Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cops on Steroids?

This is a post that could offend some powerful locals. It seems that Jim Betts, one of three candidates for Siskiyou County Sheriff, mentioned that he bulked up from 175 to his current huge girth with the aid of a supplement which used to be available in Walmart, but which you can't get any more. This comment was in the middle of a long and effusive article in the Fort Jones Pioneer Press. Betts is currently a captain in the sheriff's department and is the jail administrator.

What might this supplement be? He isn't saying, but we have two clues: first, it was very effective. He got huge. Second, that it has recently become unavailable without a prescription. This suggests that it was probably Androstenedione, the steroid that Mark McGwire used the year he hit 70 home runs. This substance was available over the counter with no restrictions until January, 2005, when the FDA banned its sale.  here

If he wasn't using androstenedione, it was probably one of 18 similar chemicals banned at the same time. (If anyone connected with the Betts campaign can prove that this is incorrect, I will be happy to make a retraction.) You could split hairs and call these substances steroid precursors, but they act on the body like steroids, and are currently regulated like steroids. What is the problem with this? Well, if you're a guy, one of the side effects is testicular atrophy, but this wouldn't affect his abilities as a sheriff. The big problem is that steroids, by increasing testosterone, make a man more aggressive and irritable. This is why Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco had such obnoxious personalities. here  (scroll down.)

Now there are a few occasions when a steroidal personality would help a cop take down a bad guy. But there are many more occasions when a cop needs to be a diplomat to get people to cooperate. This is especially true for the top cop in the department. It might sometimes be true, even in his current position as jail administrator.

Maybe this discussion is too alarmist. The testosterone impact of andro is believed to be short-lived. I don't know how long any behavioral effects would last. If he has really avoided andro since 2005, it may not be a problem. What would definitely be a problem is that he is high risk for a coronary that could end his career, possibly requiring a special election. A lot of his muscle mass has turned to lard, and andro definitely reduces the HDL/LDL ratio.

Update:  This is a bigger story nationally than I thought.  A Google search of "Cops on Steroids" had 355,000 hits.  (Couldn't find this piece)  Anyway, here is one of them:  Men's health article

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