With the news today of the six NYPD officers under scrutiny for steroid abuse after a raid on Lowen`s Pharmacy yielded their names among the thousands of customers for America`s most popular non-euphoric drug (see NY Times 10/17), it appears as though the time is right for chatter and speculation. To me it comes as no surprise that this appearance altering substance (dispersed as supplements and drugs various legalities across the popular consciousness) has been enthusiastically embraced by another subset of America`s heroes. There seems to be a semirational affinity for tight bloat, large head and windedness amongst the country`s most symbolic males. This affinity extends beyond the realms of the obvious. Steroid use is rampant. The image of a buff man, it is safe to assume, is the image of a wrought brow and a clenched jaw as the syringe of d-bol (or its analogous counterparts) piercing the tricep and flushing the tissue. This is not hyperbole. Brief perusal of Bodybuilding.com, for example, yields many articles on how to stack, cycle and pyramid different steroid cocktails to yield maximum growth over time, with no hint of the shame that mention of the actual word “steroid” (there are many synonyms) would presume. It is the concept of “Natural Bodybuilding” itself which seems to be more controversial; the image of organic toning is that of the flexed weakling, and its embrace seems to implicitly regarded a fetish.
It can no longer more than dullest naivete to look at the engorged tissue of a professional wrestler, bodybuilder or pro football player and see something other than encroaching death, the sputtering of the heart, the weezing of the liver. The ethical debate regarding steroid use becomes dumbshit when the drug is tested for so randomly, if at all, by the agencies which simultaneously promote and condemn its use. The sluggishness of MLB, for instance, in responding to the controversy (not to mention the reactionary and reductive nature of the discussion itself) reflects nothing other than the dim awareness of individuals to the processes by which capitalism shapes and forms their understanding. In every instance, steroid use is proportional to the relative size of investment in a particular sport. As attention (I shouldn`t have to add the qualifier “financial”, since internet entrepeneurship takes “looking” as the primary action of the consumer in the marketplace; the idea of “hits” has forever negated the potential of disinterestedly browsing) to the masculine image grows, so do the sizes of the bulges in that image, until the deep gulfs between the apparent (historicized with a thin narratives of exercise routines, rationalized by misdirected fretting over issues of legality and legitimized by capital gains) and the experienced (puny will, disparity between effort and outcome, the abundance of chemicals) mirror the ocean between the logics of the market and of ecology. Like anorexia, steroid use and abuse can be traced directly to the funhouse mirror effect of the human being gazing at itself through the prism of capitalism.
All well and good, were the effects of steroid use at all euphoric for the user. Perhaps if they were the hapless gawker could vicariously tap into some of the death trip nihilism within much other drug use and experience in some (useless) sense the doom incipient in the system. Instead, steroid use implies positive outcome, and there is a sheen of success and very real achievements that come with masked abuse (and use can be masked in many ways, from institutional non compliance (the International Federation of Body Builiding, who run the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions and are directly responsible Schwarzeneggar`s ascendence to power, has not once tested a contest winner for the presence of anabolic steroids, and WWE owner Vince McMahon is openly against drug testing of any kind, knowing full well such policies are antipathetic to his business model), to cowering behind issues of legality (Mark McGuire broke Maris` single season homerun record while under the influence of “andro”, a substance which became illegal two years after his success, and strength trainers have no problem with compounds and supplements chemically similar to anabolic steroids as long they are not the banned substances themselves), to the willful obfuscation of the mythmakers (Lance Armstrong, after winning the Tour de France seven times, is in no danger of having his titles stripped as others who went to the same doctor but lack the lucrative sheen of his triumphant battle with quicker death; Barry Bonds` natural ability to crush a ball is enough to relegate his steroid use to a sidebar)). But death hastens onward, the heart pounds harder, and this false positivism is the rigor smile on the corpse`s head. Athletic success always comes at the cost of the body; in most cases, the tradeoff is equitable. But steroid`s arena is more that of the image than of the body itself, a doublefold alienation, which unsurprisingly infers suicide. Success, as always in reality, refuses to correspond directly to human action in the same way in which it refuses to correspond to happiness. Steroids and “performance enhancing drugs” embody the rhetoric of achievement, growth and expansion. In doing so they physicalize the schizophrenic logic of capitalism, claiming these concepts as self evident when in fact they are only the manifestation of their opposites (failure and decay). Another needle plunges into the ass of human understanding.
So i surprise that cops are buying into the action. What anticipates fraud better than a police uniform? Possibly this is just a latent desire for coherence (oh I do sympathize) on the part of individual officers. The flexing arm representing domination, success and authority has finally detached itself from the last thread of viscera that connected to the weak and meager frame and become an end in itself. This is a process that has been at work for a long time now. Men who grew up in the eighties did so swallowing Hulk Hogan chewable vitamins, not knowing about the knot of scar tissue the size of a baseball on the Hulkster`s hip. People have gradually acceded to Schwarzeneggar`s will to power without acknowledging the fraud of the IFBB (founder Joe Wieder admits to awarding Arnold the 1970 body building trophy because “if I put Arnold on the cover (of Muscle and Fitness) I sell 3x copies”) or of his own (disavowed) drug use. The current debate around steroid use in sports is disingenuous- the drug has been here and will continue to be here. If this article hasn`t convinced how depressing this all is yet, I encourage you to read aloud the following list of sacrificial lambs of the entertainment industry, the professional wrestlers who have died as humiliated as they lived as result of the industry`s implicitly encouraged drug use: (Name, age, date of death, cause)<>
Jay Youngblood, 30, 9/1/85. Pancreas failure following a match.
Rick McGraw, 30. 11/1/1985. Heart Attack
Andrew “Bubba” Douglas, 42. 2/13/86. Heart Attack
Gino Hernandez, 29. 1/30/86. Cocaine Overdose.
<><><>El Solitario, 39. 4/6/86. Heart Attack
Mike Von Erich, 23. 4/12/87. Suicide.
Scott “Hog” Irwin, 35. 9/5/87. Brain Aneurysm
“Bad Bad” Leroy Brown, 38. Heart Attack
Ed “The Bull” Gantner, 31. 12/31/90. Gun Suicide. Both of his kidneys had failed due to steroid abuse.
Chief Thunder Mountain, 33. 8/91. Heart Attack.
Chris Von Erich, 21. 9/12/91. Gun Suicide.
Lance Idol, 32. 9/26/91. Heart disease
“Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer, 32. 2/7/92. Cocaine Overdose.
Kerry Von Erich, 33. 2/18/93. Gun Suicide
Oro, 21. 10/26/93. Brain aneurysm during match.
Larry Cameron, 41. 12/13/1993. Heart Attack during a match.
Ray Candy, 43. 5/23/94. Heart Attack
Tiny Anderson, 42. 94. Kidney Failure.
Love Machine (AKA Beetlejuice, AKA Art Barr), 28. 11/23/94. Heart failure brought on by alcohol and painkillers.
Jerry “Crusher” Blackwell, 45. 1/22/95. Pneumonia.
“Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, 33. 2/13/95. Heart Attack
Big John Studd, 47. 3/20/95. Liver Cancer.
“Mr. America” Don Ross (AKA Ripper Savage), 48. 6/2/95. Heart Attack
Black Venus, 47. 9/29/95. Heart Attack
Dick Murdoch, 49. 6/15/95. Heart Attack
Neil Superior, 33. 8/23/96. Died in a long, wild altercation with police. The pathologist ruled the nature of the death as “undetermined” and the cause as “multiple drug use and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease”.
Big City Mike, 38. 1/3/97. Heart Failure.
Plum Mariko, 29. 8/16/97. Brain aneurysm from a blow to the head during match.
Jeep Swenson, 40. 8/19/97. Heart Attack.
Brian Pillman, 35. 10/5/97. Heart Attack.
Big E Sleaze, 22. 10/26/1997. Gun Suicide
Louie Spiccoli, 27. 2/15/97. Choked on own vomit after mixing alcohol and soma.
Shane Shamrock, 22. 8/18/98. Shot by police during domestic disturbance.
Dan Curtis, 12/29/98. Heart Attack
“Ravishing” Rick Rude, 41. 4/20/99. Heart attack. A bottle of prescription painkillers was found by his body.
The Renegade, 33. 2/23/99. Gun Suicide.
Yuel Lovett, 28. 7/31/99. Heart Attack
Brian Hildebrand, 37. 9/8/99. Stomach Cancer.
Tony Rumble, 43. 12/19/99. Heart Attack.
Gary Albright, 36. 1/7/00. Heart Attack during match.
Mr. Ebony, 46. 12/19/99. Heart Attack
Bobby Duncum Jr., 34. 1/24/00. Overdose on painkillers and alcohol.
Jumbo Tsuruta, 49. 5/13/00. Complications from liver surgery.
Harlem Warlord, 32. 6/28/00. In surgery.
Chris Duffy, 36, 8/25/00. Seizure.
Canadian Destroyer, 41. 9/10/00. Heart Attack.
Yokozuna, 34. 10/23/00. Heart Attack
Rick Bolton, 49. 12/5/00. Heart Attack.
Sombra Negra, 30, 6/1/01 Heart Attack
Terry “Bam Bam Bigelow” Gordy, 40. 7/16/01. Heart Attack
Monster Ripper, 40, 7/27/01. Suicide
Russ Haas, 27. 12/15/01. Heart Attack.
Mike Davis, 46. 12/25/01. Heart Failure
Jeff “Rattlesnake” Raitz, 38. 2/9/02. Heart Attack.
Big Dick Dudley, 37. 5/16/02. Kidney Failure brought on by painkillers.
The British Bulldog, 39. 5/18/02. Heart Attack.
Billy Joe Travis, 11/22/02. Heart Attack
Curt Hennig (AKA Mr. Perfect), 44. 2/9/03. Acute cocaine intoxication.
“Bullwhip” Danny Johnson, 49, 7/20/03. Kidney and Liver Failure.
Joe Powers, 41. 9/3/03. Liver Disease
Anthony “Pitbull 2” Durante, 36. 9/24/03. Oxycontin overdose.
Road Warrior Hawk, 45. 10/19/03. Heart Attack.
Crash Holly, 34. 11/6/03. Choked on a pool of his own vomit and blood after taking more than 90 soma pills.
Jerry Tuite (AKA The Wall AKA Malice AKA Gigantes), 36. 12/5/03. Heart Attack.
Mike Lozanski, 35. 12/18/03. Heart Condition.
Danny Fargo, 44. 12/26/03. Heart Attack.
Hercules, 47. 3/6/04. Heart Attack.
Victor the Bodyguard, 38. 6/20/04. Heart Attack.
Big Bossman, 42. 9/23/04. Heart Attack.
El Texano, 47, 1/15/05. Lung and respiratory failure.
Chris Candido, 33. 4/28/05. Blood clots (common steroid side effect)
Eddie Guerrero, 38. 11/13/05. Heart failure brought on by high levels of steroids and narcotics.
Lord Humongous, 36. 1/29/06. Kidney Failure.
Johnny Grunge, 39. 2/26/06. Complications from sleep apnea.
Earthquake, 42. 6/7/07. Bladder Cancer.
Tiger Khan, 33. 6/26/06. Heart Attack.
Jimmy “Hustler” Alicea, 33. 11/21/06. Heart Attack.
The Lovely Elizabeth, 42. 5/1/03. Choked to death on own vomit after mixing alcohol and painkillers.
Chris Benoit, 40. 6/24/07. Double murder/suicide.