn Dodgers. I met Jackie Robinson twice. And people have used that argument, you know? Free will. Let them do what they want to do. You have to recognize, and although it’s a lot better now than it was four or five years ago, we have had as many as four percent of high school seniors have used anabolic steroids. We had as many as two and a half percent of eighth graders have used anabolic steroids at least once. Those are staggering figures. And so ultimately, we got to look at the implications for our society. Are we condoning the abuse of dangerous drugs to achieve some goal? Is that an acceptable form of behavior in our society? I submit most people would say no, it’s unacceptable, but they still like to watch their professional sports.
Recorded on: 04/25/2008
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