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Reflections on Mark McGwire and Baseball's Steroid Era
This week, former Home Run king Mark McGwire finally came clean on his steroid use. But in this day and age of advanced legal supplementation, is "cheating" even necessary?
On January 11, 2010, 12 years after the then-magical, now asterisked baseball season in which he did battle with Sammy Sosa in a race to obliterate Roger Maris' hallowed home-run record, Mark McGwire finally admitted what many suspected all along. He had help -- and it was more than that infamous over-the-counter androstenedione supplement he had sitting in his locker.
In a tearful interview with the Associated Press, McGwire, still hedging, said he took steroids for much of his career for "health purposes," but it's undeniable they played a decided role in his 583 career home runs, placing him eighth on the all-time list. Indeed, it's the specter of suspected -- and now confirmed -- use of performance-enhancing drugs that has kept McGwire far short of the necessary votes for inclusion in the Hall of Fame, despite numbers that would otherwise cement a player's acceptance:  The 70 home runs in 1998, setting a then single-season record (later broken by Barry Bonds' 73 in 2001); an average of one home run every 10.6 at-bats, putting him No. 1 in that category; a 1987 Rookie of the Year award; and 12 All-Star appearances over his 16-year major league career (1986-2001) with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.
"I wish I had never touched steroids," McGwire said in that AP interview. "It was foolish and it was a mistake." No matter what you think of the former "Bash Brother" and this latest black eye for Major League Baseball, it's hard to disagree with that statement. Now, at 47, instead of being able to look back on a career that was earned and untainted, McGwire must struggle with the fact that what he accomplished is in doubt, and what he could have done on his own will never really be known, to him or the world. It's a life lesson for everyone who faces such a decision as to whether to cheat to gain an edge.
For athletes, it's true -- nothing legal can equal or surpass the performance-enhancing benefits of steroids and human growth hormone. Such drugs are powerful substances, and can transform the human body, raising strength levels to incredible heights. But those effects can sometimes come with dangerous side effects, and they always come with the stigma that they provide an unnatural edge, and unfairly warp the playing field.
Luckily, for athletes who prefer to stay clean, avoid shortcuts and do it the right way, there are other options, options that can help those even at the elite level of their sports perform at their peak. It has been said before, but it's worth repeating: Hard work in the gym, consistent practice to improve your skill sets, and careful nutrition and supplementation will pay dividends in the short run and the long run.
If McGwire had the opportunity to do it all again, he arguably could have still achieved Hall of Fame status, without the assistance of illegal substances. There's truth to his statement to the AP that "there's no way a pill or an injection will give you hand-eye coordination or the ability or the great mind that I've had as a baseball player." Indeed, hundreds of players over the years have also taken the steroid route and didn't come near his on-the-field accomplishments. Had he coupled his natural skills with legal means of self-improvement, the sky still may have been the limit. We'll never know.
But for those at the beginning of an athletic career, it's your opportunity to find out what your ultimate potential is. In addition to lifting, tenacity in regard to practice, a diet low in saturated fats and high in quality protein, fruits and vegetables, there are a host of quality supplements you can turn to instead of steroids. In this day and age, the science of legal, healthy supplementation has reached a mind-blowing pinnacle, as researchers continually push the leading edge to help recreational and elite athletes excel. The breakthroughs in high-impact supplementation range from drastically improving the bioavailability of protein powder to increasing the already enviable benefits of creatine to naturally spurring your body's production of that all-important muscle-building and strength-enhancing hormone, testosterone, to name but three examples.
Androtest ExtremeTake ProSource's AndroTest Extreme. This clinically tested testosterone booster may represent the greatest advancement in natural testosterone-boosting science ever. Fueled by the first-ever clinically validated Tribulus terrestris extract standardized for 40 percent to 48 percent protodioscin levels -- representing 40 times more active protodioscin than competing formulas -- a powerful Eurycoma longfolia extract, and a specialized fenugreek extract standardized for 50% fenusides and trade-named Testofen, AndroTest delivers astounding results. Indeed, the precursor compound Testofen has been shown in a human clinical study to increase free testosterone levels by 98.81% (after 8 weeks in healthy subjects). Again, this from a natural, completely legal product, available now.
In addition to top-quality ingredients, advancements in supplementation are also being driven by strategically combining ingredients to take advantage of how they work synergistically. ProSource ZMA is a great example. It's a combo of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. Hard training athletes are especially susceptible to losing important nutrients through sweat and urination. ZMA replenishes some of the key nutrients lost -- zinc, which plays a vital role in testosterone production, and magnesium, which aids in muscle recovery after hard training sessions. Together, they have a proven positive effect on test levels, greater than either of them possess alone.
Those are just two examples of what's available to those who don't want to take shortcuts to the top of their chosen sport. The ProSource website is loaded with all manner of supplements you can use to reach your goals, safely and effectively. While the temptation to cheat will always be there, and while some athletes will still do so no matter what the consequences, many others will continue to prove that you can achieve greatness without deception. For those of you who take the high road, ProSource is there to help you on your journey.