October 27, 2003

Writing for Outside magazine, Stuart Stevens took human growth hormone, steroids, and other performance-enhancing drugs for half a year to see what they accomplish for athletes. "I had a life once, and now I'm standing in the Easton WaWa in the middle of the night, looking like a cyborg," he wrote during an endurance bicycling event, "with thousands of dollars of drugs coursing through my veins." (Via RC3)

posted by rcade to extreme at 03:54 PM - 34 comments

That's a really, really great link, rcade. Thanks!

posted by tieguy at 05:25 PM on October 27

That article left me with a "creepy feeling". Nice link.

posted by lilnemo at 05:53 PM on October 27

Given the description he's providing, I can see why people get hooked on the stuff; with the right cocktail he's basically got a magic wand that makes him better. If your sport is your life, that's a hell of a compelling. Hell, some of it even sounded seductive to me. But the whole "shrinking genitals, crashing libido" doesn't really seem like adequate compensation for boosting my bicep curl.

posted by rodgerd at 06:17 PM on October 27

shrinking genitals This white boy has enough challenge in that department already.

posted by billsaysthis at 06:47 PM on October 27

"Ladies and gentleman, that was billsaysthis, here at SpoFi to promote his new book, 'How to avoid getting dates on the Internet'"

posted by rodgerd at 06:56 PM on October 27

I can see the attraction. The ability to crush your best friends in any and all athletic endeavors, especially if they are 10 yrs. younger than you, is a powerful incentive indeed.

posted by vito90 at 08:38 PM on October 27

Great article rcade ... you've got my vote for MVP of alt articles...

posted by smithers at 09:07 PM on October 27

Vito, you lift frequently, right? How widespread is this? I've been carb-loading with beer for years now, and I'm still 138 lbs.

posted by Samsonov14 at 09:21 PM on October 27

rogerd, my wife says those days are over and I'm content to go with her decision. Sammy, I have some nice lower torso fat I don't really need any more and would be glad to send it north to you for the cost of shipping.

posted by billsaysthis at 09:35 PM on October 27

Forget billy, Samsonov, you can have mine (quite a bit of it too) AND I'll pay shipping.

posted by pivo at 09:39 PM on October 27

To be honest, I don't believe it's prevalent at all up here in Seattle. I suspect the majority of the people who do it are expecting to reap some sort of financial reward from it. Lots of models and pro athletes and bodybulders. California is where it's at. If supplements catch on among kayakers then it will make the leap north. I've been lifting weights for 15 years or so, mostly at franchise gyms (Gold's, currently 24 hr. fitness) and a couple University gyms as well for brief stints. And I just don't see people grow that fast. Over the course of two or three years you will notice big improvements around you, but usually it's kids who are just coming into their athleticism. The older folks just make incremental improvements. These observations are anecdotal and so lacking in scientific analysis that they should carry zero credibility as evidence one way or another. Over the last 15 years I've tried plenty of supplements. Creatine, amino acids, yohimbe, ephedra, caffeine, aspirin, protein shakes (BEEFCAKE!), and stupid shit like shark cartilage and some god-awful stuff you put in droplets under your tongue. Sounds like sarsparilla or salmonella or somesuch. The furthest I ever pushed it was a Ripped Fuel cocktail (ephedra) of about 6 tablets in a 24 hr period, and experienced chest pains and palpitations and sweating and dizziness for about an hour. A very, very frightening hour. My immediate thought the next day (because the stuff worked...) was okay, I'll back it off a dose... I never, ever would inject anything into myself. The very idea of a needle poking me causes the same reaction as the ephedra did.

posted by vito90 at 09:53 PM on October 27

Thanks, Vito. For the record, what I do isn't really carb-loading so much as binge-drinking. But you have to stick to your regimen.

posted by Samsonov14 at 10:08 PM on October 27

"shrinking genitals, crashing libido" Didn't that win an Oscar a couple years back?

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:14 PM on October 27

Wow, what a story, though ... and I thought the days of experienced-based journalism were over. Thanks for the great link, rcade.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:28 PM on October 27

6 Ripped Fuels in 24 hours. Glad you're still here. rcade, the Academy has nominated the people's choice...great link. Though I pose one question, why is Dr. Jones' face in a photo?

posted by garfield at 11:11 PM on October 27

G, I was going to ask the very same question and forgot. I would think "Dr. Jones" would not appreciate that very much.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:19 PM on October 27

That was a good article. From the last page though, Great Moments (in Cheater History)...1904 Trainers give exhausted American runner Thomas Hicks a mixture of brandy and strychnine to keep him going during the 24-mile Olympic road race. He wins, but subsequently collapses just past the finish line. Brandy and strychnine? Holy cow.

posted by Ufez Jones at 09:45 AM on October 28

Frazer, I just figured that pic blew apart the whole alias mechanism. I'm puzzled as to how poisons can help one's performance.

posted by garfield at 10:10 AM on October 28

Wow - fascinating stuff Rcade. I'm been wieght training about 3-4 times a week for a year now and have gone from a height of 235 in 2001 to 170 now. Never taken a pill, shot or drink to enhance - but I'm starting to take protein supplements this week (I'm too skinny at 6'1"). I have often thought about what I would take to make my results faster and better, especially when the gym can be a frustrating place (can't get my bench press any higher in the last 3 months, WTF?) - but that just sounds frightening. Since I'm supposedly doing it to be healthier I would just avoid steriods, but the truth seems to be that one cannot get to the level of others without them. A great read.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:14 AM on October 28

you shrunk?

posted by garfield at 10:15 AM on October 28

how tall were you before?

posted by garfield at 10:16 AM on October 28

6'1" - 6'8" with the afro.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:51 AM on October 28

That was a GREAT article. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks rcade. I can see how people would start doing it. It must be so frustrating to train and train cleanly and have these other people beating you who are "cheating." The temptation to join the club (thinking...if I train on top of the cheating, imagine what I could do!) would be really really huge. Weedy, try stopping smoking the green. It works wonders on the body. ;)

posted by aacheson at 01:56 PM on October 28

but at what cost to the mind???

posted by smithers at 03:45 PM on October 28

start brewing tea! a ex's dad always used to tell me that.

posted by garfield at 03:56 PM on October 28

Great link. I used to go to work out fairly seriously at the gym. Can't say I was tempted to go along the route of synthetic aids to improve my physique/performance, though I did have to drink high-calorie shakes to keep my weight up. Could never inject myself with anything and even if I could, believe me it wouldn't be performance-enhancing drugs. ;-)

posted by squealy at 06:37 PM on October 28

The furthest I went was creatine and ephedrine while lifting weights for ball, and I can say I noticed a slight difference, similar to what the author described in terms of the ability to have a little extra energy for that last set of weights as well as recuperating faster....nothing as dramatic as what he described, and I can honestly say I have never felt even the slightest urge to try anything more serious.

posted by smithers at 07:30 PM on October 28

Wow - what a difference a day makes! I started my Andro cycle with a side order of Stanozol and some HGH yesterday and bench pressed 420 pounds before my mightyness ripped right through my clothes. Then I beat up my brother and had my testicles fall off in the shower - but hey, no pain, no gain.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:17 AM on October 29

420 pounds! Are you trying to send a subliminal mesage there WEEDy? I have been known to go to the gym baked off my gourd. It doesn't do much for the lifting itself, but it does make the stretching divine.

posted by vito90 at 11:42 AM on October 29

I can run like the wind when I'm high. Sounds counterintuitive, but it works for some reason.

posted by Samsonov14 at 11:58 AM on October 29

Actually - it's not that strange - THC is a bronchial exciter - meaning that it makes all your little alveoli (sp?) open right up and take in mad oxygen. So some can feel energized after smoking up. However, the effect is apparently so minor that you might as well be high to think you're faster or stronger while high.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:43 PM on October 29

Alveoli, isn't that made by (cue best faux-french accent)
Chef Boiy Ar-Dee?

posted by lilnemo at 03:49 PM on October 29

I've come across my share of gearheads in gyms here and in california. but I also tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, because I've seen huge mass gains in short times without steroids. I was tested at 921ng/dL a month ago, which is the same level as his on the deca. Surely not the same as someone at monster doses, but still far above the high end of normal. So, as you can guess, when I eat right and lift with discipline, I can shoot right up. My mother and doctor have both accused me of steroid use before. So it can happen without it. If I load up on calories and protein and eat clean, I can gain 10lbs in a month. (my results may be skewed by muscle memory though, since I always end up lifting in spurts. Right now, for instance, I've had a month off and have lost over 10lbs, but once I move and get settled and have a gym membership again I am sure I'll add those 10lbs back almost immediately. but I'm sure the next 10 lbs up to 205 will take much longer.) But I can only imagine the kind of advantage it does give, especially to full time athletes. Stuff like this makes me really pissed that I am not lifting right now. My whole bulk till new years then cut for march thing is totally shot now.

posted by Bernreuther at 04:32 PM on October 29

Bernreuther - take heart. I'm having surgery on a herniated disc next Thursday. The doctor says it could be 3 months before I lift again. But that's OK, I haven't been able to lift well for three months because of 24-7 pain in my leg. But I know from experience that when I get back in there it will come right back and I will feel good and be one with my body again. Sometimes it bums me out when I think of how I look after 15 years of disciplined weightlifting. I should look so much better, be so much stronger, be so much fitter than I am! But I can always be grateful for the discipline I've learned...the knowledge that if circumstances dictate me taking months off I will return to it. As for the drugs...well you still got to do the work. I'd almost advocate allowing guys like in the article to do it. It's his body, he competes in individual sports, and he competes where there is no testing and therefore likely to be other dopers. It's a problem in sports like baseball and professional cycling...because those who do not dope should not be discriminated against or measured against those of a doping-era. But in the real world of us amateurs we don't get tested for weed, caffeine, any kind of supplements in the sports we wish to play. That's a benefit of not being a celebrity. We allow botox injections and pectoralis implants and collagen filled lips. I would rather see people do this under a doctor's care than stumble across it in the locker room of my gym.

posted by vito90 at 10:18 PM on October 29

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