Gavin Mortimer’s article on the decline in good behaviour among rugby players suggests the possible influence of anabolic steroids in the game. I played league for my grammar school and then union for Sheffield University Medical School Rugby Club 2nd XV for a couple of years in the 1970s. Back then, I never saw any unbridled aggression, except on the field, as part of the game.
Mortimer’s article states that some players’ aggression is now being taken off the field and on to the streets. There are examples here in the United States, where I now live, of police officers, soldiers and sportsmen becoming addicted to muscle enhancing medications, which help them to ‘bulk up’. Soccer players are more likely to be lean, as they require speed rather than Herculean strength. Some rugby players, on the other hand, look more like American football players, who despite a stringent testing programme still occasionally turn up positive for performance enhancing drugs. If this is the case, can the damage they are doing to their bodies be worth it in the long term?
This letter appears in this week’s Spectator