Androstenedione: Just Another Supplement

Matt Netemeyer
Ms. Vicki Curts
English 1001
19 November 1998

Suppose that you were a distressed student, but you knew of a pill that would enable you to get better grades. Would you choose to take them or not? It would be preposterous to say that many would not. Mark McGwire, first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, had to make a decision similar to this. The decision he was forced to make was whether or not to use the body supplement androstenedione. This year, Mark McGwire broke the single season record for home runs and everyone made a big ordeal about his use of androstenedione. Many felt that since androstenedione is already outlawed in Professional Football, the Olympics, and the NCAA, then it should be illegal in Major League Baseball as well. Once again I ask if it were possible for you to enhance any part of your body, would you choose to do so?
Over the Thanksgiving break, my grandfather and I got into a discussion about McGwire. He told me that he felt that McGwire should not even be mentioned for MVP this year because of his use of andro. I said, grandpa, as a farmer you are constantly looking for ways to increase crop yield. The answer is always some type of fertilizer. Every other farmer may also choose to use these fertilizers, but some do not. Androstenedione is like a fertilizer to McGwire. To say that he does not deserve the MVP would be like saying you are unable to collect the extra money that you receive as a result of a good harvest. After that, he quietly walked away from the table! This from a man who is known for always having the last word.
Mark McGwire is a 6’5”, 250 pound first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. McGwire started his career in Oakland California with the Athletics. He was traded to St. Louis in 1997 for three pitchers and was worked into the lineup immediately. His ability to hit home runs has not just recently come about. In his rookie year of 1987, he was the American League Home Run Champion with 49. Once again, in 1996, McGwire was the American League Home Run Champion with 52. To say that andro has given McGwire the chance to hit home runs is insane. He has participated in nine out of ten possible home run derby’s. To be invited into the Home Run Derby, you must be known for hitting many home runs. He averages a home run every 8.13 at bats. McGwire acquired his skill to hit home runs long before his use of androstenedione arose. Mark McGwire is not only a power hitter, but also a smart hitter. McGwire got most of his home runs after he had already reached a full count. He also led the Major League in walks. “Androstenedione had nothing to do with these stats” (McCallum 17).
“Androstenedione is a sex steroid hormone, which is converted in your body to testosterone” ( Hazard Alert 143). It is found naturally in all mammals in the gonads and adrenal glands. If taken correctly, andro should increase blood levels of both androstenedione and testosterone. Also, increased energy, enhanced recovery and growth from exercise, heightened sexual arousal and function, as well as greater sense of well being. (“Androstenedione”)
Before being realized in the United States, andro had been used in Europe as a nasal spray to increase athletic ability. Right now, the debate over androstenedione has intensified due to Mark McGwire’s uncanny ability to hit the long ball. Those who feel as though andro should not be banned in baseball, state that it has nothing to do with baseball, so they wonder what all the buzz is about. Those who agree with the banning of andro in baseball, wish not to take anything away from Mark McGwire, but believe that it should be banned due to lack of knowledge of long-term effects. As long as andro is legal, there should be no question as to whether or not Mark McGwire should be allowed to use it. Until major league baseball finally makes a decision on the banning of the drug though, there will always be much controversy.
Still, there have not been many studies on andro. Doctors