DORNEY: Mandatory Steroid Testing For All

Sport's latest hot button—steroids—continues to dominate the media. What's new? Enough already. In my view, all professional athletes should be tested for performance-enhancing drugs. Period. This policy should have been mandated decades ago when the technology first became available. The reason's simple. Save Man from himself.

Mandatory Steroid Testing For All

by KEITH DORNEY
former Detroit Lions offensive lineman and Roar Report contributor
author of Black and Honolulu Blue: In The Trenches of the NFL

Welcome to football season. It's been a particularly brutal hiatus for me, with the gap between meaningful sporting events—at least in my narrow view—larger than ever, given the absence of puck. The last game of the NBA finals lingers like a faraway memory.

Sport's latest hot button—steroids—continues to dominate the media. What's new? Enough already. In my view, all professional athletes should be tested for performance-enhancing drugs. Period. This policy should have been mandated decades ago when the technology first became available. The reason's simple. Save Man from himself.

In the ridiculously competitive worlds of professional sports, men will do just about anything to gain an edge up. It's the nature of the beast. In case you haven't noticed, we're not the same as women, and it's not just on the outside. Maybe we simply evolved differently, like the divergent paths of Homo Erectus and Neanderthal, and that is why we always have to control the remote, never ask for directions, and forget to put the seat down on the toilet.

Maybe you've noticed as well that men are more competitive than women. This competitiveness transcends sports. Put Man in a competitive situation—any situation—and before you know it, the testosterone is flying, and the combatants are going to great lengths to prevail. I once saw two grown men beat the crap out of each other over a game of backgammon. The aggressor, who had been repeatedly beaten at the board game by his best friend the last ten times they had played, reached the end of his patience with his friend's gloating and the fact that he wasn't clever enough to best him even once, so he socked him. (The pugilist, incidentally, went on to become a highly revered trial lawyer.) To their credit, these two starting being civil to each other as early as the next day, before the gashes on their faces had healed, and were back playing the same game with each other in three.

Put together a bunch of highly competitive men, all striving for the same thing, and it's just a matter of time before things escalate out of control. Mix together the prospects of fame, riches, and power, with a shot of testosterone for zest and the male ego as the swizzle stick, and you've got a wicked cocktail that, much like its alcohol counterpart, will eventually lead to using bad judgment. What is right and wrong becomes skewed. A lawyer bends the rules to win a huge settlement or acquit his multimillion-dollar client. A politician accepts dubious campaign contributions to win office. A banker finds a loophole to satisfy his growing greed. Often the cheating escalates, with each side trying to outdo the other, and what they're trying to satisfy gets lost in a sea of competitiveness. And the effects are often much more damaging, far-reaching, and profound in the real world than in the sports world.

Yes, cheating has existed, and probably always will exist, in football, no matter what the testing procedure. I'm sure a scientist somewhere is working day and night right now on some monkey ball hormone extract that won't show up on the NFL's current drug test.

Then and Now: Drug Testing in Professional Sports

When drug testing was in its infancy, you were given a cup and you'd go by yourself into the bathroom to fill it up. I once saw a player come out of the bathroom stirring the pee in his cup with his index finger. He could have had some wicked pee fetish, but it's more likely he was dissolving a neutralizing agent to mask whatever it was he was injecting, popping, or snorting.

Just as cheating has evolved, so have the drug tests. The witnessed test was mandated to combat the pee additives, the freeze-dried urine, the use of your girlfriend's pee concealed in a bottle somewhere on your person, and the myriad other devious methods for cheating. The witnessed test is when a gentleman in a lab coat follows you into the bathroom and watches you piss into the cup. (Boy, I wonder how you get that job.)

One of the components to the
now infamous "Whizzinator."
Photo Courtesy Whizzinator Website

Technology countered right back with products like the now infamous Whizzinator©, a kit containing a fake penis, freeze-dried urine, and tubing. This is a real product! Go and Google "whizzinator" and check it out for yourself.

To combat the Whizzinator©, as well as other products I'm too embarrassed to describe here, the drug-testing people have stepped it up a notch. Do you have any idea what current NFL players have to endure in order to comply with these new standards? You can write it off, attribute it to a very small price to pay in return for all those millions, but it's still downright embarrassing. 

Let me share with you an excerpt from my soon-to-be-published novel about professional football, which is tentatively entitled "Fools' Paradise." It will give you a taste (sorry, wrong word) of what players have to put up with to ensure us a good, clean game.

Here's a quick synopsis of the storyline so you can understand the context. It's the day after the eighth game of the season. The Detroit Engine, now two and six (sound familiar?), lost to the New York Empire the day before, and Warren Coffey, one of the Engine's starting offensive tackles, is just getting out of bed the next morning with his wife Ellen:

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