A New Stance on Steroids

Was it really only yesterday that I boldly trotted out my theory that NBA players probably didn't use steroids at the rate of other athletes, based on the evidence that "NBA players are not nearly as bulky as their football and baseball brethren?"

The New York Times goes out of its way to make that theory look foolish on today's cover. In a story about baseball pitchers using steriods, Jere Longman writes:

Although the public may equate steroid use with muscle-bound athletes, that notion has long been dispelled outside baseball. Steroids have appeared in numerous sports in which flexibility and lean muscle mass are at a premium, from swimming to cycling to gymnastics to distance running.

Hmm, that'll get you thinking. If performance enhancing drugs help everyone from NFL and MLB players to those skinny little gymnasts and distance runners, how could they not give basketball players an edge? Especially when you consider this quote from Red Sox relief pitcher Mike Timlin:

"Hitters are not looking for all-out strength or size. What they're looking for is to have a regular amount of strength day in and day out. That's why they take it. That's why pitchers take it."

Everyone says drugs can do amazing things to help with recovery. With four games in five nights not all that uncommon, recovery is the issue in the NBA.

On a related note: yesterday we heard five NBA players had been asked to testify before a congressional panel. One has been named and is scheduled to testify tomorrow. It's the Wizards' Juan Dixon. In NBA circles Juan is seen as a good guy: he persevered through a tough childhood, went to four years of college, and made his hometown team in D.C. He would be lousy choice as someone to out as a user in order to win public support for a political crusade against steroids. (Here I go with more bold proclamations...) I bet they invited him as a sympathetic figure to testify on trends in the sport, not as exhibit A.