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January 23, 1987

Steroids in Sports: After Four Decades, Time to Return These Genies to Bottle?

JAMA. 1987;257(4):421-427. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390040031003

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IN THE AFTERMATH of the first postseason drug testing by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), two things are apparent. Many college football players see nothing wrong with taking anabolic steroids, either from a health or ethical stand-point, and, evidently, little is known about these drugs' effects.

The most publicized of the more than 20 collegiate athletes from at least seven universities who were barred from participation in postseason bowl games because they had used steroids was All-America linebacker Brian Bosworth of the University of Oklahoma. At a press conference, Bosworth criticized the NCAA and said: "Steroids are a legal drug. I'll continue to fight against the abuse of drugs—recreational drugs that are destroying society. Steroids aren't destroying society."

Several of the athletes whose steroid use was detected said they took them for injuries, primarily knee injuries. These statements seemed to indicate that not only were they eager to make