Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas


So, did you read that Sports Illustrated article that starts with “The pill, capsule, vial and needle have become fixtures of the locker room”?  It’s a very long article that discusses dozens of examples of athletic drug use to improve performance.


There are the Olympians who used anabolic steroids to get bigger and stronger.  One Olympian, in response to the question (did Olympians use anabolic steroids) said: “Let me put it this way.  If they had come into the [Olympic] village the day before competition and said we have just found a new test that will catch anyone who has used steroids, you would have had an awful lot of people dropping out because of instant muscle pulls.”


Did you hear about the California doctor who openly endorsed the use of anabolic steroids?  He was quoted as saying, “I don’t think it is possible for a weight man to compete internationally without using anabolic steroids.”  He then adopted a don’t ask, don’t tell policy – he didn’t ask them what they were taking and they didn’t tell him.  Seriously, it’s all right there in Sports Illustrated.


In the article, a U.S. Olympian said, “It is not unusual for an athlete to carry his own hypodermic syringes.  Athletes have learned to inject themselves.”


Who knew?




The article raises the following interesting question:  “Is athletic integrity (and, conversely, corruption) a matter of public interest?”  Also, “[d]rug usage , even more than speculation about bribery, college recruiting, spit-balls or TV commercials, raises such sticky questions about the fundamentals of sport that one can understand the instinctive reaction of the athletic Establishments: when it comes to drugs, they ignore, dismiss, deny.


I don’t think they were talking about Bud Selig.


Then there is this from a former Los Angeles Dodgers’ physician: “The excessive and secretive use of drugs is likely to become a major athletic scandal, one that will shake public confidence in many sports …  .  The essence of sports is matching the natural ability of men [and women].  When you start using drugs, money or anything else surreptitiously to gain an unnatural advantage, you have corrupted the purpose of sports as well as the individuals involved in the practice.”


Does this raise any questions:  “Most drugs – good and bad, safe and risky, effective and ineffective, legal and illegal – used by athletes are supplied directly by physicians or indirectly by physicians through trainers.”


Then there’s this from a New York physician who didn’t want to be identified: “{T]eam physicians tend to be men of action, not scholarly, speculative types.  They are interested in immediate problems: making somebody strong, relaxed, mean or quick and in getting a player back in the game as soon as possible.  If somebody tells them that there is a drug that might do the trick, they are apt to try it.  They are not likely to wait around for a double-blind control study to find out if the drug is effective or what it will do to the liver three years later.  They are interested in today.”






Maybe you saw that recent ESPN piece about the San Diego Chargers eating Dianabol, an anabolic steroid, like they were candy.  Did it help them win a championship in the early 1960s?  Probably.


But did you hear about the four-time U.S. Olympian who simply said that

“my experience tells me that an athlete will use any aid to improve his performance short of killing himself.”


How about the Maryland doctor who gave anabolic steroids to weightlifters in Pennsylvania?  The doctor said, “They figured if one pill was good, three or four would be better, and they were eating them like candy.  I began seeing prostate trouble, and a couple of cases of atrophied testes.”




It wasn’t just the Chargers, according to SI.  They had unverified reports that almost every professional football team had players taking anabolic steroids and confirmed that players on the Chiefs, the Browns and the Falcons were taking anabolic steroids.  There was a college player from Utah State who played professionally in Canada and said that 90% of college linemen have used steroids.  SI continues, “So widespread is the faith in hormones that there are verified incidents of where pro scouts have supplied the drug to college draftees and college recruiters have given it to high school players.”




The article concludes: “Finally, the belief in the existence of the ultimate pill, and the unrelenting search for it, is why many doctors fear that athletic drug practices are leading to a sports scandal of major proportions.”




The catch is that this was the cover story of Sports Illustrated ON JUNE 23, 1969.  That’s not a misprint:  1969.       


Give that a little thought. (It’s available at – SI Vault.  And thanks to reader Bob Boni for pointing it out).


© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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