I've decided to enlist an expert, me, to help us sort through some of these tough questions and complicated issues.
How exactly do steroids enhance an athlete's performance? Well, whenever you do any sort of vigorous exercise you are essentially doing damage to your muscles. You're tearing them down. That's why you get that wobbly feeling in your legs, and you fall down the stairs leaving the gym and smash your eyeball on a fire hydrant and have to be rushed to the emergency room. What happens while you recover from your workout in a hospital--or, like most people, the next day at work--is that your muscles repair themselves. They rebuild bigger and stronger tissue in anticipation of the next workout. However long this period of recovery takes depends on your DNA. What steroids do is dramatically speed your recovery and enable you to exercise more often without doing damage. You get bigger faster because you can recover sooner.
In no sport is doping more common than track and field. (Unless you consider baseball a sport, which it isn't; it's an activity, like knitting.) Sprinters especially get great results from steroid use because sprinting rips up your muscles like nothing else. Doping, however, does not replace the intense workouts that these athletes have to subject themselves to. It doesn't make anything they do easier; it just makes them able to do it more often. And thus make more money.
I know, I know. This week's column has been so fucking boring! But that's the thing about performance-enhancing drugs: They're not entertaining. Athletes who use steroids are basically cheaters who don't play by the rules. And, like my football coach told me after I got caught biting my opponents' ankles, cheaters only cheat themselves.