Never one to shy away from giving his opinion on controversial subjects, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said steroids could be used to help athletes recover from injuries as long as they are prescribed by doctors and that it could be proved there would be no long-term damage.
At a University of Pittsburgh forum yesterday, the Pittsburgh native responded to a question about the 10-game suspension of Orlando's Rashard Lewis during last season's NBA playoffs.
"I'll get killed for saying this," Cuban replied, "but I'm not so against steroids if they're administered under proper supervision and there is no long-term damage."
He said that steroids, which are banned by all the major sports and are also illegal to possess without a doctor's prescription, may benefit those recovering from surgery.
Cuban said he hoped his comments would initiate a conversation on a topic that is considered radioactive. If the proper medical criteria are met, he added, "why wouldn't we" use them for medical reasons.
"If somebody thinks it's controversial, fine. To me, it's just common sense," he said. "I'm sure I'll hear about it [today] that 'Cuban is for Steroids.' "
Cuban added that he did not think there is widespread use of steroids in the NBA, which like all the major sports, provides for suspensions following a positive test. In recent years, as big-name athletes have been suspended and/or associated with steroid use, performance-enhancing drugs have been the subject of congressional hearings. But steroids prescribed by doctors have also been used legally in anti-aging therapies.
Cuban, a former Pitt student who became a billionaire through Internet-related business dealings, spoke to several hundred students and answered questions for about an hour at the William Pitt Union on campus. His NBA team was in town to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in a preseason game at the Petersen Events Center.
Wearing a Pitt basketball shirt, Cuban asked and answered the first question because it is the one he is always asked when he returns to his hometown.
"No, I'm not buying the Pirates," he said. "I tried. [It's] not going to happen. We'll leave it at that."
Later, while speaking to reporters, Cuban said he still remembers Sid Bream sliding home with the winning run that kept the Pirates out of the 1992 World Series, and he admitted his frustration with the record 17 losing seasons that have followed.
"I'm as disappointed as everybody else. It's frustrating as can be," he said. But he added that he is still a fan of the Pirates and would still support them.
Questions posed to him by students ranged from the $1.5 million he has been fined by NBA commissioner David Stern to his appearance on "Dancing With The Stars" to his days at Pitt.
He called his fines for criticizing NBA officiating "money well spent" because they led to changes that improved the league.
Cuban was introduced by Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon and was given a Pitt jersey, an Oakland Zoo T-shirt and a Primanti Brothers sandwich.
Robert Dvorchak can be reached at email@example.com .