Book Review: The Juice
The following synopsis is located on the back cover: “…’The Juice’ offers a wide-ranging investigation of the drugs now being used or contemplated, the athletes who use them, their scientific effects and side effects, the testing procedures, and the impact of drugs on game performance. Will Carroll…also explores the grey area of legal supplements, reviews the law involved in the BALCO case, and speculates on the next generation of performance enhancers that may well include gene therapy. In exclusive interviews he profiles the motives and experiences of professional players, student athletes, and drug creators.”
That just about covers it.
In the Introduction author Will Carroll, in describing his motivation for writing “The Juice”, quotes Alan Schwarz: “’I wrote the book because I wanted to read it. It would have been much easier for me to have gone to the bookstore and bought it, but it wasn’t there.’ …the material that follows is something I could not find, yet wanted to see in print.”
There is information included in “The Juice” that I was not aware of, and didn’t even suspect.
Rob Neyer, of ESPN, is quoted on the front cover: “Don’t say another word about ‘steroids’ until you’ve read ‘The Juice’.” It’s time to treat the problem
Not too long ago I read an on line discussion about the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in baseball. This was just as I was beginning to read “The Juice”. Gee, all of the points people were getting at in that discussion are presented, clarified &/or answered in “The Juice”.
Along those lines, Allen Barra is quoted on the back cover, thusly: “Everyone talks about steroids, but no one knows anything about them. Will Carroll’s ‘The Juice’ is the first step in our education.” I found Mr. Barra’s quote to be very accurate.
In the Foreword, Alan Schwarz opines: “What Will brings to the steroids issue is calm, measured analysis of a subject that too often drowns in sanctimonious pap.” Once again, a very accurate description of this book.
I found the chapters featuring profiles of various participants in this drama (the player, the tester, the student, and the creator) to be of particular interest. Very enlightening.
Similarly, the chapter titled: “Pre-trial Commotion: The Legal Issues of Steroids and Sports”, which was prepared with the help of Pat Cotter, a white-collar criminal defense attorney from Chicago, I found to be extremely enlightening.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes, from the book:
– “…the issue was never about science, it was about emotion.”
– “Assumption is the marshal of this parade. Fact is stuck somewhere in the back of the ranks.”
– “When does a lifesaving drug become an illegal performance-enhancing drug? That’s a question for the ethicists, but I’ll go as far as saying that the difference lies in intent.”
– “Framing a debate is often a matter of language. Entire books have been written about choosing words carefully, and most of the terms in this particular debate are loaded (no pun intended).”
– “Every son of a bitch in here is on something. Aspirin, Advil, Vioxx, whatever. I have to get spiked (injections of painkillers) just to get on the field.”
– “De Coubertin, who wrote the Olympic Oath, was an idealist who foresaw the Olympics as an apolitical gathering of pure athletes where the emphasis would be on competing rather than winning. ‘The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle’ was probably his most famous saying. The Baron died in 1937, before the Olympics became the chemically enhanced, political, and commercial circus it has become today.”
– “…it is obvious that baseball players have been involved in chemical warfare…”
– “The first weapon in any battle is knowledge. Consider yourself armed.”
– “But for every good thing a performance-enhancing substance has to offer, it always seems to carry serious baggage.”
– “For Major League Baseball, the message should be loud and clear: Don’t clean up baseball for public relations reasons. Don’t clean it up for the fans. Clean up baseball for the game and for the health of its players.”
– “Used properly, there is a place for supplements. Used improperly, they are at best a waste, at worst a gateway to stronger, more dangerous drugs. This industry is ripe for regulation.”
– “The three greatest motivations are desire to excel, desire for glory, and money – not necessarily in that order.”
– “Remember that drug tests are not as omnipotent as the general public is led to believe.”
I enjoyed reading “The Juice”, because it is factual, rather than speculative.
I recommend “the Juice” to anyone with an interest in drugs, sports, human performance, or just in reading a well written book.
I thank Joe Aiello and Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, for making a copy of “The Juice” available to me for reading and for review.