As a disclaimer, I have received no financial incentives from the Major League Players Association, Lance Armstrong, Big Pharma, the WWE or Muscle Magazine.
The furor over Lance Armstrong’s alleged doping, Roger Clemens’ bloody cotton balls and Barry Bonds’ hat size continues to amaze me. The fact that these athletes may have achieved their incredible physical feats with the aid of “performance enhancing drugs” matters not one whit to me. Don’t we want performances enhanced? Don’t we want the most for our entertainment dollars?
Athletes are entertainers. That’s all they are. We pay them to occupy our attention for a few hours with a game or a race. When the event is over we decide if our money was well spent based on the performance we just saw.
Back when Richard Pryor and Robin Williams were using mounds of cocaine to enhance their performances, no one complained. Drug testers with urine cups didn’t line up outside their dressing rooms saying, “You were just too darned funny tonight, can you just give me a little sample?”
Musicians, artists and writers have famously over-indulged in an apparent effort to give us our money’s worth (or is it to self-medicate against a massive lack of self-worth, I keep forgetting?).
Just imagine the American airwaves without the dulcet tones of James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” because he decided to forego his personal performance enhancer, heroin. Not a soft rock lover? How about R&B or jazz? Ray Charles without “Hit the Road, Jack” or without some of Miles Davis’ and Charlie Parker’s best work is what you get if they lay off the smack.
What if your neurosurgeon decides he will do without his beta-blocker the morning of your craniotomy? Never mind that it controls that slight tremor he has developed after 25 years of surgery. Oops! There goes third grade. It’s a shame his performance wasn’t enhanced.
Other scientists and doctors have dabbled with PEDs and come up with some pretty nifty ideas. Sigmund Freud became the father of psychoanalysis and William Halstead the father of modern American surgery, both while experimenting with cocaine. Personally, I don’t want to miss out on table top fusion just because some brainiac at MIT couldn’t get his Ambien and have those weird dreams.
Folks, longevity medicine is hormone replacement — estrogen, testosterone, human growth hormone and who-knows-what else. As long as athletes, entertainers, thinkers and doers are adult, informed and educated about the risks and insured against those risks (make sure you get that informed consent form signed) — let the testing begin. And watch those records fall. Regular, systematic testing on the fittest humans on earth could yield enough data to keep researchers busy night and day.
Negative test results for PEDs are no longer considered evidence of innocence, so let’s make ’em all positive.
Forrest Gump famously said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” I’ll paraphrase that to “A PED is as a PED does.”
Hugh Hefner called Viagra “the greatest performance enhancing drug of all time.” That’s one guy who knows something about performance. I rest my case.
Oh yeah, leave Lance alone.
Dr. David R. Hardin is an orthopedic surgeon living in Carter County.