As Americans anxiously follow Congress' ongoing efforts to solve what our solons apprarently believe is our leading domestic crisis—steroid use among baseball players—news from science says it's too late.
As the Wall Street Journal reports:
In the study, which was completed in October 2006 by the Department of Integrative Medical Biology at Sweden's Umea University, researchers took muscle biopsies from 26 elite powerlifters who have competed at the sport's highest levels. Ten of the volunteers said they were not steroid users, but the other 16 had either admitted using these drugs in the past or said they were currently using them. Not only is it unusual for scientists to study elite athletes of any kind, it's almost impossible to study top athletes who are using steroids in competition.
When the researchers looked at the subjects' muscles through a microscope, they made a surprising discovery: Rather than returning to their original proportions, the muscles of the steroid users who'd stopped taking the drug looked remarkably similar to those of the subjects who were still using. They also had larger muscle fibers and more growth-inducing "myonuclei" in their muscle cells than the nonsteroid users…
When the career statistics of 52 hitters who were cited in Sen. Mitchell's report (or have been alleged to be steroids users by other sources) are measured against the average career statistics for all hitters, there are some substantial differences. For the alleged steroid users, there was a 5.4% improvement in production from ages 28 to 34 based on OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) while the average for all players between 1921-2004 who played at least 10 seasons in the majors was a 2.6% decline over that period.
So should former users be banned for life from sports? Or maybe we should just relax and change the rules so that everybody can enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.
Whole WSJ article here.