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Steroid use and death
Alzado was one of the first major US sports figures to admit to using anabolic steroids. In the last years of his life, as he battled against the brain tumor that eventually caused his death, Alzado asserted that his steroid abuse directly led to his fatal illness. According to some reports, Alzado was using natural growth hormone, harvested from human corpses, as opposed to synthetic growth hormones. However, shortly before his death, Alzado recounted his steroid abuse in an article in Sports Illustrated,
“I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I’m sick, and I’m scared. Ninety percent of the athletes I know are on the stuff. We’re not born to be 300 lb (140 kg) or jump 30 ft (9.1 m). But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it. I did things only crazy people do. Once a guy sideswiped my car and I beat the hell out of him. Now look at me. My hair’s gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else ever dies this way.
The role that anabolic steroids actually played in his death, if any, has been the subject of controversy. The lymphoma of the brain that took his life has never been associated with steroid use either before or since, and his own physician stated there was no evidence to support Alzado’s claim. The claim was denounced as a myth in the 2008 documentary, “Bigger Stronger, Faster” and by Wisconsin pediatrician and steroid expert Norm Fost, MD.}}
Alzado died at age forty-three. He is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.