Former NFL star Lyle Alzado is to be applauded for his 180-degree turnaround on the use of performance-enhancing drugs (I'm Sick and I'm Scared, July 8). He could just as easily have decided to become bitter and resentful. Instead, he is using his abuse of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to try to steer others away. We can only hope his message doesn't fall on deaf cars. Alzado continues to be a winner.
Grants Pass, Ore.
Despite his previous denials, I had suspected Alzado was a steroid user ever since a 1983 playoff game against the New York Jets. Alzado, thinking he had been grabbed below the belt, ripped the helmet off Jet tackle Chris Ward and was hit with a 15-yard personal foul. After the game Alzado said, "It seemed like the right thing to do at the time." Only a "roid rage" could provoke such a senseless act and explanation.
New York City
I remember reading in SI's story about Alzado's comeback attempt ( Lyle Alzado: The Sequel, July 2, 1990) that he made light of using parking spaces reserved for the handicapped. I hope he will overcome his illness so that he won't have to use them in the future.
The unfortunate fact is that Alzado's experience probably will have minimal, if any, effect on the ingestion of steroids by others. Elite athletes will say that it can't happen to them. But it can.
WILLIAM H. DRUCKEMILLER, M.D.
My 17-year-old brother, a senior in high school, is being recruited as an offensive lineman. He has never used steroids, and I hope he never will, but I know that he'll be tempted. I appreciate your coverage of this subject and hope that the example of Alzado will provide one more reason not to use drugs. I also wish Alzado success in his uphill battle.
Cedar Park, Texas
I applaud Alzado's courage in coming forward to admit he was wrong and warn others of the dangers of steroid use. And the man at the gas station who ridiculed Alzado's "hat" is an ignorant jerk. Three years ago doctors detected a malignant tumor in my brain, for which I underwent two operations and radiation therapy. The scarves we cancer patients wear are not devices of vanity but protective covers for the scalp (and possible scars). Sunlight and cold wind are harsh on a head that has suddenly lost its hair.
BRIAN C. GURA
Del Mar, Calif.
Sorry, but I can feel no sympathy for a self-admitted steroid freak. Alzado still hasn't learned anything, as evidenced by his desire to beat up the guy who poked fun at his scarf.
Alzado made a pact with the devil. It brought him fame and fortune. Now that he's trapped, he feels sorry for himself, complaining and whining about his medical bills and the fact that his name has surfaced in various steroid cases. After squandering his money, he wants a benefit. Even now, this jerk is "convinced my biggest mistake was never going off cycle." Wasn't the biggest mistake taking steroids in the first place?
As a responsible pharmaceutical company, and one that manufactures 75% of the recombinant human growth hormone marketed in the U.S., we fully support Alzado's poignant warning about the dangers of drug abuse by athletes. We have tightly restricted distribution of our HGH since it became available in '85 as a prescription drug for growth hormone deficiency. Your readers should also know that there is no scientific evidence to link human growth hormone with the type of cancer experienced by Alzado. After six years of extensive follow-up of 11,000 children receiving the treatment, the drug has an excellent safety record.
ANDREW J. PERLMAN, M.D.
Director, Clinical Research Genentech, Inc.
South San Francisco, Calif.
Since your story came out, Lyle has received many letters and phone calls from people inquiring about his condition and voicing their support. He asked me, his business manager, to let everyone know that he has continued with chemotherapy and is doing well. He has put on weight, gone back to the gym for light workouts and continues to try to persuade steroid and human growth hormone abusers to quit. His spirit is strong. Anyone who wishes to make a donation or write to Lyle can do so in care of the Alzado Family Fund, 279 S. Beverly Drive, Suite 77, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90212.