Athletes may take simulants, narcotic analgesics, anabolic steroids, beta blockers, diuretics, peptide hormones, or engage in blood doping, a technique to increase packed cell volume by re-infusing previously drawn blood. Drug testing is not standardized enough and is too widespread to identify drugs reliably, therefore failing to serve as a valid deterrent. (Doping in sports, p. 211).
But Canseco also may not be the best of messenger-ex-athletic stars, since he remains, going on three years after Juiced was first published, a pariah among current players, and, therefore, (however unfairly) a less-than-ideal proponent of good clean (without help from steroids, that is) athletic competition, in baseball and (therefore) generally. To be fair, also, despite Canseco's sworn Congressional testimony (and published testimonials) to the contrary, baseball greats like McGwire, Sosa, and others obviously spend countless hours, year-round, keeping fit, strong, and ready to play their very best.
Perhaps, then, with help from today's supplements, e.g., Creatine; protein shakes, etc.; combined with proper nutrition and exercise, it is entirely possible for today's athletes to stay in top shape without ever using steroids. This latter possibility, then, however remote it may actually seem, to some (and perhaps even many these days) still needs to be seriously considered, in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary.
And major league baseball players must also compete every year for their jobs; therefore, just because someone is getting more muscular, hitting better and running faster does not mean that this person uses steroids. It could simply mean that the player is working out a lot, eating right, and training hard. Yes, steroid use is a possibility in such a case, but only that.
Conceivably then, Jose Canseco could just have embarrassed (for whatever reason(s) other professional baseball players before America and the world: first within Juiced (2005; 2006); then by perhaps seeking to make examples of them before Congress instead of (as many argued then and would still argue) having the steroid issue stay where it belongs: within the MLB Committee. Moreover, one need only recall America's (and the world's, for that matter various long-lost "wars on drugs" (and various otherwise-named, similar endeavors) in order to recall, too, that national governments everywhere have dismal records of resolving (or even substantively improving long-term, for that matter) substance abuse problems of any kind.
One worthwhile issue that did perhaps emerge from the Canseco-inspired Congressional hearings on steroid abuse that took place in America in 2005, though, was that today's athletes had it strongly and publicly pointed out to them, even if they were only watching the hearings on TV and not at all involved with them, that they need to realize, accept, and take seriously their status as heroes and role models for numerous children, adolescents, and adults everywhere. If young people watching competitive professional or amateur sports know their heroes take steroids, they may well, unfortunately, decide to do the same, especially if they are already, or aspire to be in the future, athletes themselves.
Professional athletes are, of course autonomous individuals who can and should make their own decisions in life and feel free, like any of us, to be completely authentic. Still, their status as public role models is (for better or worse) real, even if they did not seek such a status. While athletes, especially the stars among them, as in any other high-paying public profession, will very likely always have doctors to prescribe for them; money to pay for steroids if they still choose to use them, and the ability to pay people off, they may now also perhaps be thinking more about how impressionable kids in particular are still watching, and therefore, that they need now to begin making more responsible decisions about steroid use, and for more than just their own or their team's long-term health and overall benefit.
Steroid use is fueled by competition, the one aspect of professional sports that will never end. Money drives sports. Money also drives athletes to do what it takes to become better than the next person. Still, the MLB Committee should be the entity to crack down on steroid abuse, not Congress. Just as some people find ways to sneak drugs across international borders, athletes will always find ways to beat the system and continue taking performance-enhancing drugs if they wish. No matter how strict Congress, the MLB, the NFL, the Olympic Committee, or the NCAA becomes, athletes will find ways to obtain, and to use steroids if they so desire.
On a similar note, high school athletes and other young adults need to be more aware, on their own, of the potential physical long-term harmful consequences of steroid use, and to take responsibility for their own health and welfare, even if their athletic heroes should still continue to use steroids themselves. Athletes could and should at least send the message, whatever they might or might not be doing personally, that steroids can be fatal when abused, for anyone. Perhaps professional athletes and the general public alike, including young fans who worship potentially steroid-taking athletes, need to start by taking more responsibility. The problem of widespread steroid abuse in sports is most likely, to be solved, if ever or at all, by one responsible person at a time deciding to make the best, most responsible lifestyle choices for the best and most responsible reasons.
Barnard, M. (Sept 25, 1998). Drugs and Darwin fuel athletes. New Statesman, 24 (127) [HIDDEN] Retrieved March 03, 2007, at http://find.galegroup.com/ips / infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-