ISSN 9th Annual Conference – 2012 in Clearwater
By – Bruce Kneller, Giant Sports
I just got back from the ISSN annual conference in Clearwater where we got drenched by Tropical Storm “Debby.” Despite the rainy, overcast days, this was an excellent conference and I have to confess – of all the events I attend each year, The Olympia, The Arnold, Supply Side West, etc., I like the ISSN annual convention the best. I admit it – I am a bit of a science geek and the ISSN convention is where us “geeks” get together to discuss the most cutting edge research related to sports nutrition.
This year under the auspices of Dr. Lem Taylor, who is President of the ISSN, the show went off without a hitch despite the inclement weather. The poster sessions were very informative, I met a lot of old friends in the industry and I got the chance to make a number of new friends too. Despite the number of “techie-science” presentations and seminars, I think the best presentation was the very last one. It was a presentation given by industry veteran John Romano who is now a consultant for VPX Sports. John’s presentation genuinely scared me. You see, John’s presentation dealt with the absurdity, hypocrisy and rampant waste we in America are forced to endure when our officials (often unelected officials accountable to nobody) decide that “prosecuting” people for using performance enhancing drugs – a “crime” that generally hurts nobody nor (I would argue) hurts society in general – is a good use of tax dollars and other law enforcement resources.
Quite obviously, one can cull from watching John’s exceptionally logical and well put together presentation that John (like myself and Marc Lobliner) has a bit of a Libertarian streak in him. I would also say that John (like myself and maybe Marc Lobliner) is angry if not downright indignant about the persecution and “criminalization” of athletes and regular, everyday people who elect to use performance enhancing drugs and even your garden variety dietary supplements (e.g., creatine – more on this in a few moments).
I am going to crib a few thoughts from John’s presentation (sorry John) and expand upon them a bit. It is my I hope that all of you will reflect upon all this and come the Autumn when it’s time to vote that you will at least keep these thoughts in the back of your mind when you pull that lever in the voting booth.
- Realize that in some middle schools (where kids ages 12-14 are generally studying) young girls can obtain access to “free” oral contraception and contraceptive injections, often without their parent’s being notified. They’re not really “free” – my tax dollars and your tax dollars are paying to support these drugs in middle schools. And make no mistake about it, these are drugs – prescription drugs. Further, these “contraceptive drugs” are absolutely steroidal in nature. Yet, if a 45 year old middle-aged man wants his physician to write him a prescription for testosterone gel or injections, it’s essentially unlikely to happen unless his endogenous testosterone levels are so low that heis virtually androgynous or ”almost female.” Even if his testosterone level is 1/3rd of what it was when he was 18 years old, it’s going to be a serious fight to get a prescription for hormone replacement therapy because most physicians are terrified to write for “anabolic steroids” even if their use is clearly indicated by the most apparent and obvious clinical observations (even if the laboratory numbers aren’t quite there). So in America, one may assume that we condone premarital sex among pre-teens by making free hormonal drugs available to them in school in order to prevent an undesired side effect of gratuitous sex (i.e. pregnancy) yet we will prosecute, incarcerate, seize the assets of and generally try to ruin the life of a middle aged man for merely having the temerity to want to feel a little better and look a little younger. Yeah, so that makes sense to me, how about you folks? I am not OK with this situation and neither should any of you out there if you have any common sense.
- Realize that the AMA, the DEA, the FDA and a whole gamut of other professional organizations initially did not want anabolic steroids placed into the venue of “controlled substances” and quite clearly articulated such when asked for commentary. None of these organizations felt that anabolic steroids meet the definition of drugs that should be placed federally in Schedule C-III which is the same schedule that Vicodin, Tylenol with Codeine, many amphetamine-like substances, many barbituates and dronabinol softgel capsules (that’s a pure isomer of THC for those of you who do not recognize it) are regulated under. People may do a lot of things to get money to buy gear, but robbing banks, liquor stores and gas stations aren’t among these things as far as I can tell. I am not seeing news stories popping up weekly (or ever!) of juiced out dudes beating up old ladies and stealing their purses! With opiates and amphetamines the situation is vastly different. Additionally, people aren’t getting popped for OUI’s/DWI’s when they use steroids. The same is not true for any other substance found in Schedule C-III. Again, I am not OK with this situation and neither should any of you out there if you have any common sense.
- The idea that kids look up to athletes and therefore athletes should not use performance enhancing drugs because it may adversely impact the behavior of young children is capricious and arbitrary. Kids look up to and often try to emulate movie stars and musicians – two groups who are notoriously known for serious drug use/addiction. Yet, we don’t see many (any?) musicians or movie stars being dragged before congressional subcommittees and forced to divulge highly sensitive personal information under pain of perjury. We don’t see many movie stars or musicians being federally indicted and then prosecuted for their testimony before Congress when someone government lackey does not like what he hears in such testimony.
- I want to know why our government thinks it has some mandate or jurisdictional providence to interfere with the internal policies and machinations of a private enterprise (e.g., baseball, football, professional cycling, track and field, etc.) regarding drug testing when there is no constitutional clause or precedent that allows for any of this? I mean, why stop at sports? Why not have investigations into drug use in beauty pageants, professional modeling or Dancing With The Stars?
- John pointed out that our government has spent – wasted really – better than $200,000,000 (that’s two hundred million dollars) prosecuting a handful of athlete’s with virtually a ZERO conviction rate. I think that says a lot right there. This is an astronomical amount of money, it is likely enough money to purchase outright something like one thousand houses for families who are homeless. I don’t know about you folks but if it were up to me? I’d rather have seen that money used to shelter homeless Americans than persecute hyperwealthy sports stars who all just “lawyered up” anyhow and beat what were exceedingly weak cases to begin with.
- Our government tried to blame creatine use by high school athletes for about a dozen and a half cases of Compartment Syndrome, a serious condition that involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow. Indeed, it can sometimes even be life threatening. There was no real scientific evidence to suggest that creatine was even possibly responsible for this other than all the high schoolers who came down with the condition claimed they were using creatine. But correlation does not equate to causality. I am sure all the kids drank milk and ate carbohydrates too. So why not blame milk and snack foods for this? Turns out all the cases of Compartment Syndrome were in the same limb in all the student athlete’s prompting some bright person to “drug test them?” Guess what? All of the kids were using injectable aqueous steroid suspensions – something any bodybuilder or powerlifter likely could have guessed as these drugs are ubiquitously known to cause localized infections at the injection site. For some reason, I do not recall any of the high schoolers being tested for creatine usage though. I find this…odd!
- There is a general and growing consensus among officials in our government that if you “use something” (e.g., steroids, HGH, EPO or even OTC dietary supplements) you are somehow “cheating” which is leading to more and more restrictions against athletes of all statures regarding what they can ingest. It may actually come down to some athletes not being able to use medically necessary therapies – perhaps increasing morbidity and mortality in these populations – in order to remain competitive and in order to be allowed to compete. Who wins here?
- Most of the hoopla and hype surrounding the negative perception of performance enhancing drugs and even many dietary supplements is based on pure anecdote and not solid science. This is one of the few areas of life where government intervention – unneeded government intervention – has been initiated and perpetuated based on hyperbole and bullshit rather than anything resembling science or logic. I can show you all sorts of studies that correlate increases in morbidity and mortality with use of tobacco, alcohol, & junk food – yet all of these are legal under most circumstances and all of these are readily and legally obtainable in most cities and towns (and in the case of junk food, even in many elementary school!). Yet the same is not true for performance enhancing drugs and in some cases, stuff that is or used to be a dietary supplement (I would argue that ephedrine should still be a dietary supplement as should phenylpropanolamine and several other compounds the government has seen to “ban” in recent memory).
In the last few decades we have seen a considerable erosion in our rights as citizens of this country to have sovereignty over our own bodies – to be masters of our own destiny and enjoy the freedoms that are (supposedly) guaranteed in the body of our constitution. In the next few years, “clarification” regarding DSHEA 1994, NDI’s, what “is or is not” a dietary ingredient or a dietary supplement is going to be determined essentially via administrational diktat by people who were never elected to office and who are merely “appointed czar’s.” No hearings, no public commentary and most importantly, no public votes. It does not take a genius on par with Einstein to see there is great likelihood that our personal liberties and freedoms will be reduced even further.
John Romano’s talk made me think deeply about these things, the flagrant hypocrisy, the overt waste of tax payer dollars and the increasing grabs for power by people who are apparently accountable to nobody at all – by bureaucrats who have no real oversight by any elected officials and who can pretty much do as they see fit. That is why John Romano scared me. And I am hoping that this article is sufficient enough to scare some of you.
Support Bruce Kneller’s Product Line–Try Delicious Protein At TigerFitness.com TODAY!