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By Michael Czobit

Maybe Ryerson’s varsity teams are only a cattle’s muscle-building hormone away from victory.

After a season where most of the Rams failed to make the playoffs, taking a cocktail of steroids, human growth hormones and insulin could provide the edge Ryerson’s athletes need next season.

Hulking baseball star Barry Bonds is accused of taking all three performance-enhancing drugs, including a steroid used to build muscle in cattle, in the new book, Game of Shadows. Based on his success, some might think steroids are the answer for athletes. And there’s no guarantee that Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s (CIS) infrequent testing for banned substances dissuades university athletes from using the potentially harmful drugs.

The CIS averaged only 300 tests each year across all universities for more than 11,000 student-athletes. Players who get juiced could get away with it. Of course, they could get caught and be suspended for one year of eligibility while losing any awards they earned. The most recent available data from CIS shows that in 16 years of testing, the governing organization has had 39 violations. Mirek Porosa, coach of the men’s volleyball team, has never had a player tested since he joined the university 10 years ago.

Marta Pytlak and Jacqueline Vandinther, both from the women’s volleyball team, were the last two Ryerson athletes tested for a banned substance. They were tested after a game last season by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, the organization that carries out the tests for the CIS. Both athletes passed. Vandinther has been on the women’s team for four years and has never thought a teammate or an opponent was using a performance enhancing drug.

“There are just some people that are better than others. Sometimes you sit back in awe.”

Erin Gallagher, the captain of the women’s volleyball team, doesn’t believe a student athlete should ever be tempted to cheat. “Academics should be the priority. “I couldn’t imagine a real athlete wanting to do something like that,” Gallagher added. But a person doesn’t have to be an athlete to want to add muscle using steroids.

“There’s no question anabolic steroids make you stronger. But they’re not the only way,” said John Berardi, a nutrition consultant for several Olympic teams, including Canada’s speed skating team.

Berardi is also the co-author of Scrawny to Brawny, a book that provides a training and nutritional plan to gain muscle naturally.

“You can’t just stumble into the gym, do some bench presses and curls, and get the results you want.” It is possible, though, to put on Barry Bonds-like muscle naturally, Berardi said. Building muscle is a “joint effort between training and nutrition.” “It’s worth noting that a lot of this depends on your genes,” Lou Schuler, an author and strength and conditioning specialist, said.

“There are physiological limits to the amount of muscle you can put on.” Some guys will never put on a lot of mass no matter how hard they lift,” Schuler added.

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