Originally Posted by vaticanplum
For me, the health aspect is a huge aspect of steroids and the one aspect of them that is actually overlooked in the public outcry about them. No, there's not a moral difference between steroids and other forms of cheating, but there is a physical one. And sports are first and foremost a physical endeavor, not a moral one. Sports exist to encourage people to stay in good physical shape and support "healthy" competition. Steroids are directly antithetical to both those things. And so for me it completely takes away the correct message of what sports are supposed to be for those just learning the definition.
If steroids were proven to be healthy, or if certain steroids were solely beneficial or at least solely medicinal -- with benefits that outweigh brief side effects, like some other things you mention -- then yes, I would feel differently about them. Then no player would have to make the choice between his body and his game.
edit: I should point out that by the health aspects of steroids being "overlooked", I mean that they've been buried in the rampant public moral outcry. I still do believe that steroids' negative health effects are at the bottom of the debate regardless. If steroids were good for you, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. They'd be legal and we'd cheer and yawn at the records being broken every year.
But that's the problem. These guys aren't taking them because they are bad for them. No one's going to intentionally take something that's bad for them. No one's going to intentionally take rat poison unless they want to die. However, people will take something that may have bad side effects if it will do them some short term good. Steroids are a perfect example. They are taking these because they may be beneficial in the short term. Otherwise they wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole. Adding muscle mass is a good thing if it's done naturally. If Bonds, et. al. had got their builds from weightlifting and good nutrition, it wouldn't be a bad thing. It's not the muscle mass that they are gaining that is the problem, it's the way they are going about it.