Performance Enhancing Drugs: PEDs, HGH, Steroids.....OH MY!

[caption id="attachment_8492" align="alignright" width="211"]performance enhancing - baseball - triathlon Is He The First To Break Maris' Record Of 62 Home Runs Or Do You Discount It Due To Performance Enhancing Drugs?[/caption] Performance enhancing drugs are all over the news of my favorite sport when I was growing up.  I use the caveat of when I was growing up because I'm not sure that baseball is my favorite sport anymore and part of that is due to the performance enhancing drugs.  A few years ago, after the players strike, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire wowed the world of baseball by hitting balls farther and more often than anybody else in the history of the sport.  I was right there with everybody else being glued to my TV and wondering if either of them would reach the record of Roger Maris' 62 home runs in a season. I will remember the day that Mark McGwire hit the record tying home run.  It was during the broadcast by Fox with Tim McCarver and Joe Buck.  McGwire's home run was a line drive over the left field wall.  He was so excited that he forgot to touch first base.  He ran the bases and his opponent on the day Sammy Sosa gave him a hug and greeted him like a long-lost cousin.  It was all so surreal.  The Maris family was there and McGwire embraced them and the chants were loud.  I remember thinking about who the pitcher was and that I better remember his name because I love baseball trivia and that will be handy one day.  By the way, the pitcher was Steve Trachsel and as life would have it he ended pitching for my favorite team the Mets. I bring this up because during the 2013 Major League Baseball season Chris Davis has hit 32 home runs prior to July 4th.  Only three other people in the history of the game have done this.  This morning on my way to an open water swim I heard an interview with him and he blatantly said that the HR record belonged to Roger Maris and not Sosa, McGwire or Barry Bonds.  These three all hit more than 62 home runs in a season with Bonds hitting 70 but it is widely accepted that they did these things while using performance enhancing drugs. At the same time that Chris Davis is hitting these home runs there is an investigation into players being connected to Biogenesis which claims to have provided performance enhancing drugs to players in today's game including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.  I shouldn't be surprised but I am that this discussion is still taking place.  I guess people will always turn to the path of least resistance when it comes to fame and fortune.  Unfortunately, I don't think that my new favorite sport of triathlon is immune to this epidemic. In this sport we are looking for ways to improve performance at all angles.  We are buying aero helmets and wheels.  The lightest bike and the most aerodynamic water bottle setup.  The easiest shoes to slide on.  Wetsuits that can cost thousands.  Swimskins with carbon material.  Sports drinks and the mixes.  Nitric Oxide, creatine, whey protein and the list can go on and on.  If there is a study that says it improves performance you can be that triathletes will be all over it.  It is like we treat our bodies like science experiments while looking for that 'free' speed. [caption id="attachment_8494" align="alignright" width="276"]performance enhancing - baseball - triathlon - lance armstrong - oprah winfrey Lance Armstrong Didn't Use Performance Enhancing Drugs Until He Did.[/caption] I would love to bury my head in the sand and say it doesn't exist but I am cynical these days thanks to stories about age groupers taking medication for low testosterone even though they do not suffer from this.  I hear about these weekend warrior going from 12 hour Ironman finishing times to qualifying for Kona in a year.  Can that be done?  Probably, but I would also think that performance enhancing drugs are involved.  I am skeptical that such a big leap is possible and that leads me to the pros. In baseball it is nearly impossible to make the majors even if you are taking performance enhancing drugs.  There just aren't enough roster spots compared to the number of people who play baseball.  Triathlon is a different story.  This sport brings the pros and the amateurs and puts them on the same playing field and says go to work.  Today's elite age grouper can be tomorrow's pro.  When they hit that pro field is when they decide they are good enough to compete and qualify for their card.  This isn't baseball or football where there are only so many roster spots available so the opportunity to cheat by taking performance enhancing drugs exists and this possibility can be real for more athletes in this sport. Do I believe that today's pros are taking PEDs, HGH or anything else?  I have no idea.  Yes there is a testing protocol but how tough is the test?  How hard would it be to circumvent the process?  We are seeing times drop quite dramatically and unfortunately I question how these things are happening but I do err on the side of natural ability and hard work.  Maybe I'm naive or I just want to pretend like it doesn't exist at the pro level of triathlon but I also would not be surprised if an elite pro was found guilty of taking any of these performance enhancing drugs. This is the world in which we live and I hope that whatever tests are being administered today are the toughest they can be and if not that the organizations running the sport of triathlon are putting testing in place to combat any cheating that may or may not be taking place.  Cheating in any form, including drafting on the bike is not acceptable and should be stopped as quickly as it can be.  

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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