Columns - 2007

    Performance Enhancers I - Back Then

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice columnist

    Even if you didn't read all 409 pages of the Mitchell Report, you probably heard that it names not only current users of performance enhancers, but users from the past as well.

    What you probably haven't heard is that the original, unabridged draft included names from farther in the past.

    As an exclusive, this column procured the missing pages identifying many more suspected performance enhancement users dating back just a few years more than the published report.

    Jacob had thirteen children. Though they were spread over four wives, it's hard to imagine how anyone could pull off that feat without help. But the focus of this report is about enhancers more in the realm of steroids and their like.

    Consider Moses and the many great feats accomplished by his hand. Skip the acts that defy explanation, and focus on the more tangible episodes to see where performance enhancement seemingly profits the most.

    In the desert, Moses struck rocks until they produced either water or blood. Even if the rocks were given their liquid centers by divine hand, Moses needed the superhuman strength to split a rock open with his staff.

    Moses came down from Sinai with two tablets bearing the Ten Commandments. He smashed those tablets and received a new pair. Tradition says he smashed the first set out of anger, but it is possible that upon seeing the Israelites worshiping the golden calf he actually became too weakened by the sight to hold the tablets any longer. While receiving the second set he could have also received help to hold them up through such adversity.

    The fall of the walls of Jericho simply from the blast of a shofar raises significant suspicion. Dizzy Gillespie on his best day never even brought down a brick facade.

    The question which might never be answered is where enhancers fit in. Did Joshua take them to enhance his lung capacity for shofar playing? Or were steroids given to the ram before it was slaughtered to enhance its horn that was used as the shofar?

    A young lyre-player confronted a Philistine giant with nothing but a sling and three small rocks. Countless trained soldiers were killed quickly by this Goliath, yet the young David with one shot at the giant's skull showed that the rest were just a stone's throw from a breakthrough.

    Is there any way that this feat would have been possible even for an adult with ordinary muscle strength? Further, the behavioral side effects of some steroids could explain a great deal about his misdealings later in life that led to his handling of Bathsheba and her early-departed husband.

    Samson drew great strength from his hair, the sign of his covenant with the Big G. Of course, Delilah came along and weed-whacked Samson back to normalcy.

    What really gave him his strength in the first place? Did Samson get divine help in growing back his hair? Would the Big G have given him the strength in the end to pull down the pillars, collapsing the building on both him and his nemeses? Without DNA evidence it is impossible to confirm, but it seems clear that Samson's late resurgence, if not his initial strength as well, was the result of using HGH (Hair Growth Hormone).

    In the days of Matathias, a revolt was needed to recapture the great Temple in Jerusalem. As they hurried to restore and rededicate the desecrated Temple, they tried to relight the eternal lights of the menorah.

    As we know, they had enough oil for only one day, not the eight days until OPEC would release more. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil lasted for eight days after all.

    Was it a miracle? Or was it the mixture of the one day's oil supply plus a chemical infusion of performance enhancers that significantly increased its stamina?

    With the destruction of the Temple went any hope of analyzing the remains for the presence of stray chemicals. While this might seem like a dead end, investigation found an unlikely descendent of the head family of the revolt.

    Just outside Dublin, Ireland, lives Josephus McAbee. Not only does he claim that he is a direct descendent of Matathias, but he insists that longstanding family lore is clear about the miracle being authentic and unadultered.

    These additional pages of the report contain conjecture. While much of this seems an obvious conclusion, much of it would not hold up in court.

    Will there ever be enough clear evidence? Will this forever cream our view of these heroes? Will Sunday School children see their example and use performance enhancers themselves? Is it already too late?

    Tune in next time for Performance Enhancers II - Back For More.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley whose play Alternate Proposal premieres in January at The Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit his new website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.