Androstenodione This past year a lot of things have happened in the world. President Clinton could possibly be impeached. Our government tried to once again take over Sadaam Hussein. And Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs to break Roger Maris record of 61. During this extraordinary event in the baseball world, one item of skepticism clouded the entire accomplishment.
During an interview that he was giving next to his locker, a reporter noticed a bottle on the top shelf. This bottle was filled with a nutritional pill titled androstenedione, a legal dietary supplement that is a testosterone-producing drug that helps the body repair itself after workouts. This repairment, in turn, helps the person taking it build muscle faster. Some sports fans, and some who are not, say that McGwires record should be discounted due to the use of this pill. I am not one of those people.
What he did this year was a personal accomplishment and while the “andro” may have helped a little, Mark did this through years of hard work in the batting cages. As a skinny rookie in 1987, McGwire managed to knock 49 baseballs out of the park. I think that 11 more years experience in the league could provide a player with the experience to chalk up another 21 dingers. Now granted, I can see some skeptics points. Androstenedione is a supplement that has been banned by a number of sports organizations worlwide: the NFL, NCAA, and the International Olympic Committee for example.
But Major League Baseball is not one of these organizations. So why then should his record be nixed for breaking a rule that does not even apply in his sport? The answer is he shouldnt. Mark McGwire is a superb athlete who bettered his game by following the rules. He did absolutely nothing wrong in obtaining this once thought of unobtainable record. Another aspect to look at is that Sammy Sosa also had a tremendous year.
This Chicago Cub hit 66 home runs this year and he has never touched androstenedione. How hard is it for a fellow slugger to hit 4 more? Not that difficult if you are as high a caliber player as McGwire. Muscle building supplements have been used for years in pro and college athletic programs. Creatine, probably the most popular, is used by virtually every major college in the country. Even your average weight lifter uses it. Androstenedione is just one step higher on the dietary scale, and only by a fraction. A statement was issued by the Cardinals medical staff concerning androstenedione when the supposed “scandal” surfaced. Now, there is a possibility that it may be a tad biased but keep in mind that the ladies and gentlemen that issued this statement are still doctors.
“Androstenedione is a natural substance, which is a natural precursor product of testosterone. It has no proven anabolic steroid effect nor significant side effects. It stimulates slight increase levels for a short period of time (1 hour). Taken approximately one hour before workouts, it may make ones workout more efficient. “Due to current research that locks documentary evidence of any adverse side effects, the Cardinals medical staff cannot object to Marks choice to use this legal and over-the-counter supplement.” If doctor after doctor repeatedly defends androstenedione as harmless and the FDA approves its use, why all the controversy? Creatine is basically the same thing and is used on a much more widespread basis, yet no one questions its use.
Why? I think that partly the reason may be because Mark McGwire is so good and so powerful. Roger Maris record was never even threatened up until this year. Living in the type of country we do, people needed to find a bad side to everything that is pure. Even if no rule was broken, the public accuses anyway. If legal muscle enhancing products were outlawed and everyone who used them had their records revoked, the standard by which we measure athletic greatness would be considerably lower.
Regardless of whether or not Mr. McGwire used a muscle enhancing product or not, he accomplished a spectacular feat. Something legal that he did should not question the validity of that event. It is a sad fact that a sports hero can break a once thought untouchable record and now his name will forever be flawed for no reason at all.