Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Director Chris Bell's new documentary takes us inside the steroid controversy

In your film, you touch on former NFL defensive end Lyle Alzado's steroid use and question whether or not it contributed to his death. Personally, do you think there was a connection?

It's hard to say. He used hormones harvested from human cadavers, which could have been something that led to a brain tumor, but no one is sure of that. As far as anabolic steroids and testosterone goes, there's no link whatsoever between testosterone and brain tumors, so I don't think it had anything to do with his death. A lot of people think AIDS killed Lyle Alzado, but we can't really prove that. Even Lyle's own doctor came out later on and said his death wasn't because of steroids.

Alzado was once quoted as saying that "steroids are addictive." Would you agree with that statement?

I think steroids breed addictive behavior, but I don't think the drugs are physically addictive. Basically, the reason people take steroids is that they want to get bigger and look better, and when steroids work you want to stay bigger and continue to look better—that's where the addictive qualities come in.

You were able to dig up documentation that proved some Olympic athletes who tested positive for banned substances in the 1980s were later allowed to compete. Do you believe the Olympics are still corrupt in regard to drug screening?

Absolutely. We're going to have one of the biggest Olympics in years this summer in China and that's where all the drugs actually come from. There is no test for human growth hormone. The test for EPO (Erythropoietin) can be easily manipulated, as can tests for testosterone, so I think we're definitely going to have athletes using drugs in the Olympics and I don't know if any of them will get caught. They know how to pass the tests.

A power-lifting scene from Bigger, Stronger, Faster.
Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures.

Do you believe steroids for the purpose of physique and performance enhancement will ever be made legal?

There's not a lot of research in terms of the possible depression that follows coming off of steroids, so I don't know if they should be made legal in terms of being sold over-the-counter. They're very powerful hormones. As far as going to the doctor and having them prescribe something to help you get in shape and feel better, I don't see that as being much different than plastic surgery, as long as it's safe and medically approved. We've seen drugs such as Viox linked to the death of thousands of people. Testosterone has been on the market since 1933 and it's never been taken off. Is it dangerous? Is it killing people? If it were, wouldn't the government have taken it off the market?

Bigger, Stronger, Faster is in theaters now.


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