FIRST ADD IS IN, WITH A QUESTION … & YES-NO-YES-NO: Why the CITY OF PITTSFIELD IS KEEPING BUSINESS AWAY, plus, PART 2 of “STEROID USE AND ABUSE BY POLICE OFFICERS,” as our CONTINUING COVERAGE of STEROIDsGATE ADVANCES
BY DAN VALENTI
FIRST ADD, APRIL 11, LATER THAN EXPECTED
A Quick Question for Our Readers
The Planet has been experimenting with a “1-Star,” or our Early Edition, posted for the next day the night before. Is that something you want to see? We think (though not entirely decided) that we can accommodate such a schedule and pace.
Please respond with your thoughts on this. The more information we have, the better our decision will be. In fact, we just shared that thought with a dear friend today: Bad choices only occur because we can’t know everything. In short, if we were omniscient (waiting for the smart aleck who writes, “You mean you aren’t?”), there would be no need for choice. Think about it.
How the Boring Broadsheet Continues to Fail Its Readers
The Boring Broadsheet, as one of our correspondents noted, has not published one column inch on the extreme physical and emotional (also, psychic and spiritual?) damage caused in the human body and mind by heavy and/or long-term use of anabolic steroids.
Once more, The Planet has led the way. Watch how the BB will run a tame version of this at some point and pretend it’s invented the wheel. The Planet’s readers will know better, of course. That’s why they are at this address.
And here is the BB, sitting on a gigantic story, of which we have reason to believe only a tiny portion has come out, and it’s playing See-Speak-Hear No Evil, the three monkeys of disengagement. Incidentally, we had hoped to get information from inside the BB on revenues, specifically, how small a % of its money is derived from dropping circulation (no much) and how much from ad revenues (most). Our source backed off. Apparently, the heat got too much, and he/she deferred. We will not give up, not that it’s a vital number, but it’s an informative one, for it shows the Eagle will do anything to hold on to advertisers, who, we hear, are dictating terms. Glad The Planet doesn’t have to deal with that sort of BS.
We will publish a 1-Star later tonight that MAY have more breaking news about SteroidsGate. Again, we are being cautious with our information, because that is our training and instinct. As best we can, we want to verify information. Stay tuned.
Wah! Wah! What’s in a Name, Baby?
And did you notice how much of the Sunday paper the BB killed yesterday with that phenomenally boring story on … DRUM ROLL PLEASE!! … children’s first names.
We kid you not: It had to be 80% of PAGE ONE. Let The Planet educate you on this. A newspaper will sometimes run an “evergreen” — named so because it can run anytime, in other words, makes no difference when or even IF it is published — to cover for a slow news day. Here, with SteroidsGate, industrial toxins, and so many other huge stories, it is only a “slow news day” if the paper is incompetent or it’s staff is lazy. In the newsroom, the BB staff is NOT lazy. They are juggling too many fluff balls as it is, what The Planet calls The Muzzle.
Babies First Names! And to think of the proud lineage of what was once THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE.
Deja Vue All Over Again
Oh yeah, one more thing. Did you take a look (that’s all we did; we didn’t read one article) in what the BB ran today? Fluff, durned fluff, and more durned fluff. The paper is wafer thin to begin with, and the management has just increased the font size, further shrinking the “news hole,” but when the paper consistently runs the kind of vomit-inducing drivel that’s in today’s rage, it defies belief.
Ruth Bass, one of the assets, has been buried in the B-section, entombed on a page few will go to, in favor of a young woman (a little of the ageist thing going on, of the type you see with TV news after women get past a certain age) who writes about her astonishingly uninteresting life.
There’s watching grass grow, gazing as the paint dries, and gandering at the BB.
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, April 11, 2011) — Today, we present part two of “Anabolic Steroid Use and Abuse by Police Officers” by Commander Kim Humphrey of the Arizona Police Department et. al. The “et al” includes five MDs. This article was first published in the June 2008 issue of Police Chief magazine.
But first, we point out two recent events that illustrate well the indecisive, rudderless actions that define much of public policy in the city of Pittsfield. It’s a town that can’t get out of the way of itself, a condition, amazingly, that is sometimes a deliberate, strategic choice.
* CASE IN POINT 1, PEDA INCUBATOR
Last year, the PEDA board decided to build an incubator building in an attempt to lure business on what is still polluted land. In February, the board reversed itself, saying that on a cost-benefit basis, it didn’t make sense. Guess what? It’s reversed itself again, and the PEDA board will be taking a stab at “free” money the state intends to award ($25 million to qualifying projects; that “free” money is being supplied by us, the taxpayers!).
Is anybody there minding the store? Is this the right time to be making a decision, when Corydon Thurston is still in PEDA diapers? The Planet had discussions with several big shots in the business community, and they had an interesting take on the action. They seem to think it’s the PEDA board smacking Thurston down before he gets his first change. This wasn’t his decision. He’s stuck with it, even though just a couple months ago, the board said it was a bad decision. This is an ill omen for Thurston, and could be used as evidence that the board, in taking him, wants someone who will “play ball” and not rock the boat.
PEDA controls millions in GE money. It operates with great secrecy. Its books are not transparent. That’s not a good combination. The Planet doesn’t make accusations here, but that’s not a good combination.
* CASE IN POINT #2 — MOSQUITO CONTROL
Only in Pittsfield. Seems if we used a little common sense, each of us as individuals could take simple steps to deal with this attendant to summer. Mosquitos are annoying. In R-A-R-E cases they can spread disease, but let’s use common sense. We live in the Berkshires, Northern Hemisphere, and not in equatorial French New Guinea.
Nonetheless, the city council talked Mayor Jimmy Ruberto into committing almost $700,000 over five years to mosquitos. Last year, the first year of the city’s participation in the program, was a disaster. The council reversed itself recently, and now the city is out (though it’s not certain its off the hook for the money). So, in the course of one year, Pittsfield said no-yes-no on a matter that involved nearly $700K at a time when they tell is there is a “budget crisis.”
No wonder other companies are staying away. Add to this dysfunction the industrial toxins GE has spread throughout the city, still in the air, water, and soil, and you’ve got a “BEWARE OF DOG” sign posted at the city limits.
PART TWO OF “Anabolic Steroid Use and Abuse by Police Officers”
By Commander Kim R. Humphrey, Professional Standards Bureau, Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department; Kathleen P. Decker, M.D., U.S. Air Force; Linn Goldberg, M.D., Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon; Harrison G. Pope Jr., M.D., Harvard Medical School; Joseph Gutman, M.D., Practicing Endocrinologist, Tempe, Arizona; and Gary Green, M.D., University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
General Medical Effects of Use
Anabolic steroids can cause temporary or permanent medical problems. Some known medical problems associated with AAS use follow:
- Decreased sperm production
- Abscess at the site of injection
- Increased or even severe acne
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased “bad” (LDL) and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol, with attendant increased risk of heart attack
- Thickening of the wall of the heart (especially in the left ventricle)
- Increased or decreased sex drive (libido)
- Increased appetite
- Liver disease, especially with AASs taken orally (infrequent)
- Death from several causes, including suicide, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries leading to heart attacks or strokes), and cardiac complications
- HIV and similar risk issues associated with the sharing of needles or the use of nonsterile needles
Researchers still do not know a great deal about the long-term dangers of AAS use in individuals, but the evidence of potential dangers has been steadily increasing with new scientific publications in recent years. For example, one study of older champion power lifters (most or all of whom had likely used AASs) found that their death rate was almost five times as great as that of a comparison group of men of the same age in the general population. The reasons for death in the older power lifters included both medical problems such as heart disease and psychiatric problems such as suicide.5
Users of AASs can experience psychiatric symptoms during use, abuse, or withdrawal. Symptoms differ depending on the drug’s absence or presence in the body. Symptoms tend to correlate with the size of the weekly dose and can worsen with long-term use. Importantly, the psychiatric symptoms are idiosyncratic; some men taking a given dose of AASs may show no psychiatric effects at all, whereas a few men taking an identical dose might show extreme effects.6 The reasons for this variability are not known, but it is clear that reactions to AASs cannot be predicted on the basis of an individual’s baseline personality. In other words, even if a man has a mildmannered, gentle personality when not taking AASs, there is still a risk that he might develop a sudden personality change and become uncharacteristically aggressive and violent while taking AASs.7
Symptoms Associated with Use or Abuse:
- Mania or hypomania (high energy levels associated with increased self-confidence, increased activity, impaired judgment, and reckless behavior)
- Psychosis—loss of touch with reality (for example, paranoia or delusions of grandeur; infrequent)
- Personality changes
Symptoms Associated with Withdrawal:
- Long-term AAS abusers can develop symptoms of dependence and withdrawal on discontinuation.
- Withdrawal sometimes leads to severe depression and thoughts of suicide, in addition to medical effects, especially in individuals who have taken AASs for months or years.
Laws and Regulations Associated with AASs
The use of AASs for performance enhancement is banned by all major sports bodies, including the International Olympic Committee, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the Union of European Football Associations, and Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
In the late 1980s, the U.S. Congress considered listing AASs in the Controlled Substances Act. Based on evidence of widespread abuse, AASs are now classified by the FDA and DEA as Schedule III controlled substances. The Crime Control Act of 1990, approved on November 29, 1990, includes provisions for control of these drugs and penalties for inappropriate trafficking in them. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 further amended this law to increase the number of AASs that were included and make it easier to add additional drugs. A Schedule III substance is defined as follows:
- The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse that is less than the drugs or other substances in Schedules I and II.
- The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
- Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
Schedule III drugs are available only by prescription, although control of wholesale distribution is somewhat less stringent than that of Schedule II drugs. Prescriptions for Schedule III drugs may be refilled up to five times within a six-month period.
The Controlled Substances Act defines AASs as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone other than estrogens, progestins, and corticosteroids.8 This means that federal and most state laws dictate that the sale of steroids, possession of steroids, and possession of steroids with intent to sell are all classified as felonies. Any individual who is convicted of the sale of steroids or possesses steroids unlawfully with intent to sell may under federal law be penalized by up to five years in prison. That same individual may face more than five years of punishment depending on the applicable state law. Almost every state has sanctioned various laws placing AASs in the controlled-substance category, in addition to the federal law.
Due to users’ sharing and redistribution habits, one can easily be charged with possession with the intent to sell or deliver AASs based simply on the quantity involved. Physicians dispensing such substances without an appropriate medical diagnosis, a treatment plan, or indications are subject to criminal penalties as well as disciplinary action by the appropriate medical licensing board, including the possible loss of their license.
In addition to the illegal use of these substances, in the last decade a significant number of cases involved counterfeit AAS preparations. These preparations can be simply useless (such as vegetable oil), or they can be dangerous if they are used for injection and turn out to be not sterile.
Negligent Retention: Agencies have a duty and a right to maintain fit officers and to protect the public from impaired officers. They must exercise reasonable means at their disposal to ensure that officers are fit. Both national and local standards regarding the use of AASs support the idea that officers abusing such substances could be at risk for impairment and could even be involved in criminal activity related to the use of these substances.
Employees’ Rights: National Treasury Employees v. Von Raab is a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case in which employees carrying firearms were required to submit to drug testing.9 The Court approved the testing program due to the extraordinary hazards of drug use in these officers. No specific guidelines for testing were put forth, but purely random testing is constitutional according to various courts. However, in the mid-1980s the Boston Police Department adopted a random drug-testing program that was struck down in 1991 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.10 Therefore, the acceptability of random drug testing is highly variable in different jurisdictions and likely depends on union and/or employment contracts.
Detection: To act against an officer, an agency must have reasonable suspicion that the officer is abusing substances or must have an agency-wide random drug-testing schedule. Agencies may not single out an officer for “random” drug testing in the absence of information to suggest use, dealing, and/or impairment.
Testing: Virtually all testing for AASs is on urine specimens. Courts have accepted gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) urine test results. Levels of most AASs in the blood are generally too low to be easily tested. Detection of AASs in hair samples appears possible but is still in an experimental stage of development.
Collection: Although most of the focus of drug testing is on sample analysis, proper collection and chain-of-custody procedures are also of paramount importance. It does not make sense to employ high-quality, expensive laboratories to analyze samples that have been improperly collected. In drug testing appeal cases, the first challenge is usually to the collection process. Collection procedures should be thorough enough to withstand legal scrutiny and accurate enough to ensure that drug-using officers are properly identified.
Determination of Legitimate Use: If an individual is found using an illicit substance and cannot provide evidence of a legitimate prescription for a medically necessary condition, a fitness-for-duty evaluation is likely needed to ascertain whether the officer is using or abusing the substance in such a way as to jeopardize public safety. The most likely legitimate uses in which a working officer might be prescribed AASs would be for treating hypogonadism. The standard treatment of hypogonadism is the use of a testosterone patch or gel, both of which are highly unlikely to be abused. Injectable and sometimes oral preparations are the common choices of AAS abusers.
Research suggests that individuals taking AASs in excess of 100–200 mg of testosterone per week are outside the bounds of therapeutic use. Upon reaching a dose of 300 mg of testosterone per week, they are somewhat more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors, which start to take place more frequently.11 Determining the amount taken may be difficult; therefore, it might be necessary to establish a policy that disallows any level of use above therapeutic levels, since it would be difficult to predict aggressive, inappropriate behaviors.
The following key points should be included in policy statements for law enforcement personnel:
- Use of illegal substances or improperly prescribed controlled substances represents both legal and disciplinary issues for officers and can pose threats to the officer and public safety.
- If the agency has reasonable cause to suspect illegitimate drug use, it may require substance use testing, including but not limited to random urinalysis (for alcohol and drugs), blood work for a toxicology panel, and/or hair analysis.
- Where feasible, supervisors should consult with internal affairs/professional standards and/or the appropriate personnel department before acting on a suspicion of abuse of anabolic steroids.
- Employees found to be using illegal substances will be immediately placed on administrative leave (if not already on such leave) pending further investigation and/or an independent medical review or fitness-for-duty evaluation, and they will hand in their weapons.
- Employees found to have controlled substances that are not illegal but can impair performance, such as (but not limited to) opiate analgesics, controlled substances used as sleep aids or muscle relaxants, or anabolic steroids, may be required to submit to an independent medical review or fitness-for-duty evaluation by the appropriate medical specialist (whether an internist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, or psychiatrist, or a combination thereof) to ascertain whether these officers are using such substances appropriately and/or whether their use of such substances is impairing performance.
- If an employee is found to be possibly illegally using controlled substances and/or medications prescribed by a health-care provider, the agency shall report the case (representing potential illegal activity) to an outside agency for investigation of the officer (by a federal or separate state agency) for misconduct, wherever possible. The agency must also follow the required federal and state reporting procedures for legal proceedings against the health-care professional and the officer, if appropriate.
- WE SHALL BE BACK WITH OUR FIRST ADD SOMETIME LATER. MEANWHILE, “OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE!” LOVE TO ALL.