We the media aren’t too often able to get into the “whys” that make athletes choose to use PEDs, illegal substances, in order to try and gain a performance edge.
It makes sense, in that people who have used steroids or other banned chemicals usually aren’t keen to advertise that, and then get into in-depth discussions about their usage.
Ex fighter Mia St John, age 51, fought from 1997 to 2016. Last week, she admitted that during portions of her career, she used PEDs, and named some steroids which she took. On Tuesday, St. John came on the Everlast “Talkbox” podcast, and gave us some insight into why she chose to make the decision to try and gain an edge through chemicals.
One reason to start using is that an athlete believes that maybe their foe is using, so they want to be on an even playing field. “For sure,” St. John said, when I posited that theory, for a motivation that got her to take steroids.
She also gave insight into her personality, her mental and emotional health, and how that affected her decision making. “I had to ask myself, why do I feel so insecure, that I feel the need to do something so self destructive? …My whole life I suffered from depression, anxiety, low self esteem, most of my childhood. And so winning was so important to me. I wanted to win at any cost. A lot of us come from lower socio economic families and cultures. I know it’s a big problem in the Latino culture, to succeed and to make our parents proud.” Her mom, she said, busted on her verbally when she didn’t perform up to par, “in a very Latino way.” She said she loves her mom immensely, but “Latinos are tough on our kids.”
Basically, her low self esteem helped push her to take that risk and take steroids to help her trim down for fights.
My three cents: I appreciate how St. John is taking this issue in that direction. Yes, mental health bleeds into decision-making, and the choices we make. We can blame people for being “cheaters” but it isn’t always cut and dry. People sometimes self medicate their depression an anxiety in different ways, and so St. John is right, if we can remember to factor that in, understanding mental health issues, then our society will be better off.