Session: connection failed

Human Potential, Steroids and CrossFit by Dave Tate - CrossFit Journal

In Powerlifting, Videos

July 27, 2009

Video Article

Sevan Matossian asked the questions. Tony Budding held the microphone. And Dave Tate from EliteFTS gave answers that were profane, provocative and very politically incorrect on topics ranging from athletes who burn out in junior high to the use of anabolic steroids in professional sports.

Dave said that high level athletes are locked into a vision and driven by passion. They don’t care what critics think and are always looking for a performance edge. Drugs are part of most sports. Those who get caught are labelled bad people, but the reality is that many of their rivals are also using drugs but just don’t get caught.

Dave said he is neither pro nor con on the use of anabolic steroids. Steroids can move your performance up a notch, but can’t improve your performance by two levels. Steroids are an ace card that can be used only once. It’s one thing for an NFL player to flip the card several years into his career, so he can play five more years and earn another $10-15 million. But it’s deplorable that high school kids who just want big biceps are buying up “the good stuff” and making it harder to find for athletes who really need it.

As far as anabolics and Crossfit goes, Dave said he wouldn’t know what to recommend because CrossFit is so diverse.

Dave was a successful competitive powerlifter for over two decades. He trained with Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell Club. His best back squat was 930lbs, bench 610lbs, and deadlift 740lbs. Tate is a powerlifting specialist, and he doesn’t claim to be anything else.

11min 31sec

Free Download


87 Comments on “Human Potential, Steroids and CrossFit ”


wrote …

those blasted unpatriotic high schools kids!


wrote …

Sorry, but this isn't my vision of what CrossFit stands for. Maybe my head is in the sand (or worse), but cheating is cheating. Just because "everyone is doing it" doesn't make it ok. Further, I would like to think that there might be a reason for a CrossFitter to stay clean besides not knowing "which drug to take". Maybe something really wild like it might just be better for their health.


wrote …

I love this video. Priceless insight into the world of steroids.


wrote …

i thought he had some good stuff. i like how he went back and said just work on your technique before resorting to such things. but seems like people who would take drugs are just afraid to fail.


"Isn't my vision of what CrossFit stands for" What an egotistical statement. It's not your vision to have. It's for you to ride the wave or bail, nothing more. Reality is what it is. People will cheat and get caught, people will cheat and not get caught. Everyone has cheated in some way or another to get ahead. Your moral high-ground may be nothing more than a molehill for others to squash under their heel.
The truth is that steroids for men is a widely used and healthy alternative that is prescribed to some men as an alternative to decreased bone density, decreased sex drive, muscle wasting after men hit their menopause. Women take Estrogen which is a hormone specific to their physiology. Nothing wrong with that is there.
The problem lies with the "High and Mightys" hand wringers and finger wagers who say; "why, you are a cheat". You’re a cheater if you do that. Like Dave Tate I am neither for nor against hormone therapy for athletes, but I do suspect that his teeter-totter does sway a little more for it.
It's not your vision, it's our wave to ride, right, left, center. Give the stone casting a break.


replied to comment from David Zink

It's not as easy as that. Take for example a soldier in active combat missions who is a Crossfitter and it turns out that he could improve his overall fitness by taking...(insert drug here), which would improve his chances of survival in combat. At that point I wouldn't blame him (or her?) for cheating.

But for me, the civilian, this was a useless video that adds nothing to my training.


wrote …

This laissez faire attitude is the reason our sports world and society is in a situation of justifying and accepting corrupt behavior. If Cross Fit is going to allow this kind of bs to fill its' ranks, then please be honest. That way those of us who've had enough of this crap in other sports and venues can move in a more sane direction.
I have been a high school football and baseball coach and a college baseball coach. This attitude is permeating it's way into all avenues of sports and it is ruining the culture.
I thought Cross Fit had the kahuna's to stand up against this nonsense. If not, then count me out.


replied to comment from Frank Severa

Ok you are counted out, take it or leave it, but I don't think that CrossFit is saying anything for or against. Don't get yourself all flustered and worked up buddy. Be at at peace..breath in and breath out. It's just a conversation. Conversations in the candid sense are the best kind. A question was posed and it was answered in the afore mentioned way, nothing more.


wrote …

Human Potential = Hard work, dedication, discipline, drive, positive attitude, and the list goes on. DOING IT DRUG FREE!!!

Doing it with the help of steroids is cheating. To me I feel, you're not dead lifting 600lbs and back squating 800lbs because you're strong, the drug is doing the lifting. It's moving the load from Point A to B, back to A, not the person. The drug is doing the work, not you! Does that make sense???

For example, me competing in the CrossFit games. I rather finish dead last drug free, knowing I did this the hard way. As suppose to finishing first with the aide of drugs and calling myself the fittest man in the world. I would be ashamed, you should be ashamed to compete in the games being on steroids.


replied to comment from Brian Thurmond

We are restriced from having visions? Dreams? We can't have our opinions on what CrossFit is and stands for? You don't have to agree with his statement but your response is way off. High and Mighty? Really? Riding the wave or bailing is not how I run my affiliate and having opinions is just that. Your analogy to "hormone therapy" is ridiculous. I believe we are talking about steroid abuse to enhance physical performance. Men who take very low dose therapy for medical reasons is quite different, agreed? And it is only prescribed for blood tests that reveal very low levels (may be considered normal or abnormal...again..opinion)of testosterone. If you need drugs to perform, go for it. If "having a dream" or being passionate justifies it, it's your health. If me...believes in making the most of what was given to me naturally, you certainly have the right to regard abuse as "cheating."


replied to comment from Kyle Hougendobler

So if you have knee surgery and subsequently deadlift 500 pounds it shouldn't count right? Cause modern medicine fixed your knee not you. Just like modern medicine advanced athlete X's performance with steroids. Nothing like this is black and white, where do you draw the line? The Zone diet is a human invention, and it increases human performance. Cryotherapy, so wholly endorsed by K. Starr is a human invention, and it helps with recovery. The supplement industry is enormous, and it improves performance.

Maybe when Gene Therapy comes out steroids will be commonplace? You cannot improve your performance by taking steroids and sitting on your ass, you still have to train (if not harder I imagine) to see results. Personally, I have no real reason to take steroids, but I have no moral high ground over those who choose to do so.


wrote …

For an organization and community so heavily influenced by libertarian doctrine, there's a surprising amount of heavy-handed moralizing and thirst for control over another free human's actions and choices going on here.


wrote …

Talk steroids and everyones panties get in a bunch! Why do we give a rip who does or does not take drugs? As adults we can do whatever we want to. If being clean is paramount to you, then be clean and don't bitch cause others don't play by your rules and take drugs!
Crossfit is talking to Dave Tate about a real life subject and getting an opinion from a source that has a lot of knowledge on the topic, how does this taint crossfit in any way? Has ESPN lost your visions standard when it reports on steroid use in baseball? Tate's opinions are not held by many crossfitters but he was asked a question and he gave an answer thats it,I dont see them slappin Tate on the back saying Hell yeah, no more drug testing before the games and we are gonna drop the zone/paleo for a good dose of growth hormones It's the real world folks! Why can't we have a Q and A about this stuff without questioning the integrity of everyone in the conversation?


wrote …

Taking steroids in Crossfit is like cheating might get a faster time or more weight but in the end you can't consider yourself more fit! The number one rule posted in our gym is "NO EGOS!" If you have to "cheat" to get to your goal then you never really reached it!


wrote …

Jesus he's a funny dude. He's never stated to be a CrossFit guy, it's good that HQ are giving him a chance to talk so we as CrossFitters can realize that our way isn't the ONLY way; it's just happens to be a really f$%king good way.


wrote …

I think Dave presented a genuinely thoughtful and informed opinion on a subject where grandstanding tends to dominate discussion. It's rare to encounter someone with a view of anabolic agents that stems both from experience and insight. At the very least, his opinion ought to be valued as an important voice speaking on a difficult topic.


wrote …

Is it cheating because the federal government deems it illegal?

Because then where does that put HGH, pro-hormones or EPD's that are legally available but banned by some orgs but not others?

Who's standards are we using when we throw the "cheating" word around?

I'm not advocating the use of EPD's and/or anabolics, but the conversation that surrounds them seems more blindly passionate than logic-based.


replied to comment from Daniel Thacker

Yes, High and Mighty, really. Run your afflitate as you see fit my friend, steroid free or running rampant within it's confines.
I do think that you said it might be better for your health if you do not take steroids. I was simply pointing out where your argument suffered greatly. Don't take it personnal. Please for the love of sweet mother Mary don't take yourself so seriously.


wrote …

I think I understand the point about getting one shot at flipping the Ace card to take it up a notch even though I have never done drugs. It think this concept is also true for what I call "legal performance enhancers".

Lets consider one group of athletes taking gatorade/caffeine/painkillers while training and second group not taking these legal performance enhancers. It is very likely that first group will perform better than second group initially but second group will get better overall adaptation since they have to push harder to match first group. Now both groups compete in the games (or in a life-or-death situation), I am sure the second group can easily beat first group IF THEY TAKE gatorade/caffeine/painkillers. Alternatively, if both groups compete where neither group does has access to gatorade/caffeine/painkillers, second group will still beat them. Either way its a fair outcome. Does that make sense?

I used to be a long distance runner and I would NEVER take gatorade or caffeine on my training runs but would freely take them in half/full marathons toward finish when I needed a boost...guilt free. I would suck at hard training runs but I would always finish strong in races, often with negative splits.


wrote …

Steroids have never been proven to be harmful. Evidence of "roid rage," cardiac arrest, etc. is anecdotal, not statistical. Whether it's cheating or not, that's a separate issue.


wrote …

Even if one feels that using drugs equals cheating, the distinction between steroids and other forms of medical interventions seems somewhat arbitrary. Baseball players get laser eye surgery to see the ball better, football players get cortisone shots to keep playing with injuries, are those things really so different from steroids/HGH/etc.? I thought this was an interesting point of view on a complicated issue.


wrote …

I don't see what the big deal is. Sevan asks, Dave answers. Would have been more useful had he asked something training related - I really couldn't care less how high school athletes cycle steroids. Call it passion or obsession, it just doesn't have any pertinence to my life.

I don't think people should be so shocked though - yes, there are actually people using steroids, and no, they don't have horns and carry a pitchfork around. The Games tested for steroids ==> performance enhancements are discouraged in this community, so lets not cry over how Crossfit is going down the drain.

I think it's healthy for Crossfitters to see training that happens in other communities, even if we'll never adapt their methods, but like I said, it would have been more useful had it been about actual training tips, as opposed to comments along the lines of:

"Well, you could cut off your leg and put in an artificial limb that will make you faster in the 100m dash...but, as far as I know, this is an ace you can only pull twice in your life!"


replied to comment from Latham Fell

Wow dude, at least try and Google before you say something so stupid: That was on the first try. Plenty more out there.

Hey if you want to use them go for it. Its your body you will end up damaging, not mine. Is that what people really feel their life is good for? 5-10 years of good athleticism, because guess what, nobody gives a shit later on in life what ANYONE who had to use steroids did. You get a big fat *.


replied to comment from Dimitri Dziabenko

Actually Dimitri, The U.S. Air Force has been using amphetamines for a while.
"In a news conference held in connection with Schmidt and Umbach's Article 32 hearing, Dr. Pete Demitry, an Air Force physician and a pilot, claimed that the 'Air Force has used (Dexedrine) safely for 60 years' with 'no known speed-related mishaps.'"

I got wind of this by watching "Bigger, Faster, Stronger." It was a fairly informative movie with regards to steroids. Check out the trailer here (and minute 1:30 for the Air Force):


wrote …

Steroid's are obviously a part of sports. Crossfit is great because when all is said and done, you are competing against yourself. If someone takes a substance to enhance their Fran time or DL max, they know deep down that they didn't get those numbers naturally. I'm fine with that, it doesn't effect me at all, my numbers are based on my fitness level, what I eat, how much I rest and so on, it doesn't have anything to do with what someone else does.

Dave Tate is awesome, this was a great conversation. I'm going to start using lines on my clients like he did with that kid to get them confident. The best part about this was that if you are passionate about something, if you work your ass off, you will get it.

Worry about YOUR training, what you put in YOUR body, and achieving YOUR goals and save your opinions on steroids for people who actually care.


replied to comment from Benjamin Moskowitz

Yeah, I watched the movie in the movie theatre as it was opening up and the director (forget his name) was actually there to answer any questions. I didn't really have any, since I don't really have an interest either for, or against steroids.

I don't want to take them, since there could be serious health consequences. I understand though why pilots would need them, or why a combat soldier would be interested in it. By extension, if an athlete feels their life is on the brink of collapse (either you make it big, or not at all), I can also see why they'd take it. I can also see why teenage boys with underlying insecurities would take them, and finally, the least related, I can see why kids would take ritalin/aderol to do better on the SATs.

All I can say is, if you are in a position of such high stress that your "survival" (emotional/financial) depends on taking drugs, that really sucks.

Please post the video on glute-ham raises/assistance exercises/the bench. I am sure there must have been something about that in the seminar.


wrote …

Just like a lot of things on here, this is just up to present and facilitate a discussion. People have opinions on things and that can lead to improved methods, instruction, ideas, etc.

With that said, my opinion is kind of simple. Anabolic steroids are illegal. You shouldn't use them (outside of a medical prescription). End of discussion.

My only question in regards to steroids and crossfit is how many blocks does a steroid have according to the zone plan? Just kidding. But, in a nutritional guideline that asks for things like organic meat (paleo), nuts, fish, vegetables, etc. How do steroids fit? How can people rationalize the use of roids when the protocol calls for healthy nutrition?

One thing Crossfit seeks is "super wellness." Do steroids promote wellness or just strength? Are your 10 components of fitness being improved or are people becoming fringe athletes?


replied to comment from Brian Thurmond

Hey, if it is egotistical to have an opinion on what CrossFit is or stands for then call me an ego tripping, pull-up kipping bastard. And thanks for giving me the choice of either bailing or "riding the wave" but I would rather stand up for what I believe in and speak my mind as a member of the CrossFit community.

But most of all, thanks for providing a new quote for the side of our affiliate pukie bucket: "Reality is what it is. People will cheat and get caught, people will cheat and not get caught. Everyone has cheated in some way or another to get ahead".


replied to comment from Bjorn Bellenbaum

If steroids are in fact deleterious to an athlete's health, then it makes sense to ban them in order to keep the sport open to those who do not want to hurt themselves to compete - that is, the anti doping rules are implemented to keep the sense of fairness in the sport, to keep the sport such that it can attract an audience, that the sport can seem admirable, that we can find the best qualities of human achievement in the sport - IOW, so the sport can be entertaining and inspiring. Unless it is entertaining and inspiring is there really any point to sport? The degree to which sport entertains and inspires is the degree to which a population will give that sport their time.

Would the energy in some of the ‘anti cheating’ comments above make any sense if roids were not harmful? If you parse all the comments above you see 'drugs are dangerous, and using them is cheating' or 'drugs are not necessarily known to be dangerous and there are plenty of athletes who take them and are doing fine, what’s the big deal'.

To me it seems intuitive that there would be a cost associated with using abnormal amounts of substances that stimulate abnormal human growth. But I don't know if it is 'known' just what the risks are. Therefore, how can folks make a cost/benefit trade off analysis? How much risk is there of how much potential injury? I don’t think the govt knows this – the govt can’t even figure out how people should eat for health.

I like Dave Tate's ability to present a complicated topic in relatively simple terms. He's not articulate, but he's so clear about what he thinks that the message comes across. He's also so well grounded in what he believes that BS is minimized. I like it when I see people like this find success and I think it's awesome that Coach has brought Dave's expertise in for us to utilize.


wrote …

I can go on google and find two answers to anything. I can find how awesome Cross Fit is or how some just hate it. Same with steroids. Or anything for that matter. Talk to some people who do steroids. Not as bad for you as you might think. Just with anything the news throws at the population. Take it with a grain of salt. If you want to believe everything that CNN, NBC says then you cant be helped. Alcohol and cigarettes account for more deaths then steroids every will in one year. Yet no one ever talks about banning them. I don't take steroids but I hate the tunnel vision believe system.


wrote …

Best line was the last line: Strength development has a positive effect on all metrics of fitness, save for flexibility. Buy stock in Rutherford's MEBB or Jeff Martin's Strength Bias. They're about to go through the roof.


wrote …

I don't have a comment on the material in video, but I would just like to address the audio in the some of the videos I've seen in the Crossfit Journal. I've been working as an audio engineer for quite some time and the audio in these videos is driving me crazy! Would it be possible to find the audio from the best source and just use that for the whole video, even when cutting between different cameras? I might be a little bit weird but it distracts me and drives me mad.

rock on


wrote …

Did I misunderstand, or did Tate contradict himself at the end of the video during the discussion about what to take to help performance in the CF Games? I sounded like he inferred if you took something to improve a strength void it would degrade your endurance...then at the end stated that max strength work would probably only degrade flexibility. Probably both? That's my opinion - unless with the drug you could still spend the necessary time in all (or no specific) domain while increasing max strength - quicker strength gains with drugs?
Regardless, my goals and values are mine, and you are free to choose. Great time-line analogy on 'flipping the card'. Well said and speaks to the motivations behind drug use and consequences especially in young athletes. As a coach to young athletes, that's a heart-breaker and registers as a personal failure (mine) on their behalf. You'll never know what your potential is until you've lived a little, sought advice, made adjustments, and re-evaluated...everything - a few dozen times.


wrote …

One of the best and most interesting interviews/pieces i've watched in the journal so far.

Great stuff guys, thanks for this.


replied to comment from George Mounce

Thanks for the personal attacks, George. I will now demonstrate that I too can use Google.,0,2159614.story

This article in the Tribune is on Dr. Norman Frost, who points out that:

1. No deaths have been linked to steroid use.
2. Side effects of steroids are cosmetic and reversible.
3. Steroid use has been shown to negatively affect cholesterol levels, but no direct link to heart disease has been demonstrated.


replied to comment from David Zink

Now you are just being plain silly DZ. You don't have an affiliate pukie bucket that you put quotes on. You may go out and get one very soon because that is the way your pre pubescent adolescent mind seems to work. Notice I said "seems to work". I know that your feathers are all ruffled over this sore subject and I ruffled you a little more, but don't fret, I don't believe that you have the mind of a second time around fifth grader all the time, just when you lack the proper skills to get your point across in an intelligent manner and you are unable to re-enforce your argument so you get a little frustrated and resort to childish antics. I noticed that you liked my wave analogy. That's good you can use it if you like, anytime. Here is a quote for you,"A man's got to know his limitations" -Harry Callahan(A.K.A. Dirty Harry) Magnum Force 1973
Pukie Bucket with quotes, absurd you ego tripping, pull-up kipping bastard.


wrote …

A hugely entertaining talk. I have a view on drug taking - I don't and hope my kids won't. If others want to, fine, unless they want to compete in games. A game is what it is because of its rules. Adhere to the rules or don't play.


replied to comment from Samuel Clemens

Thank you but you were "simply pointing out where my argument greatly suffered?" At what point did you do that? Sorry, just missed it.


wrote …

steriod use is a personal choice....if the people who got all twisted up after watching this video are really holding on way to tight.
if an athlete needs to use a PE to win, thats their choice that they have reasoned within themselves that they need this extra boost to win....

Also to use the 'cheating' term, it's not 'cheating' until you are caught.....

Everyone know dave tells it like it is, very straight up, so there's no point getting all bitter and twisted after knowing this about Dave, then downloading this video and whinging like a little bitch saying this shouldn't be a posted video on here, blah blah blah.


wrote …

"Are you gonna be a f-ing Patriot or what?!"



wrote …

i thought the vid was a good look into the steroid world. tate's been around the stuff and i think that theres alot i/we can learn from him. neither he nor his information appears to be polished or prep'd and i dont have to like the guy (or agree with his views)in order to accept his information. its streel level intel about steroids, i will log it in my mind and mv foward.

the man DOES appear to contribute significantly to the CrossFit community. i accept him and his views for what they are, but I cannot accept them as being 100% accurate until i get more info. keep the information coming!


wrote …

I love this guy.


wrote …

Keep Tate around. He's an asset.


wrote …

I love listening to Travis Bagent, I don't want to be an arm wrestler. I love listening to Dave Tate, I don't want to be a powerlifter or use steroids. I love the fact that CF provides a forum for guys like this. They are part of the fabric of life, enjoy them as such. Take something from them that contributes to your CF training and leave the rest alone. I don't take Tate's presence here as an endorsement by CF of his views on steroids. But I do appreciate what I have learned about lifting from listening and watching him and that would have never happened if CF hadn't given him a platform.


replied to comment from Daniel Thacker

No worries my friend. I get the feeling that you always just miss it.


wrote …

So some of you think performance inhanceing drugs are cheating. So then is it cheating to inhance performance? And if so wouldn't that mean training is cheating? I know there are "kids" dying using the stuff and I never will use it but then I will never be offered $10 million to throw a ball.


replied to comment from Samuel Clemens

Hey Samuel, Save the "my friend" if you choose to insult me. In stating my opinion I don't think I personally attacked anyone. I was asking you to clarify. I get alot of "feelings" about you as well.


replied to comment from Graeme Marshall

"Also to use the 'cheating' term, it's not 'cheating' until you are caught....."

I disagree. Not so much in the context of PEs, but in the context of integrity. If you KNOW something is against the rules and you choose to do it, you are cheating. Period.

Imagine a medical student who is not caught "cheating" on every exam for an entire semester. By your definition, not a cheater. Do you want that "doctor" in charge of your care?

You either have integrity or you do not.


wrote …

Good morning Everyone,

I watched the video, having perused everyone's comments before I viewed it. This is what I took away from Dave Tate and his answers to the questions asked:

1. Dave Tate has real-life experience and knowledge having been around steroids so many years. He came across as very credible in the field of PEDs.

2. My perception of his slant on the use of steroids was that he was indeed neutral. He seemed to focus more on the development of the athlete and the fact that "genes" play a much larger role into an athelete's inherent abilities when it comes to becoming a professional athlete. His references to early bloomers and late bloomers made total sense as I have seen that happen.

3. Furthermore, his comment about steroids being an "Ace" card that can be used only once was very understandable. I am sure there are athletes that use more than one cycle, but generally if I have to guess, he is right. If you use more than one cycle, you are more likely to get caught. If you use more than one cycle, you are more likely to have the brunt end of the side effects from using steroids. His comments about high school athletes and college athletes and even fringe pro players using were spot on. If they have to use so early, they won't make it anyway. The people who got there on their own that started using in the pros already got there. Does it excuse them for using? No, but they were going to get there anyway.

4. He seemed pissed that high school athletes or people use steroids just to look good. While I can understand that and agree, I would completely disagree that it is okay for Olympic athletes to use them. I don't think he was condoning it, just noting that Olympic athletes will always use and passing it off as that.

5. Main Points

a. genetics play the biggest role in the development of professional athletes
b. if you can't get to the highest level without drugs, you won't make it with drugs.
c. people who use drugs for vanity purposes are a-holes. They are no different than those who go to the gym to do preacher curls. They only care about looks and not human performance.
d. Dave thinks that Crossfit is such a unique model that you can't "game" WODs or the Games, not even by taking PEDs. He wouldn't know what to say to an elite top 10 gamer to help. Let's face it, the Crossfit Games can't be gamed.

All in all, tremendous insight into the mind of someone who could probably look at someone else for 3 seconds and tell you if they were on something and probably what it was.




wrote …

Very interesting video. Anabolics are a huge part of athletics. If you don't believe this is the case you're naive. Crossfit is all about individual competition. It's a pipe dream to believe Crossfit isn't now and won't continue to be affected by anabolics. Have you ever met a passionate Crossfitter?

FYI: It's a state felony in all 50 US states as well as a fed felony to be in possession of a controlled substance.


Jonathan Burns wrote …

It seems to me that comparing anabolics to other technological advances, like speed suits and running surfaces does not compute. Those advances are broadly available and will give every athlete a similar benefit.

Many sports, especially those that rely on equipment, place strict guidelines on specifications of that equipment. Think UCI rules for bicycles,FISA rules for rowing shells, or F1 guidelines. For the most part, these limits are in place to keep equipment costs reasonable, and make participation possible for those teams that can not keep up with heavily-funded teams in regards to R&D.

Tate mentions that the costs of taking PED's are astronomical. If you regard them as simply another technological advancement, then their use should be limited for the same reasons there are minimum bicycle and rowing shell weights: to keep the costs of participation down.

Should PED's be legal if they were widely available and cheap? That is a whole different discussion.


wrote …

I enjoy Dave Tate and his views which may or may not be my views.

It is important to listen to views not your own, whether or not you agree, in fact it might be more important to listen to people who think differently than you.

As well, It might be important to listen and discuss these views in a respectful manner and to that end, some of the gentleman should join us all in re-reading an excellent article, which you may or may not agree with.

The article is called "Crossfitter, Be Nice" and was written by Michael Houghton an ex NFL player who speaks to some of the stridency and tone occasionally found in these discussions.

For those of you who are interested, it can be found in the Crossfit Journal under "Affiliation, Running" and dated April 18, 2009.

Thanks and please keep bringing the Dave Tates and Coach Rippetoes to the Journal, given the number of comments found after their video clips, they seem to be popular.



wrote …

Excellent video and excellent discussion (for the most part). Thanks so much for posting this. Dave Tate reminds me of every great no-BS coach or teacher I have ever met. These were the effective ones.

Regarding the audio, however, I have to second Joe Farnsworth's comment. At least pass the mic amongst the audience during questions and answers. I would love to hear the comments.

Thanks again.


Jesse Gray wrote …

The issue of performance enhancing drugs is among the most controversial in sport. Is it cheating? Is everyone doing it? What I find interesting is that it almost seems to beyond cheating. Lets face it, cheating occurs all the time in sports and especially crossfit. I don't think I've ever seen a "Fran" video on youtube with FROM on every rep so technically, that's cheating but it's not going to inspire pages of comments from crossfitters arguing that the athlete is either a debased human completely lacking in morals or a person who pushes the envelope as far as possible to get a great time and is therefore subject to admiration. Is it the premeditated nature of steroid use? The media buzz around it? The danger (despite what has been said here, steroid abuse is clearly very harmful to some but not all users both physically and mentally). Also, where do we draw the line? Is a full anabolic bad just because it's illegal but an anabolic precursor you can pick up at GNC ok? I think the bottom line for crossfitters is will using these drugs make you a better performing person over an extended time line. The time line I refer to is not the length of a WOD, a weekend of competition at the crossfit games or even a season or seasons as an athlete but for your whole life. If it decreases your lifetime is it worth it? If you develop tendon or ligament injuries that prevent you from being active is it worth it? If you get giant boobs is it worth it? If you have mood swings that hurt someone else or yourself (I had an acquaintance who shot himself while on a cycle)? For some they may not suffer any ill effects and lead long healthy lives made better by chemicals, for others no. Ultimately it is a cost benefit analysis you must make of your own life and decide for yourself.

P.S. Is there a banned substances list for the crossfit games?


wrote …

The topic of steroids has always been of interest to me. I have both asthma and psoriasis. On the surface, they do not seem related however, in both cases I require the use of steroids to combat them. In the case of asthma, I've got my inhaler, and occasionally I get hit by psoriatic arthritis which is sometimes treated with costicosteroid injections.

In both cases, I have noticed advantages and disadvantages with regard to sport. As Kelly Starrett mentionned in a previous video on tissue healing, the steroids do indeed keep me injured longer. My forearms are a constant problem---I boulder a lot which puts a lot of strain on them. The healing process is therefore slowed down and it takes months to heal if I am getting joint injections. Even though localized, I have noticed the difference.

On the flip side though, after joint injections, I do not feel pain. I can push harder than before.

Back to the negative side of things though, I do NOT feel pain. Which seems awesome but also means that since the pain feedback mechanism is lost, I am at risk of further injuring myself.

So I guess my 2 cents are that I feel that the negative surely outweighs the positive on the effects steroids have on the body. I can't stop anyone from taking them, though I can state that I would rather have non-steroidal treatments to what ails me any day.

Thanks for all the great videos and discussions.


wrote …

My friend does not imply that we are friends, my friend it simply a means to address you in a more polite way. Now, with that being said, I have been rude to you and one thing that I try to never do is to be rude to anyone or abide rudeness,but you seem to bring it out of me and I do have a flair for it when called upon.
"I don't think I personally attacked anyone"."Your analogy to "hormone therapy" is ridiculous". -From you
Now is it clearer my friend? The analogy needs no defence because if you reed the origional words from the gentlemans post,my other friend,"I would like to think that there might be a reason for a CrossFitter to stay clean besides not knowing "which drug to take". Maybe something really wild like it might just be better for their health."
So you see, my friend, it's really all just one big misunderstanding. You think that you are right but you like the skills to argue for it and that can be frustrating, I understand. Unless you are a medical Doctor who is actively researching Growth hormones, do not presume to think that everyone whom you spew and vomit your non-sense is as uneducated as you. Do not presume Sir! Regurgitate the filth that you have bumbled your way through in Time or overheard in a daze on talk radio in some other venue. Not here, where a person of a learned, cultivated and refined nature can stand before your non-sense and rebuke it.

I am just kidding with you man, Don't get so uptight. Take a breath and shake it out. Take a knee if you have to. Also, there are some good links further up the page that are pros and cons to the subject. Do your own looking. I am just killing time and having fun seeing you get riled.


wrote …

Yikes. I'm totally stepping into the pool with the sharks for the first time on an obviously emotionally loaded topic, but here goes. As a person, for whatever reason, whether it's because I saw too many after school specials or I'm just ignorant on the topic, the thought of steroid use sends a resounding "no" through my head. As an affiliate owner and someone who has financially committed to Crossfit (as well as physically and mentally) I would think that if we're going to go down this road- which, as far as I'm aware, is a largely illegal one- I want to know about it. I want full disclosure. If the people who are competing in the Games are taking steroids, I want to know who and what, so I can judge for myself if they are truly the fittest person alive or not. Note that I said for myself- not for everyone. I know they did steroid testing at the Games this year, but I'm not aware of anywhere where they've posted the results (if someone knows of this, please let me know). If we're going to throw around terms like the fittest person on the planet, etc. etc., then I would like to know- is that with or without drugs?
One other thought = just because something would benefit you doesn't mean historically that we all condone it and go out and do it. We would literally all benefit from the attention-focusing effects of a stimulant like Ritalin or Adderall were we to be prescribed something, but many people find the idea of taking drugs traditionally used for ADHD when people are considered to be in the normal spectrum of attention to be objectionable...


Cody Limbaugh wrote …

Daniel and Samuel,
This is going to end in sex- isn't it?


replied to comment from Cody Limbaugh

I am hoping so.


wrote …

thank you sevan, you asked a good question and a follow up. thanks to dave for being honest and blunt, thats how i like my answers! and thanks to crossfit HQ for not avoiding the subject .


wrote …

I found Tate's when do you flip the card remarks interesting. Let's say you're a 3rd year pro guard, a 2 year starter. You banged up your knee in week 12 and missed the remainder of the season. You had surgery and are rehabbing. The team just drafted a 2nd team all-America out of Oklahoma, a real big kid. You've got a wife and 2 kids. Are you gonna flip the card?


wrote …

Nothing is ever fair, ever! Cheating is exactly what it sounds like, an unfair advantage. For what it's worth I'm of the opinion that having me play Michael Jordan in a one-on-one basketball game would also be unfair, whether or not he takes steroids. I don't take steroids, but it isn't because of some moral highground that I have chosen to walk, it's because it really isn't that important to me. I am a white collar guy with two kids and a Fran time just over seven minutes and it really never occured to me that if I could get it down around five minutes or even four because I was drinking some very expensive or potentially unsafe magic elixir that my life or my children's lives would be any better. However if it would make my life better, don't count me out just because some jack-ass that was never going to be able to compete on my level anyway points the finger at me. It's not fair and it never will be, get over it!


wrote …

CrossFit's stance on steroids seems pretty clear w/ the introduction of testing in this year's Games.

Dave Tate eventually did seem to answer the question "what performance enhancing substances would most benefit a CrossFitter" - whatever most helps maximal strength development.


wrote …

Lots of questions to be answered... If only there were a way to distinguish between getting your levels to "normal" optimal levels when you're older, or just recovering from an injury faster/better(which, I say anyone should be allowed to do), and injecting 1000% of a normal high level of T.

Also, if you were to do steroids to put on a bunch of strong muscle, then do CrossFit, wouldn't you keep it, or most of it, meaning size and strength? Provided, of course, you don't become a 300lb body builder type or whatever...

Does this not make you more fit by the definition Coach gives?

Will this affect your health, meaning your future fitness, if your liver fails or something?

I know one thing though- young teenagers using roids get what they deserve, that's just stupid.

I wonder how Tate feels about milk...


wrote …

I love someone who tells you how they really feel about a subject, whether or not people like or dislike what he says if of little concern to him.

Please keep the videos coming.



wrote …

Great video! I know ZERO about any kind of "Enhancement Drugs" and plan on keeping it that way. If I plateau, I find a different avenue of approach.


replied to comment from Richard Linnell

I think your summary is right on..


wrote …

Dave Tate is the man. You have to love the way he shoots straight and doesn't sugar coat anything. He is also one of the most knowledgable men in the strength and conditioning game.


wrote …

This is an interesting time in the evolution of Crossfit and it will be fun to follow over the years. In my view, Crossfit is a community dedicated to health and fitness. Performance is important, because it is tied directly to short and long-term health (i.e. the 3D Model of Health and Fitness).

Does the improvement in performance that one gets from using steriods or other illegal substances translate into better health? I don't know for certain, but I suspect that it does not. Crossfitters support eating organic vegetables and free range, grass fed proteins. We cringe at the thought of eating pesticide laced fruits and veggies or having steriods pumped into the beef we eat. Is this only because eating these things is detrimental to our performance, or is it because we seek better health?

Crossfit seems to be at a crossroads. Is Crossfit a Fitness and Training System dedicated to ultimate health? Or, is it a sport? In sport, health is not the goal - it's all about performance. Can Crossfit be both?

I follow Crossfit in an effort to avoid the need for drugs that lower cholesterol or blood pressure. I don't want to be a diabetic and I don't want to be confined to a walker or need Viagra as I age. To me, this is what Crossfit is all about. This is where Crossfit can make it's biggest positive impact on society.

The topic of steroids is an interesting one and I can certainly see how one could be tempted to experiment with them when performance is the goal in itself. For me, performance isn't the end-goal. For me, it's all about fitness as a component of health.


replied to comment from Samuel Clemens

I don't know why a article passes as real research article but here are a few real peer-reviewed research articles which state "premature mortality" and several cardiovascular problems as a risk factor associated with steroid usage.$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed

Steroids are illegal because the can kill you or increase your risk of death. It is that simple.


replied to comment from Steve Breault

Steve -

The steroids that you receive for your asthma (corticosteroids) are in no way related to the anabolic steroids that Dave Tate is speaking about. These steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs.

On the video - I thought it was informative. For those that have not seen it, I advise renting "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" from Netflix. It is a very interesting look at the use of steroids.


replied to comment from Steven Smith

I certainly do understand that the video does deal with anabolic and not corticosteroids. The main point I was trying to get at was more related to the local injections of corticosteroids to my joints, specifically my wrists and elbows. Following these injections, I do gain the advantage/disadvantage of not feeling pain in these areas and find that I can push myself longer/harder than under normal i.e. non-psoriatic-arthritis situations.

Also, I second you on the recommendation of "Bigger, Stronger, Faster". Excellent documentary.


wrote …

Steroids are illegal for athletic performance enhancement as they are used commonly. If you use them you are breaking the law. Like 'em or not, that's the line in the sand. End of story.


wrote …

I definitely agree with Dave on two of his statements; the one being that he is neither for nor against and that you cannot vilify someone for taking the supplement while proclaim another a 'hero' for abstaining.

While I did not play football in Middle school or high school, I did notice as a soccer player what he mentioned about kids burning out earlier than expected. I was smaller and generally less skilled than those around me right off the start. But passion as Dave talked about can often overcome those challenges with enough sweat. By mixing it up with older kids in my neighborhood, and practicing in the side yard my skill would meet up with my eventual maturity, and give me the privilege to play with other great players through the select, high school, and ODP ranks who generally had to work just as hard.


f-ing awesome dude. i agree completely.


Matthew Hathcock wrote …

I think you all are quite funny, at least those on the side of " I can't believe this." Well pay attention. This is not the CrossFit view, they simply asked Tate what HE thought. There was no consensus on drugs being allowed in CF. Obviously there was testing at the games. If someone wants to juice, let them juice. Mind your own F-ing business and if you want to stay drug free, stay drug free. I have never used steroids and probably never will. Why must you care so much about someone elses choice. Like Tate said, if you're not at a pro level of competition, you can't understand the passion or the pressure to stay a the top. Not everything on CF Journal is to be taken and followed. Use what works for you, what makes you most efficient. Isn't that the CF way?


wrote …

OUTSTANDING and pragmatic view. I've always liked Tate's stuff, even a bigger fan now.


wrote …

I have to agree with people who say that this is the most honest, straight forward and probably realistic view! no dodging, no bull§$%&ing!
I like it!!!!


Paul Southern wrote …

That was awesome. Dave Tate is fearless in his plain talk about a derisive topic.


wrote …

One thing I love about CrossFit is that it generates unrestricted discussion of murky issues. With the increasing popularity of the Games it looks like Steroids are becoming the latest issue.

I for one am glad to have Dave Tate's opinion.

Also I thought his comments on high school kids buying all the gear were hilarious.


wrote …

I read some of these comments, then went and watched "Bigger, Stronger, Faster".

Made me re-read a lot of these comments, and TOTALLY changed my perception.

Recommend this video to anyone before the write anything, or even form judgement about steroid use, supplement use, one country providing it's athletes with better bicycles than the country that can't even afford a track-suit, high-tech swim suits, etc...


wrote …

Honesty and no BS is refreshing. However, I disagree with his opinion and attitude towards the topic.


replied to comment from Kyle Hougendobler

I have never used steriods and never plan to, but saying that steriods are wrong just because it is "cheating" doesn't offer much to the debate. I assume that cheating is wrong because it lends a unfair advanatage compared to those who don't. But so does the school we went to, our coaches, our ability to access a gym, our ability to afford healthy food, our genetics. These factors create an unfair advantage.


replied to comment from Kyle Hougendobler

I have never used steriods and never plan to, but saying that steriods are wrong just because it is "cheating" doesn't offer much to the debate. I assume that cheating is wrong because it lends a unfair advanatage compared to those who don't. But so does the school we went to, our coaches, our ability to access a gym, our ability to afford healthy food, our genetics. These factors create an unfair advantage.


wrote …

Good insight on an issue that really bothers me. My eutopian crossfit community is one that provides a natural holistic health option. This would exclude the use of steroids simply based on the principle of caring about what we put in our bodies. The very obvious difference between genetic advantage, healthy food affordability etc. and steroid use, is that steroid use is completely unnatural.


wrote …

I think most of the comments here are missing the point of the conversation. Nobody in the video said anybody should use drugs. In CrossFit as Trevor Reid eluded to the vast majority of people participate for the healthy living and lifestyle not to mention the community/friendships made. Pro-Atheletes are entertainers and do not have the same motivations for playing in the first place.


wrote …

I am a healthcare professional and I found this article via a search on behalf of a client. The subject of medications of any sort are by and large taboo in my field which is chiropractic. However, the exercise routine that you subscribe to intrigues me.
Seattle Chiropractor

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)