Surgeon General in Reno says steroids are public health concern
By SCOTT SONNER
Associated Press Writer
RENO – U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona said Monday he is “greatly concerned” about the impact of pro baseball players abusing steroids on young athletes who see them as role models.
He also said leaders of other professional sports should examine whether their athletes are abusing steroids.
“From my standpoint, it is less a moral or ethical issue than it is a public health issue,” Dr. Carmona told The Associated Press.
“If youngsters are seeing their role models practicing this kind of behavior and it seems acceptable, then we need to do something about that because it is a health risk,” he said in an interview.
Carmona said he has not decided whether Congress should get involved in Major League Baseball fails to enforce stronger rules against steroid abuse – as some lawmakers advocate.
“As surgeon general, it is something that greatly concerns me but we need to get more of the facts first,” he said before a speech in Reno at a “Fatherhood Summit” organized by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
“I’m waiting to hear what the baseball commissioner says, what their fact-finding board said, what the facts are. Who did use it? Who didn’t use it? I really don’t know those things,” Carmona said.
Steroids can cause a host of health problems, from organ failure and cancer to problems with growth and development, he said.
“It is good that (Major League) Baseball is saying we need to examine this and I think other sports need to examine it also,” Carmona said.
“For me, I’m responsible for the public health of the country so our children I especially worry about if they are seeing their role models allegedly engaging in this activity,” he said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday Congress should get involved if the league fails to act on its own and predicted President Bush would sign tougher prohibitions on steroid use.
The matter has been in the spotlight since the San Francisco Chronicle reported details last week of players’ testimony to a federal grand jury that indicted four people on charges of illegally distributing steroids to top athletes.
One of those indicted was the personal trainer of the San Francisco Giants’ Barry Bonds, whose 73 home runs in 2001 is the game’s single-season record and who is 53 homers away from breaking Hank Aaron’s all-time record of 755. Bonds told the grand jury he used a cream and a clear substance but said he didn’t know they were forbidden substances.
“The important aspect of this issue is not Barry Bonds” or other big names, McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“The important aspect of this issue is that high school kids all over America believe that this is the only way they can make it. Ask any high school coach.”