He had a source, he said. A druggist gave the bottles of Anavar and pure testosterone to his father. Then his father gave the steroids to him.
Marty Young was playing nose guard on the Indiana University football team at the time, 1979-80-81. Like any other "guy who wanted to be the best he could," Young said, "I took the steroids. I took Anavar daily and about once a month I stuck a needle full of the testosterone in my arm. I knew and respected all the bad effects. But it made my strength go up so much faster. If I ever had to play again, there's no question that I would take steroids again without thinking twice."
For more than two years, while taking steroids, Young lifted weights five days a week and consumed a minimum of 8,000 calories a day.
"Of about 70 guys on the team," he said, "I'd say only about 20 of us took steroids. There may have been more than that, though. Some of the guys wanted to keep it a secret. I guess they were embarrassed. Maybe they thought those who didn't take steroids would say what they'd gained wasn't real."
As an aftereffect of steroid use, Young said he suffered cramping "from head to toe. My muscles just locked and it was hell to get them undone." He also admits he can't help but wonder if his use of steroids had anything to do with the severe pains and internal bleeding that resulted in stomach surgery. "Maybe it just speeded up everything," he said.
Bill Montgomery, the strength coach at Indiana, said policing the use of steroids is "just about impossible. Unless you run a blood test or find their pills or know for certain they're going to a doctor, you really have no way of proving it. How many of our players used steroids, I really don't know. I never approved of that, so it was kept away from me. I heard rumors, though. I always thought it was stupid to take any drug to increase athletic performance. And without medical supervision, it's even more stupid."
Those strength coaches adamant in their stand against the use of steroids claim athletes who indulge in the "strength juice" do so with blind ignorance. "Ever read a musclehead magazine?" asked Dan Riley, conditioning and strength coach for the Washington Redskins. "Every other page has something about pumping up with steroids on it. All the bad information floating around about what makes you strong is ruining our kids."
Many athletes who take steroids claim the drug causes the body to retain more nitrogen and, as a result, protein utilization is improved and results in promoting muscle growth. A high protein intake is necessary if muscle growth is to occur, so they supplement their diets with protein-powder drinks and large amounts of fish, chicken and red meat.
For adult males, some of the bad effects of steroid use are liver complications, heart disease, testicular atrophy, priapism, deepening of the voice, acne and boils on the skin, a trigger effect of any cancer in the body and permanent loss of hair. There are more.
Children who take steroids can suffer epiphysis, a condition that causes the end of long bones to mature much faster and close prematurely. This results in stunted growth.
A college strength coach, who asked not to be identified, said, "I know the bad, but I know the good, too. As a strength builder, there's no doubt that anabolic steroids help. When a kid comes to me and asks about steroids, I first list the bad effects. I would never just come out and suggest that a kid take steroids. If he wants to do it, however, I know he's telling me he wants to be a better player. It then becomes his decision. There's really nothing I can tell him."
The coach said he himself took steroids when he was playing college football. "I wanted to be as strong as I could be. I told my family physician I wanted to build up for football. He wrote up the prescription. But if you really want steroids, you can get them anywhere under the table. That's no sweat."
Athletes call steroids not prescribed by a physician "hot stuff." Although it cannot be purchased over the counter without a prescription, it can be obtained easily, usually from teammates. "You can just look at a guy and tell if he takes steroids," Young said. "You can tell by how pumped up he is. If you want some hot stuff, all you have to do is hold out your palm and ask."
Donald Nolan, team physician for the Redskins, said, "I think the evidence on steroids is not in yet. The research has not been done, but I think they're dangerous."
Dr. Nolan said most athletes "believe if one dose is good, then two is better. They have no understanding of what they're taking. That's the problem. Most are naive to how drugs work."
Riley said that athletes who took steroids 10 years ago are now showing complications. "I think the coach who condones the use of steroids is to blame. He's the one who asks for the extra inch in the broad jump or the extra foot in the shot. I could never allow that in good conscience."
Riley said steroid doses 10 years ago rarely exceeded five milligrams. Today, some athletes take as much as 1,000 milligrams a day. "Just knowing the effects that have hurt those guys who took steroids 10 years ago, and took smaller doses, should tell everybody to leave steroids alone. But some guys don't want to pay their dues . . . Usually, it's the insecure athlete who takes steroids. It's the kid with a lot of deep-seated insecurities."
The good effect of taking steroids, muscle gain, is not long-lasting. Young weighed 265 pounds when he played for Indiana. He now weighs 240. "It's just filling your body with water," said Young. "In the end, it all goes away."