The use of anabolic steroids for strength-building has filtered down to high school and junior high school sports, threatening grave consequences, Assemblyman Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres) says.
Steroid use in sports is one of several issues to be examined by the Assembly subcommittee on sports and entertainment, which Condit chairs, during summer hearings around the state that began at the State Building in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Condit said he has received "alarming information" suggesting that the use of steroid drugs has filtered down to schoolyards and that youths may be encouraged to use the drugs to emulate professional athletes.
Steroids speeds body-cell growth and builds muscle bulk quickly. They put a heavy strain on the heart, as well as causing serious damage to the liver and kidneys, according to medical sources.
The chemicals are available through a doctor's prescription or by mail order, Condit said. Reports indicate that steroids are prevalent in contact sports and that a majority of professional athletes use them, he added.
A former weightlifting champion and physical education professor at the University of Texas testified before the committee that athletes are using steroids the way they once used vitamin pills. Terry Todd, who first used steroids 25 years ago as a weightlifting competitor, said the use of them "has grown in a way, in those days, we could never predict."
Todd said that although he only used small doses of it for three years, he has researched and studied steroids as part of his work at the University of Texas.
Also appearing before the subcommittee were two victims of steroid use.
Glen Maur of Alhambra said he used them for nine years before his career as a body-building champion was ended by quadruple bypass surgery.
Maur suffered a heart attack at 33, although his family had no history of heart attacks. Doctors told him it was linked to his use of steroids, Maur said.
Bill Lumas of Long Beach said he first began taking steroids with a prescription from his doctor. Lumas said he used them to "get in shape." Doctors later found a four-pound tumor in his liver, and told him it had been chemically induced, Lumas said.
Condit said that a bill restricting the use of steroids is just one of the options available to his subcommittee after it hears testimony. Appropriate legislation could be introduced in the state Assembly in January, he said.