Steroid Guru Dies -- January 5, 2001
DR. ROBERT KERR, a sports medicine specialist known as the "steroid guru" due to his propensity for supplying athletes with performance-enhancing drugs, has died. The 65-year-old Kerr died of a heart attack Wednesday at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, in California, according to his son, Robert.
Kerr was a controversial figure in the 1980s, when he talked openly about administering steroids to athletes.
In 1989, he testified before the Canadian government's commission of inquiry into drug use by athletes, formed after sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive for steroids at the 1988 Olympics.
Kerr told the commission he provided anabolic steroids for about 20 athletes who won medals in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He never identified the athletes, though most, if not all, are thought to have competed in track and field. Kerr said he began prescribing drugs for athletes because he was appalled to see them buying drugs from the black market.
"That seemed to me a rather bizarre way to take medications," he said. "I thought medical doctors should try to put some sense into what was going on."
In his 1982 book, "The Practical Use of Anabolic Steroids With Athletes," Kerr wrote that he had treated more than 4,000 athletes from 20 countries.
Asked about the ethics of helping athletes cheat, Kerr told "60 Minutes" in a 1985 interview: "This is not cheating -- not when everyone does it."
Later Kerr stopped prescribing steroids, saying that his attempts to give athletes guidance failed because they often supplemented what he prescribed with drugs they obtained elsewhere. "You can't trust athletes," he said.
Kerr grew up in Ohio and California, earning his medical degree at the University of California, Irvine.