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Bryan E. Denham

Designer steroids contain chemical structures “derived from, or substantially similar to” anabolic steroids, which became Schedule III controlled substances in the United States in 1990. Chemists create designer steroids by reverse engineering existing drugs, altering their chemical structures, and creating new compounds. Seeking to help curtail problems with steroid-spiked dietary supplements, the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2014 classified 25 designer steroids, many contained in supplements, as controlled substances. Previous versions of the 2014 legislation, introduced in 2010 and 2012, had failed to become law despite consistent news accounts of supplements contaminated with conventional and designer steroids, as well as steroid precursors. Guided conceptually by a streams-of-influence model, the present article examines regulatory processes involving designer steroids and discusses limitations on the capacity of news outlets to build policy agendas.

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Bryan E. Denham

This article addresses how The New York Times, through an investigative series on drug use and catastrophic breakdowns in U.S. horse racing, influenced policy initiatives across a 6-month period. Beginning with the March 25, 2012, exposé “Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys,” the article analyzes how the newspaper helped define policy conversations at both the state and national levels. The article also addresses how the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act of 2011, a fledgling piece of legislation, became what Kingdon described as a “solution in search of a problem” and thus a political lever in policy deliberations. Long recognized for its capacity to influence the content of other news outlets, the article concludes, The New York Times can also play an important role in legislative arenas, informing lawmakers of salient issues, as well as opportunities for substantive and symbolic policy actions.

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Bryan E. Denham

In this essay, the author proposes that, in order to understand how the issue of performance-enhancing-drug use in professional baseball has been defined for mass audiences, scholars need to consider the political and economic interests of both baseball and the media companies that have covered the issue. Where performance-enhancing drugs are concerned, media characterizations have had a significant impact on the formation of public and organizational policy, and the author seeks to demonstrate that portrayals and perceptions of drug use in baseball can be understood through the media product that results from an intersection of normative standards with powerful influences on those standards. Calling out the heavy hitters in a culture of pervasive drug use is unfair to elite performers in that media reports sometimes give the impression that athletes have reached superstar status because they were willing to do what others were not; this is a basic falsehood.