By Sean Ostruszka

Where they walk, everyone’s eyes follow.

Anyone who has set foot inside the Campus Recreation Center’s weight room has seen them. The men, and women, who have more muscle than Greek gods.

Some are massive, others are just solid ripped muscle. They’ve put in the time and the effort to carve out the perfect body. And the weight room is a place to keep it tuned and show it off.

But with the growing controversy over steroids, some wonder whether that “perfect” body comes in pill form. And the more steroids occupy headlines, the more the weight room has become like a courtroom.

Everybody is on trial.

The accused

William Dickens is one of those students who everyone watches.

A sophomore biology major, Dickens is a regular in the small weight room.

His shoulders make him look like he’s wearing football pads, and he does 10 reps with what most can only dream of doing one.

With his size and strength, it’s no surprise people often wonder whether he’s juicing.

But the reality doesn’t justify the rumors.

Dickens says to be his size you first have to be what he considers “genetically gifted.” After that, it takes years of hard work in the weight room.

And as far as taking pills, the only things that go down Dickens’ throat are multivitamins.

“I don’t even use supplements,” the sophomore said.

Yet even the truth doesn’t stop people from throwing around accusations.

And Dickens isn’t the only one garnering these accusations. Of the 20-plus students questioned for this story, all said they thought steroids were used at the Rec.

Yet when asked if they knew or had heard of anyone who actually used the illegal drugs, almost everyone’s answer was the same: No.

Only one said he knew students who had used steroids, but when asked on a second day, he promptly switched his story.

Another said he has seen suspicious acts in the Rec locker rooms. Acts such as students taking pills and one actually injecting something into his arm. But the student couldn’t be sure if any of the acts were related to steroids.

The proof

While students are unsure of who is really on steroids, Rod Caughron isn’t.

The director of Graduate Studies in Sport Management, Caughron not only feels NIU students use steroids, he actually has known students who used them.

“Sometimes they would come to me,” Caughron said. “Other times I would approach them. But I’ve had a few students admit [steroid use].”

In those cases, Caughron warned the students of what they were doing.

NIU head strength and conditioning coach Matt Mangum also believes NIU students are using steroids.

“I’ve seen it,” Mangum said. “I know people at the Rec have been using them.”

As a power lifter, Mangum has been around some of the strongest men in the world. And he’s also seen what steroids do to a person, and through his experiences there is no doubt students here are juicing.

The reputation

While rumors fly based on physique, they are even worse when they used to be based on truth.

An anonymous fraternity on campus admits that as recently as four years ago it had a large steroid problem within the house.

Members of the fraternity used anabolic steroids and other performance enhancers to bulk up for such Greek events as Greek Physique and tugs.

Even though numerous members say the problem has since been cleared up, the reputation of being steroid users still casts a shadow over the house.

“It’s not something anyone in the house likes to talk about,” an anonymous member said.

When it comes to steroids, no one likes talking about it.

While everyone has their own opinion on the subject, few have more than rumors and accusations to go on. But those rumors keep the fire surrounding steroids burning.

There may never be a definite answer to the question of whether steroids have come to the college campus, NIU head Athletic Trainer Phil Voorhis may have said it best.

“A college campus reflects the problems in our society. Steroids on campus are just another one of those reflections.”