Creatine in NCAA Baseball

Mark McGwire uses it. Sammy Sosa uses it. The Atlanta Braves have tubs of it in their locker room. Then why does Scott Carnahan, Linfield Colleges varsity baseball coach and coach of the 1994 U. S. A. Olympic baseball team emphasize, I will not participate in distributing it to any of my players? It is Creatine and it has become a health concern among most NCAA baseball coaches in Oregon. Creatine is a substance that is naturally produced in every human being. Every adult has around 130 grams of Creatine in their body. It allows us to run fast, lift hard, and react quickly. These are all the essentials of NCAA baseball.

In recent years, Creatine had been developed as a food supplement to enhance muscle performance. So why wouldnt NCAA baseball coaches in Oregon distribute the food supplement known as Creatine to their athletes? Yes, it is expensive at $49. 99 for 100 grams of powder. But, many coaches in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (an association that regulates many intercollegiate sports) are more concerned about the safety of the player. There are six NCAA baseball teams in Oregon. These teams work hard every year to accomplish a winning season, a conference title, or a national championship.

Players at Linfield, George Fox, Willamette, Oregon State, Pacific, and University of Portland face the pressure to win every season. Linfield College pitcher, Geoff Phillips describes the pressure as, relentless. There is always pressure to work hard in the weight room and train at 100%. Most of the pressure comes from the competition we face and our personal desire to win, said Phillips. 1 To compete at their highest level, ball players have to find time to bulk up. Weight lifting has always been a part of college baseball. After all, modern athletes develop their strength and endurance in the weight room.

But, where once players spent 3-5 hours a week in the weight room, most players now lift 8-10 hours a week. Oregon States head baseball coach, Pat Casey reached his 100th victory last year, the first OSU coach to do so in fewer than 5 years. Winning isnt something that comes natural. It takes a lot of hard work outside of practice, Casey stated in an OSU publication. Linfield head baseball coach, Carnahan, agrees. He assigns a workout schedule that works all major muscle groups and many minor muscle groups. Its a similar story in the Willamette weight room where players work each body part twice a week.

This could take up to 6 days a week depending on how many body parts they work on a day, said Coach Wong. The fact is everybody wants to win. Tough competition and personal desire to win causes a lot of college players in Oregon to take Creatine as a means of boosting their athletic performance. It became a part of NCAA baseball in the middle 1990s when studies showed that Creatine might enhance player capabilities. According to the NCAA Guide Line, Creatine has been found in some laboratory studies to enhance short term, high-intensity exercise capability, delay fatigue and increase strength.

Creatine can also increase muscle strength as much as one and one half times quicker than non-users, according to the Natural Medicines comprehensive database. Although several studies have contradicted the efficiency of Creatine, it has been 2 very popular among ball players. One survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine indicated that 30% of all male collegiate athletes had used Creatine at one time. On average, there are 45 players that compete on NCAA baseball teams in Oregon. Of the six NCAA programs in Oregon, four teams reported that nearly half of their players had used Creatine during the season.

Creatine has produced the kind of results that some players are looking for. A Linfield pitcher states that many players on his team are experiencing positive results. Probably about half of our team had taken Creatine. It has allowed our players to workout harder and longer, said Phillips. Second baseman, Kevin Hill, has also had good results using Creatine. For the past month and a half Creatine has helped me to gain weight and lift at the level I want to, said Hill. Doctor Kerry Kuehl, Director of Human Performance Lab for OHSU, hosted a seminar at Mcminnville high school called, Creatine Talk.

He explained that many athletes experience fewer problems with Creatine when it is taken in moderation. Many athletes feel that since Creatine is meant for short-term, high-intensity workouts that it is okay to take more than the recommended two to five grams a day. That is not the case, he said. Doctor Kuehl added that sometimes athletes take two, three or sometimes four times the recommended dose even though it doesnt pay to do so. Pitcher Damon Lorenz from George Fox had been using Creatine during the 98 season. For the one month I was using Creatine, it worked well.

There has been a lot of controversy about it, but as long as I have a lot of success in the weight room, I will continue to use it, he said. Some baseball players have not been as fortunate using. In 1998, one 3 OSU player using Creatine had experienced severe stomach problems. Oregon State trainers learned that Creatine was eating at the players stomach creating an ulcer. An article in the Stateman Journal stated that an athlete from Beaverton played in his last athletic event last month when he dropped dead during one college game. The reason is unknown, but officials do know that the athlete was taking Creatine at the time of his death.

Rite Aid pharmacy manager, Sheri Siddal, says that even though there have not been any long-term effects linked to Creatine, it could disrupt certain conditions. A study conducted by Natural Medicines stated that Creatine could exacerbate kidney and liver disfunctions. Many athletes arent aware that they have a kidney or liver problem and that it (Creatine) could exacerbate their condition without them knowing about it, said Siddal. Some researchers fear that, with the amount of extra Creatine contrived through the diet, the body might stop producing it all together.

Because there has not been any long term studies, nobody knows for sure. The only way we will find out the negative effects of long term use is time. However, the short-term effects have been determined. Studies show that Creatine has been known to cause weight gain. There had also been a number of anecdotal reports claiming that Creatine supplementation may cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, promote muscle strains/pulls, or contribute to muscle cramps. Lorenz, from George Fox, battled some effects daily. Although Lorenz did claim that Creatine helped enhance his workout, he also claims that he experienced weight gain and dehydration.

Sometimes when I was working out it seemed likr I could lift for hours without drinking much water. The body is 80% water. Most of the weight that players on Creatine gain is 4 water weight. So how can the body dehydrate if players gain water weight? Well, water that is naturally absorbed circulates throughout the whole body. When a player takes Creatine, most of the water in the body runs straight to the skeletal muscles causing other areas of the body to lack water. That is why it is crucial that all players using Creatine drink a lot of water. Of course, each body reacts in a different way.

A survey by the Physician and Sports Medicine reported that 25% of 52 male collegiate athletes reported muscle cramping when they took Creatine. Interestingly, all but two of the athletes that reported muscle cramping also experienced either diarrhea or dehydration. Some researchers argue that the reason why some male collegiate athletes experience side effects and other dont are because they are not taking all the necessary precautions. Many Oregon collegiate baseball players know what they are getting into when they choose to bulk up with Creatine.

Many of the NCAA players who take it do understand that the long-term effects have not been determined. They know that some players have had bad experiences. They are certainly aware that Creatine decreases fatique and can build muscle mass. However, they do not know what they are getting in each bottle. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) found many bottles of Creatine with different ingredient levels. Doctor Kuehl, Director Human Performance at OHSU Department of Medicine, says that calcium and calorie levels were sometimes different then what the bottle read. What does this do to the athlete? Dr.

Kuehl says they have not yet found what kind of impact this could have on athletes. We dont know if or how this will 5 impact athletic performance. It is not a good thing when you think you are taking more then what you really are, or vice versa, said Dr. Kuehl. Initially, the FDA did not test Creatine because it qualified as a food supplement. The reason why the FDA tested Creatine was because they were concerned. They had received enough case reports to do so, Dr. Kuehl added. So, what is the NCAA doing during all this? The NCAA has certain set regulations to protect the safety of the players and the institution.

When Creatine became popular in the NCAA many teams were distributing it to their players. The NCAA makes a point of backing their position of maintaining high standards of personal honor, eligibility, and fair play. As expected, Creatine was not on the banned drug list. Recently, the NCAA held a committee meeting about the distribution of Creatine. The committee recommends that the provision of weight-gain and muscle/strength building supplement products to student-athletes by member institutions and their personnel be nonpermissible at all times.

This means that no team may use NCAA funds, school funds (including team funds) or personal funds to distribute Creatine or any other supplements that enhance performance. According to a letter distributed by the Committee Chair of the NCAA, William Arnet, schools should be encouraging access to competent nutritional advice. The NCAA expects trainers, coaches, and athletic director to educate players about Creatine. One doctor from the Doctors Clinic in Salem takes it upon himself to educate patients about Creatine. Dr. David Edmonds, an expert in family practice, believes all 6 atients should know the risks of Creatine.

It is important that baseball players and all athletes know the truths, said Dr. Edmonds. I think many coaches tell players what they want to hear, he added. In the thirteen years that Dr. Edmonds has been practicing at the Doctors Clinic he hardly heard any complaints about Creatine. Still, every time a patient inquires about Creatine Edmonds states the facts. Yes, Creatine can enhance athletic capability. Yes, Creatine can be dangerous. New York Yankee star, Scott Brosius, chooses not to take Creatine because he does not want to take a risk.

Brosius, a third baseman for the World Series champions, recently received big honors for his talent in the big leagues. In 1998, Brosius lead the Yankees to a four-game sweep against the Padres to win his first championship. Brosius was named M. V. P. of the World Series in 1998, and was honored with the Golden Glove Award for his excellent fielding in the 1999 World Series championship. Brosius attended Linfield Collge located in Mcminnville, Oregon. While at Linfield, he excelled on the field and kept the same attitude as he does for the Yankees. The problem is that many players say if a little is good, than a lot of must be better.

That is where the problem occurs, said Brosius. Brosius does feel Creatine can be used safely, but according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database that could be an overstatement. They define Creatine as, possibly safe, and somewhat effective. Brosius feels that Creatine runs a serious risk to the players body since it makes their bodys grow faster than nature intends it. Sometimes, the muscles can develop so strong that they cause injuries to the body. I have heard cases where players experienced a higher increase of muscle pulls and strains while on Creatine, said Brosius.

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