Nearly a third of all fantasy football players have admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, commissioners of leagues reported.
"It is a dangerous trend that is only expected to increase in the next 10 to 15 years," said Shane Reynolds, commissioner of the East Coast Rockers Fantasy Football League. "I was really surprised to learn how many in our eight-team league actually admitted to using steroids."
For instance, in the 10-team Waycross Georgia Bulldog League, three players have admitted to using performance enhancers, Commissioner Bubba Dalton reluctantly confirmed.
"It's a crying shame," Dalton said. "For all the players who play the sport without enhancers, there are two or three who give the rest of us a black eye."
A man who would only talk on the condition anonymity said he has used steroids in his fantasy league for the past three years. "It gets pretty stressful," he said. "It gives you increased stamina while you're sweating it out at the computer watching Stat Tracker and trying to beat your rival."
In the last three years, three deaths have been reported across the nation due to steroid use, Collin McMillan, a fantasy football expert said. "You have these guys, guys who have made solid picks in the pre-season draft who all of sudden think drugs are going to give them an edge. It's a grueling season, I know, but when you weigh what these fantasy athletes are doing to their bodies over the long haul, it's really not worth the risk."
Natalie Chandler watched her brother go from one of the strongest fantasy football players in the Bad Dawg League to nearly dying because of steroid use. "The toll it has taken on Hunter's body has been just heartbreaking," she said. "I would confront him about it and he would just brush it off, saying he had to get that competitive edge and I didn't understand the demands that being in a league takes on even the strongest player."
League commissioners across the country are considering having a meeting to further discuss the matter and perhaps come up with some testing standards.
For Nora Barnhill of Ocala, Fla., that meeting will be too late. Her son, Clayton, a member of the Florida Juicers League, was the third victim of fantasy football steroid abuse.
"I never really understood," Mrs. Barnhill said in a telephone interview. "It really wasn't like he was out there playing. As far as I could figure he was just picking players and keeping track of statistics."
She said her son told her, however, it was far more to the sport than just picking players. She said he told her he was actually their eyes and ears, arms and legs."'You're out there playing,'" his mother said, recalling a conversation before her son's death. "'When you're playing teams as tough as Redneck's Revenge you've got to have something to give you an edge.'"