The League

Dr. A. Brion Gardner
Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. A. Brion Gardner

Staff Orthopedic Surgeon at Camp LeJeune

Protect Your Temple


The simple answer to this question is a loud and resounding "YES"! Professional football players should be aware of every thing that is involved in their physical health and conditioning. The players rely on a host of assistants, trainers, and doctors to optimize their physical performance. However, the ultimate responsibility is on the player to comply with the rules and regulations of the NFL.

The NFL and NFLPA have published a policy that states, "You and you alone are responsible what goes into your body". The NFL also has a published list of specifically banned substances and companies which players are banned from endorsing because they manufacture products that are on the banned substance list.

Many nutritional supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is therefore impossible to monitor whether over-the-counter supplements contain exactly what is on the label, contain banned substances, or actually have healthy or harmful ingredients. Taking these products is at the risk of the player.

Unfortunately, some players knowingly take substances that are banned. They do this at the risk of being caught, fined, and suspended by the league. There are also sever health risks associated with banned substances. They try to conceal their consumption of the banned substances by taking other substances that will provide falsely negative test results. Some of these substances are diuretics (water pills) or masking agents(an acceptable substance which can be taken to make the test appear negative).

The most common type of drug test is a urine test. It is easy to collect and easy to process. It is universally accepted as the best screening test. No test is 100% accurate, however. The urine test depends upon the pH (acidity), temperature, concentration, and presence of electrolytes and byproducts of chemicals among other things to determine positive or negative tests. There is a cutoff for each individual type of substance that makes the test positive or negative. Water pills make the urine more dilute (have more water) and falsely decrease the concentration of certain elements of the urine. A masking agent may do the same thing by falsely increasing the amount of one element in the urine and incorrectly lowering the concentration of another. Many diuretics and masking agents are themselves banned by the league.

Unfortunately, there are some NFL players that will ignore these published and well emphasized rules. They subject themselves to the tremendous health risks including liver and kidney failure. They also jeopardize their future in the league. Ultimately, the professional athlete should treat their body as if it were their temple and be diligent and meticulous about what they consume. Even the player who is not trying to cheat should take caution when consuming over the counter products, because the league has warned that many over the counter products are on the banned list.

By Dr. A. Brion Gardner  |  December 4, 2008; 8:20 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , Steroids Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I agree with all of this.Moving forward as money is weighted towards supporting a "brave
new world" society needs to have a dialogue
with our young people. See steroid posts on

Posted by: Dr. Ben Pearl | December 6, 2008 8:03 AM

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