Brent Musburger: “Here’s the truth about steroids: They work.”

Jan 6, 2010; Newport Beach, CA, USA; Sports commentator Brent Musburger addresses the media at the Citi BCS Bowl National Championship Press Conference at the Newport Marriott in Newport Beach, CA. Photo via Newscom

ABC and ESPN play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger recently suggested to a group of college journalism students that professional and college athletes could use steroids to improve their athletic performance if done so under a doctor’s supervision.


“Here’s the truth about steroids: They work,” he said in a story reported by The Missoulian.

“I’ve had somebody say that, you know, steroids should be banned because they’re not healthy for you,” he told the students Tuesday. “Let’s go find out. What do the doctors actually think about anabolic steroids and the use by athletes? Don’t have a preconceived notion that this is right or this is wrong.”

Musburger said negative stories about steroids are mainly the fault of “journalism youngsters out there covering sports [who] got too deeply involved in something they didn’t know too much about.”

Asked by The Associated Press to expand on his comments Wednesday, Musburger said through a publicist at ESPN that he stood by the comments he made to the students and that his main point was that “the issue of steroids belongs in the hands of doctors and not in the hands of a journalist.”

Dr. Gary Wadler, who leads the committee that determines the banned-substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency, said he was “kind of surprised Brent would make that statement.”

“He’s categorically wrong, and if he’d like to spend a day in my office, I can show him voluminous literature going back decades about the adverse effects of steroids,” he said. “They have a legitimate role in medicine that’s clearly defined. But if it’s abused, it can have serious consequences.”

Musburger is actually right about one thing: the issue of steroids does belong in the hands of doctors and not journalists. The subject is thrown around with reckless abandon these days and all writers should do more research on the topic before making definitive claims about steroid use. It’s almost cliché these days to throw out a “steroids are bad for the game” piece whenever the topic comes back into light.

That said, I disagree with his view that college and pro athletes should use steroids to improve athletic performance – whether they were being supervised or not. It would be too hard to regulate and what kind of message would we be sending to high school kids? Musburger himself said that steroids don’t belong at the high school level, but how many young players would start taking them in hopes of playing college ball? It’s a slippery slope and one that would certainly lead to disaster.

It would only take one player to abuse PEDs and all of a sudden the NFL would have a league-wide problem on its hands. Even if you gave a teenager a loaded weapon, taught him how to use it and then said, “Only fire this weapon under my supervision,” how long do you think it would take before that teenager snuck the gun out and started using it on his own? We live in an addictive society – there’s no way the NFL or NCAA could regulate when and how players use steroids every single time.

It’s best if this can of worms stays sealed.

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NFL has 14 players suspended to start season, but MLB has steroids!

August 16, 2010: New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes (10) with a smile after missing a catch in the end zone during the NFL preseason game between the New York Giants and the New York Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants beat the Jets, 31-16.

One of the biggest double standards in all of sports is how the NFL gets a free pass when it comes to criticizing players for off-field problems, yet because baseball had the steroid era MLB players might as well be the devil reincarnate.

Fourteen players will start the 2010 NFL season suspended:

Ben Roethlisberger – wasn’t charged, but accused of sexual assault twice in one year

Cary Williams – domestic dispute

Quinn Ojinnaka – arrested and charged with battery, accused of throwing his wife down the stairs of their house and throwing her out

Aqib Talib – punched a cab driver, charged with resisting arrest without violence and simple battery

Jonathan Babineaux – substance abuse

Robert James – PEDs

Santonio Holmes – violated substance abuse policy

Shawn Nelson – failed drug test (supposedly marijuana)

LenDale White – failed drug test (supposedly marijuana)

Vincent Jackson – two DUIs

Leroy Hill – arrested on marijuana-possession charge

Johnny Jolly – felony drug charge

Brian Cushing – PEDs

Gerald McRath – PEDs

Let’s see, we’ve got battery, sexual assault, failed drug tests, PEDs and one punched cab driver. And yet somehow, Pacman Jones’ name didn’t make the list.

When an NFL player is suspended, one of the first things that fans ask is, “How long will he be out for?”

When a MLB player is caught using steroids, it’s: “He disrespected the game! Cut off his f**king hands! Prepare him for sacrifice to the baseball Gods!”

Mark McGwire tried to get a job earlier this year as the Cardinals’ hitting coach and you would have sworn that he set a school on fire that happened to be next to a church, which also burned down. Yet Santonio Holmes is being viewed as the ultimate late round sleeper in fantasy football drafts because he’s going to be out for the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Look, I realize that steroids can have a profound effect on scared records, wins and whether or not players have an unnatural advantage over another player.

But I’m sorry, steroids take a back seat to domestic violence, battery and sexual abuse. Wrong is wrong and cheating the game of baseball is definitely grounds for being scrutinized for the rest of your life but come on – NFL players are breaking the law and it’s not even Page 7B news anymore.

The double standard between how NFL and MLB players are viewed is appalling.

Good to see an owner have a player’s back – McNair goes to bat for Cushing

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 04:  Linebacker Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans delivers a hard hit to tight-end Zach Miller #80 of the Oakland Raiders at Reliant Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

While I think it’s a fruitless endeavor, you have to admire the way Texans’ owner Bob McNair has decided to go to bat for linebacker Brian Cushing.

McNair is lobbying the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell to reduce Cushing’s four-game suspension, which the linebacker received for violating the league’s steroid policy. McNair has said that he will present new evidence to Goodell today that he hopes will prove that Cushing has done nothing wrong.

From USA Today:

“We’re supportive of the league program and we’re not questioning that he did test positive for HCG,” McNair said. “We’re not questioning that at all.

“We’re concerned about the athlete and want to make sure that there’s nothing wrong with him and if this was something that was a natural occurrence, we then want to know about it because it could happen again.”

Now, who knows what McNair’s agenda is. After winning the 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award last season, it’s obvious that Cushing is vital to Houston’s success. Would McNair be going out on a limb for all his players or is he just doing this because Cushing is one of his key defenders?

Only McNair can answer that question, but the fact that he’s sticking his neck out at all deserves some praise. The owners are about to embark on a nasty battle with the player’s union regarding a new CBA deal, yet here’s McNair going to bat for one of his own. It’s admirable, even if Goodell upholds Cushing’s suspension.

Again, I think McNair is going to come up empty and it stands to reason that he’s a little naive too (especially when you consider that Cushing has been linked to steroids since he was in high school). Plus, what the hell is Overtrained Athlete Syndrome (the condition Cushing claims led to the positive drug test).

But what’s the worse that can happen? Goodell doesn’t think the new evidence is worthy enough to reduce Cushing’s suspension? So what – the Texans have already been preparing to be without Cushing for the first four games anyway. It’s not like anything changes if McNair fails.

But if he succeeds, then not only does Cushing get his suspension reduced but maybe the league will look to address holes in its testing program.

The difference between MLB and NFL players when it comes to steroids

When it comes to speaking his mind about the differences between how MLB and NFL players are treated when it comes to steroids, Astros’ first baseman Lance Berkman hits the nail on the head.

From the Houston Chronicle:

“I will say that what will be interesting will be the reaction, because generally when that happens to a football player, it’s kind of ho-hum,” Berkman said. “They’ll write a story and he’ll serve his four games and nobody will ever say anything else about it.

“If that happens to a baseball player, they’d want to strike him from the record book. It’s just a totally, totally different reaction, and I don’t know why that is.”

Here’s my theory: Football is just more popular than baseball is, so people have a tendency to give NFL players more leniency.

Fantasy baseball isn’t as popular as fantasy football and the NFL has a clear advantage over MLB when it comes to gambling.

There are only 16 games in football, so fans live and die on every play. There are 162 games in baseball, so fans could essentially miss an entire week of action and it still might not even matter in the grand scheme of things.

People love football. They crave it. They want to see their favorite players in uniform and if one of them screws up, all they usually care about is how many games he’ll miss before he’s back on the field. When a baseball player screws up, the games he misses won’t necessarily have a barring on how the team does (look at Manny Ramirez’s suspension last year), so fans are more likely to get their moral handbooks out when passing judgment.

It’s not fair, but that’s just the way it is.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Should Cushing be stripped of his ROY award?

Brian Cushing claims that it wasn’t steroids that caused him to fail a positive drug test last September. He’s not saying what it was exactly and unless he confesses, we may never know the real reason why he was suspended for four games next season.

But either way, he did take something and whatever it was, it may cause him to lose his 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award according to AP advisor Dave Goldberg.

Per Goldberg, the AP may hold a re-vote for the award in light of Cushing’s failed drug test. If there is a re-vote and Cushing loses, then Bills’ safety Jarius Byrd would likely be given the trophy seeing as how he finished second in the voting last year.

But would that be fair? What if Cushing accidentally took a supplement that contained something that was banned by the NFL? In other words, what if it wasn’t steroids? Have you ever seen the list of substances that are banned by the league? Players can’t even take cough medicine without having it approved by a team doctor or trainer. So while we can speculate all we want about what Cushing took, there’s a possibility that he will lose his ROY award (not to mention incentives based on rookie-year accomplishments) over something minor.

That said, if he was suspended for steroids, then there’s a strong argument to be made that he should lose the award. After all, if he knew back in September that he had failed the test and played virtually the entire season knowing that he’d eventually be suspended, then maybe he should be stripped of the award. Some fans want all of the records during baseball’s steroid era to be stricken from the books, so why shouldn’t Cushing lose his award too? Cheating is cheating.

Personally, if Cushing was caught using steroids, then Byrd should be the rightful winner of the award in my eyes. But if Cushing used a supplement that could be bought over the counter by any one of us at GNC, then I’m sorry, but I think the award should stay with him. The league is already punishing him with the four-game suspension, so that should be enough if he was simply careless about checking with a team doctor before using a potentially banned substance. Why take his hard-earned award away too?

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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