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Addressing the Real Steroid Hypocrisy: In a Nation of Performance Enhancers, What’s Fair Outside of Professional Sports?

Steroids in professional sports have been in the news more than ever these days – from last week’s announcement that the Baseball Hall of Fame would not be electing anyone this year (presumably due to “steroid fallout”) to tonight’s highly anticipated (and much talked-about) Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong.

Yes, steroid use by professional athletes to gain an advantage over their competitors is unfair – and wrong.  But, in the midst of all of the current (and past) media attention focusing on cheating in sports,  it’s important to differentiate the use of steroids in professional sports from the recreational use of steroids by those turning to steroids to make personal physique (“cosmetic”)  enhancements, rather than competitive performance enhancements.

The truth is, most steroid users are in the gym … and not in the world of professional sports.  However, recreational steroid users face a tremendous double standard when it comes to the  “personal enhancements” that they choose to make.  Unlike women seeking to improve their appearance through a “lifestyle lift” or the college student seeking to enhance academic success through the use of stimulant drugs, the general public views recreational steroid users as “cheaters.”   It’s a double standard, for sure – and one which, as the media hoopla surrounding the Lance Armstrong interview further intensifies, will continue to blur the line between what is fair in the world of professional sports and what is fair for the average guy in the gym choosing to use steroids to enhance his personal appearance.

The hypocrisy surrounding steroid use is something I’ve recently addressed in an article entitled “Cheat This, Not That:  Hypocrisy, Ethics and Performance Enhancement” — co-authored by three other thoughtleaders in this area: Jack Darkes, PhD (University of South Florida, Tampa, FL), Daniel Gwartney, MD (Columbia, MO), and Jason Cohen, PsyD.  To read the full article as it appears in Meso-Rx, click here.

As the world waits to see the fallout from the Oprah interview, it will be interesting to see what happens next —  both for Lance Armstrong and for coverage of steroids in the news.  As discussions about cheating in professional sports continue, though, isn’t it time to differentiate between competitive performance enhancements and personal cosmetic enhancements – and reexamine the double standard and hypocrisy that currently exists when it comes to what people do to feel better about themselves.

For the latest information about steroids and the law, visit www.steroidlaw.com, follow me on Twitter @RickCollinsOnline, or, if you have a legal question, call me at 516-294-0300.


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