Tommy Chaikin, a former University of South Carolina defensive lineman, tells of steroid-induced violence, illness, tumors, anxiety attacks and a near-suicide attempt in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. While he's at it, he paints an unflattering picture of his former South Carolina coaches, one of them being Tom Gadd, the University of Utah's defensive coordinator who held the same position at South Carolina from 1983 to 1986.
In the article, Chaikin, who tells his story through the words of SI staff writer Rick Telander, indicates that South Carolina coaches knew of their players' steroid use but looked the other way.Gadd says the story is one-sided. "Sports Illustrated talked to me for more than 30 minutes and didn't use any of it," says Gadd. "In my opinion, the article was already written; he was asking me questions from the text of the story. They talked to a bunch of players and coaches, but I guess what they had to say didn't make good reading."
Gadd says he told SI, among other things, that he confronted Chaikin in the fall of 1984 about steroid use, but the magazine does not mention it. "It was obvious to me that when he (Chaikin) came back to school he had used steroids," says Gadd. "A guy his size just doesn't make weight gains like he did. This was before the NCAA began testing (for steroids). I asked him point blank, `Are you using steroids?' He said no. I said, `If you are, you need to get off them.' What can we do if a player lies?"
Asked if he was aware of the alleged widespread steroid use by the South Carolina players (Chaikin says half the team used them), Gadd said, "I had suspicions of seven or eight players - Chaikin and (George) Hyder, his running mate; they were weightroom fanatics. Chaikin says he loves the game of football, but what he loved most was lifting weights. There were some offensive linemen I thought were on them, too."
In the article, Chaikin describes a practice scene from his pre-steroid days in which he gets pushed "all over the field" and suffers repeated muscle pulls. Chaikin says Gadd reacted by saying, "Dianabol (a type of steroid) abuse! Dianabol abuse!"
Gadd says the quote is misinterpreted. "I was being sarcastic," he says. "I thought he was already using them and I wanted him to get off them."
Asked how he feels about steroid use, Gadd says, "I don't think anybody wants to see a kid use something that will have a long-lasting effect on his life. Chaikin makes it sound like coaches pushed him to use steroids."
Like other college coaches Gadd thinks the NFL could help the colleges by testing for steroids. "It's got to start at the top," he says.
As for the article, Gadd says, "I've been a coach for 22 years and I've tried to do as much as I can to help kids get on the right track. Then some guy comes out with one of these sensational Bosworth-like stories and implicates me. I don't know if I can ever erase the damage that has been done."