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All-America Football Player Admits Using Steroids Months Ago

December 27, 1986

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ All-America linebacker Brian Bosworth says he’ll continue to crusade against drug abuse even though he’s been banned from playing in the Orange Bowl for taking a body-building medication.

The Oklahoma Sooner star said he had a doctor’s prescription to use steroids to aid in recovery from football injuries, and last used them nine months ago.

Bosworth, wearing his trademark punk haircut dyed in red and black arches over his ears, said Friday he saw no contradiction between his use of steroids and his public campaign against illicit drug use.

″Steroids are a legal drug,″ said Bosworth, who finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy as top collegiate football player. ″I’ll continue to fight against the abuse of drugs - recreational drugs that are destroying society. Steroids aren’t destroying society.″

Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of male hormone used by athletes to build muscle and bulk. They also are prescribed in cases of anemia, bone disease and in some cases to aid in recovery from muscle ailments.

Steroids, which can have harmful side effects, were banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in January in rules that set up drug tests for all starters and other selected players in college football bowl games.

Bosworth’s test showed traces of steroids, and the NCAA banned him from playing for the third-ranked Sooners in the Jan. 1 bowl against Arkansas.

″The problem is I took an oil-based steroid that stays in your system 10 to 11 months,″ Bosworth told a news conference. ″I didn’t know that at that time, and that’s my fault.″

But he also blamed the NCAA for instituting the ban without a grace period to allow for any trace of the drug to dissipate.

″That’s not fair to an athlete,″ Bosworth said. ″When I took that steroid, I didn’t have the knowledge that we were going to be tested.″

Two of Bosworth’s teammates, Gary Bennett and David Shoemaker, and Arkansas University player David Dudley also were declared ineligible by the NCAA because of positive tests for the drug. Stanford University player John Zentner will miss Saturday’s Gator Bowl for the same reason.

Traces of steroids also led to the disqualification of the second-place finisher in this year’s New York City Marathon. Antoni Niemczak said he had taken a medication to relieve pain and stop bleeding after a tooth extraction in Poland the previous month.

Bosworth said Friday he took nandrolone from early January to mid-March for shoulder and thigh injuries. His progress was monitored weekly, and he was taken off the drug when his body was fit again, he said.

He said no steroids showed up when he took a school-administered test in September. He said the steroids may have been detected this month because he gave his urine sample while dehydrated with a virus.

Bosworth said he had talked with his attorney about the possibility of seeking an injunction to play in the Orange Bowl, but doubts he will go through with it. He said he hasn’t practiced since November because of the virus, which left him bedridden for a week earlier this month.

″I’m not ready to play football anyway,″ he said.

Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer told the news conference he is all for drug testing, but sympathizes with Bosworth.

″We don’t support any athletes taking any sort of drugs,″ Switzer said. ″But he had a prescription to help him recover from an injury. He thinks that steroid helped.″

Switzer stressed that Bosworth was under the care of a private doctor, not a team physician. Bosworth refused to name the doctor.

″I apologize to the Orange Bowl and I apologize to my teammates,″ Bosworth said. ″The Orange Bowl is a reward for them, and this forces attention on me instead of on them.″

Bosworth, a junior, could make himself eligible for the National Football League draft this spring, but he said he hasn’t made up his mind.

″I would miss the excitement of college football, but I’m starting to get fed up with the NCAA’s dictatorship attitude,″ he said.

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