Mark Cuban: 'I'm not so against steroids'
Mark Cuban is no stranger to controversy, so the Dallas Mavericks owner and Pittsburgh native anticipated that his comments about the NBA's steroid policy would cause a stir as soon as he opened his mouth.
Cuban was asked about the issue Tuesday afternoon during a 52-minute question-and-answer session with Pitt students at the William Pitt Union in Oakland, and his response elicited a surprise reaction.
"I'm not so against steroids," Cuban said, pausing to a roomful of laughter, "if it's administered under the proper supervision."
Born in Squirrel Hill and raised in Mt. Lebanon, the former Pitt student and billionaire founder of Broadband.com took part in the Pitt Program Council speaker series just hours before his Mavericks played the Cleveland Cavaliers at Pitt's Petersen Events Center.
After being introduced by Panthers men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon, Cuban quickly quashed any talk of purchasing a Pittsburgh pro sports team: "I can answer the question everybody is going to ask -- no, I'm not buying the Pirates. I tried ... but, not going to happen."
After saying he been fined more than $1.5 million for his courtside conduct and controversial comments by NBA commissioner David Stern, Cuban candidly discussed an oft-taboo topic in professional sports.
"Maybe because I don't have to deal with it that it's an uninformed comment," Cuban said, "but I think my position is just common sense."
The comments came just minutes after declaring personalized medicine and genetics as the next potential markets for financial boom and comparing the potential development of monitored steroid use to the technological advances that paved the path for Lasik eye surgery and the reconstructive repair on the elbow known as Tommy John surgery.
"We do performance-enhancing things all the time, just not steroids," Cuban said. "If you administer them properly and fairly and set the rules strictly, as long as in doing so we recognize there are no negative long-term health-impact issues. Sometimes, you just put blinders on because it came from underground. Rather than saying, 'what's the best way to do this and is there a positive out of it?' we just dismiss it."
It wasn't the first time Cuban has taken an adversarial position in the steroids saga. In the August 2007 issue of Portfolio magazine, he said "the media tries to make a big issue out of things most fans couldn't care less about" in discussing his indifference toward Barry Bonds' alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs while chasing baseball's home-run record.
Afterward, Cuban reiterated to reporters that supervised steroid use could be allowed only if proven to have no long-term negative health impacts.
"Obviously, a lot of people think that they can," Cuban said. "I'm not an expert in the subject, but if we get to the point where there aren't long-term negative health impacts, why wouldn't you do it?"
Not that he expects the NBA or any of the other three major professional sports leagues to adopt a pro-steroids stance because of the risk involved.
"You have to get to the point where that risk isn't there," Cuban said, "and we're not there yet."