In 2013, on Oprah Winfrey’s live talk show, the seven-time winner of the “Tour de France” multiple stage bicycle race, cyclist Lance Armstrong confessed to using doping. Doping scandals often activate people’s interest in certain sports.
It is interesting to know that the popularity of baseball had been plummeting by the time the litigations connected with the use of banned drugs by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and a number of the best league’s athletes started. And what about basketball? Do NBA basketball players use steroids?
NBA steroids problem – two opposite opinions
Some experts believe that NBA players often use steroids. It’s enough to take a quick look at the facts to understand that it’s extremely difficult to do without chemical substances in this kind of sport. Just look at the requirements for a players’s physique, the loads they have to sustain, hectic schedules, fatiguing flights, and high intensity. Look at football. Yes, it is another sport with its own laws, but an important factor is this: the teams are fighting for an extra day, trying to find an extra 24 hours for acclimatization and adaptation after the flight and so on. In the NBA system, teams play three matches for three days away, four – for five, five – for seven. There are neither shifts, nor breaks. In this sport, you need to play 100 matches to win the championship.
Of course, the exercising process suffers, when a long team session may not be held for a few weeks, but sportsmen have to sustain an incredible load. Do not forget that in this mode, even without the Olympics, or World and European championships, they typically play not for a year or two, but for ten to twelve years, despite all minor injuries, severe injuries and operations. Both older players and young ones, everyone has to work relentlessly. Is it possible for a contemporary player not to just endure these hardships with dignity, but also additionally to exercise the whole summer to the max, come first to the gym, stay after exercising in order to have a chance for the minimum progress without which he will not achieve anything? Yes, they come across as supermen. But only a few believe in fairy tales. Therefore, athletes over thirty were typically considered written-off. The level of help that sports medicine offered left them virtually no chance. Now they can play much longer.
This is one point of view. Now let’s move on to the opposite one. A lot of athletes in every sport just love the game and will not risk a career for the sake of improving their results.
Some sports experts believe that the anti-doping test in basketball is not easy to avoid, and most importantly, this process is very long and unpleasant. Basketball players in the United States undergo mandatory testing, not only in the NBA, but also in the D-league – the standards are the same everywhere. Therefore, they hardly use steroids in sports.
Insignificant steroid scandal in 2016
In 2016, the book by 65-year-old George Karl, who trained various teams in the strongest basketball league of the world from 1984 to 2016 (with short breaks), was quoted by NBC Sports.
NBC Sports cited the excerpt from Karl’s autobiographical book “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection”: “Doping is a big problem. And I’m not talking about the cases when players caught in recreational drugs. The league uses really serious drugs – growth hormone, steroids and stuff. I was always amazed by the regularity with which some players went to Germany every offseason. I guess they did not go there to buy sauerkraut! Indeed, in Europe, the best scientists are engaged in doping research. And the methods of its concealment are always a couple of steps ahead of the methods of its detection. Alas, I do not know how to solve this problem.”
However, if we compare, for example, baseball with basketball, the latter does not have very well-known steroid scandals that would shake the whole world or at least the US.
What’s the truth?
Steroids are considered less beneficial for NBA players than for athletes of other kinds of sport. However, we can’t say that they have no advantages for basketball players. The principal benefit involves steroids’ healing properties which can help sportsmen, especially older ones, recover from injuries. While football and baseball players do not have to worry about putting on some weight, extra weight for a basketball player is the enemy. In basketball, outstanding athletes are often the ones you least want to see in decisive seconds on the baseball field. If you have built too much muscle mass, you are more likely to lose speed and mobility, which will be a problem not only for you, but for the whole team – you will have to compensate for your shortcomings with fouls. Yes, of course, in the NBA there are a lot of players who, from our prospective, should gain some muscle mass, but they openly state that they feel comfortable and will not change anything in their physique.
On the other hand, if we saw basketball players’ using steroids widely for the purpose of faster recovery, we wouldn’t be shocked.
However, all this is just a theory. Possibly there are NBA steroids sportsmen who took drugs to increase their performance and have just not been found out yet.