Rio and Steroids

With the beginning of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, spectators are being drawn to media devices with the hope of watching glory and history being made.        


Along with the celebratory news of Gold medals and broken records comes the controversy of steroids and masking steroid use. The biggest controversy in this summer’s Olympic games are the allowance over 100 Russian athletes who tested positive last month for steroid use and drugs masking steroid use.

There have been investigations of a state run program in Russia that was giving steroids to its athletes and then giving oral drugs mixed with alcohol to avoid detection of steroids. The effect on the Olympic games is already being seen with athletes from Russia being booed whenever they walk into a stadium or arena.


The largest scandal so far in the games was Russian swimmer, Yulia Efimova. She was a competitor for the gold medal in the 100 meter breaststroke. She was mainly competing against American Lilly King. King who believed Efimova should not have been able to compete has said that “You’re shaking your finger ‘No. 1’ and you’ve been caught for drug cheating,” after Efimova won her semifinal heat and threw up a celebratory no. 1 finger. King continued and said “I’m not a fan.”  

The two athletes met during the finals, where King prevailed and won the gold medal. Efimova won silver but that still is taking a medal from Katie Meili of America who competed without any evidence that she was doping while Efimova had tested positive for doping twice in the last year. It is still early in the olympic games and there are many more events where olympians can be robbed of their dreams by those previously banned for doping but allowed to compete. But what makes steroids so bad?

In America, steroids are stigmatized so everyone knows if they get caught using it, they will lose their records and respect. Socialization of this value that steroids are bad is why Americans such as Lilly King see them as the worst kind of evil in sports. And the truth is that steroids are harmful. Steroids consists of the male hormone testosterone but is abused in large amounts by athletes to boost their performance. According to a research article by Ji- Guo Yu, steroids alter the morphology of skeletal muscle tissue in athletes allowing them to grow faster and gain more strength compared to other athletes not using steroids. The long term harmful effects of continued anabolic steroid use is damage to the liver, shrunken testicles, chemical addiction and alteration of normal brain pathways. For all of these reasons have steroids been banned. However socialization in another culture may have been why so many athletes knowingly or unknowingly took steroids, such as in this case with Russia. Values such as being the best at all costs, glory and winning are values that may have tempted so many athletes and their coaches to cheat. In the end, when Russian athletes medal they will claim glory but also shame. Shame from not winning their medals clean.


-Steven Kaufman


Is this the end of workout infomercials like P90X?

Infomercials have been around since nearly the start of television with sponsor companies having the goal of selling their products to a wide viewing audience. One of the all time biggest selling promotions was the workout video which came into popularity in the 1980s. The main idea of a workout video was to have people exercise at home and save money instead of buying a membership to a gym or hiring a personal trainer. When you throw in a well known celebrity to lead your workout like Jane Fonda or Cindy Crawford in the early days, it’s bound to sell.

In today’s market the biggest and best known workout videos are P90X or Insanity. As people might watch infomercials for P90X or Insanity, you would think they are competitors competing for an audience that only will only buy their product and dismiss others. However, this is not true. Both P90X and Insanity are both owned by a well known company called BeachBody who promote and take in revenue for both workout videos.

But how does BeachBody make a profit from doing this? Research shows that P90X has made BeachBody over $200 million dollars and Insanity has made them over $350 million dollars. But how when they are competing against each other? The answer lies in novelty and people’s innate ability to put things off until later. According to surveys and studies, only 7- 10 percent of people who buy P90X will finish it but only 3.8 percent of people will return the DVDs for a refund. People say to themselves that they will come back to the workouts later but they never do or they will move onto a newer product that may be a better fit for them or just another reason to not ever do P90X again. This is where Insanity comes in. People buy Insanity after P90X and again they fall into old habits and slowly take it out of their lives but they don’t return it thinking they can finish it later.

Novelty has a huge influence on whether people buy a product or not. They want something that is new and trending. One good examples is the Shakeweight. Shakeweight sold over 2 million weights grossing $40 million dollars for something that burns as many calories as walking 3 mph for a couple of minutes.  The infomercials to sell the videos were called “slightly pornographic” but became an internet hit boosting the sales of the product.


However, the sales from infomercials for workout videos like P90X have gone down. Why? The newest craze on the workout scene, streaming workouts. Instead of working out to the same video daily and paying one large sum up front, now you can workout for a low price of $12.99 a month and have a variety of videos to choose from, with new content being uploaded everyday. Sites like this make us wonder if this is the end of the push model of advertising that is infomercials- well at least for workout videos. The newest and biggest proponent of streaming workouts- you guessed it, BeachBody.

-Steven Kaufman