It has been about two weeks since the much anticipated Mitchell Report hit the Web and though it caused an initial shock wave of frenzy among diehard fans and baseball cynics, the overall effect of the report has yet to be seen.

The national media has had their chance to explain the true relevance of the report and predictably have centered on names like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Barry Bonds, and Major League Baseball has promised to take some of the report's advice to make beating steroids tests harder.

Does any of this really matter though?

Even though many outside of baseball were surprised to see "The Rocket" implicated, it seems few with connections to major league clubhouses were too shocked.

Even less shocking are some of the other names given in the Mitchell Report like Gary Sheffield, Lenny Dykstra and Ken Caminiti.

After reading the list of the 83 current or former players named as users of steroids, human growth hormone or both, my initial reaction was, "I told you so."

Like many baseball fans I've had a strong suspicion that baseball was dirty for quite some time.

But now that it's out in the open, will it change? Even if Major League Baseball enacts the toughest penalties in it's history and makes the tests the hardest to beat of any sport, the next time a player like Greg Zaun, Paul Lo Duca, Todd Hundley, Rondell White or Brian Roberts has a breakout year at the plate and then disappears the following year - which definitely hurt a few of my fantasy teams, will anybody believe them when they say they have never used steroids?

I know I won't.

When three men (Greg Anderson, Kirk Radomski, Brian McNamee) can provide so many names of players they sold performance enhancers to either directly or indirectly, one has to wonder how many other major leaguers obtained the same substances from the countless gyms across the nation.

Just because names like Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Bret Boone didn't appear in the Mitchell Report can anybody be sure they are/were clean? For now they deserve the benefit of the doubt but the Mitchell Report does nothing to clear any players of suspicion.

Possibly the only player in baseball that I could unequivocally say is clear of doubt is Ken Griffey Jr., who shies away from weight rooms like a pimple-faced seventh grader from the girls at the junior high dance and takes so long to recover from injuries he may have made as much money sitting on the disabled list the last five years as actually playing.

But the biggest influence the Mitchell Report has may not be on the professional players or the fans who spend billions of dollars on the sport every year, but the aspiring players still trying to perfect that curveball or home run swing.

The most dangerous names to appear in the Mitchell Report aren't the stars that have been suspected since Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa battled each other for the home run record, but the names nobody has ever seen on Sportscenter.

Guys like Chad Allen, Jack Cust, Darren Holmes or Adam Riggs, who never made it big but did make it to the big show, could be the true key to seeing what kind of effect this report will have on baseball.

What those names show kids are that even if you aren't the best, performance enhancers may help you become good enough to make your lifelong dream come true.

If any of those players could be believed to speak honestly, how many of them would say they would give up their experience as a major leaguer for the chance to go back and play clean? Not too many I'm sure.

And when does a chance to achieve a lifelong dream outweigh the effects of taking a potentially crippling or deadly substance?

That's the question young athletes in all sports are pondering around the country.

So, for any young athletes in the area that may be reading this, I would like to list some of the adverse effects of steroids and HGH. Some you may have heard, some not, but none of them will be told to you by the person selling you the substances.

First steroids: The use of steroids has possible connections to heart attacks in young and middle-aged bodybuilders (the most unabashed group of dopers outside of professional wrestlers). This could be because steroids are suspected of enlarging the user's heart. There is more evidence to tie steroid abuse to raised cholesterol levels and liver damage, including jaundice, liver tumors, cancer and peliosis hepatis (life-threatening blood-filled cysts).

Steroids are also known to cause severe shrinkage of the testes in males and ovary damage in females - both leaving the user sterile. Also, steroids can cause the enlargement of the breasts in males and the clitoris in females, shrinkage of the breasts in females, severe acne, increases in body hair, the acceleration of male pattern baldness, and hair loss on the scalp and hair growth on the face of women - things most sane people would prefer to avoid and others pay thousands of dollars to reverse or cover up.

Steroids can also cause stunted growth in adolescents due to the premature fusing of growth plates and are suspected to cause an increase in tendon tears.

The sudden halting of a steroid regimen can also produce withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite and insomnia.

Now for the HGH. While HGH can be used to help rehabilitate from an injury in adults - which players like Pettitte and Eric Gagne supposedly used it for - it can have devastating effects in adolescents.

The first thing that should be known is that HGH has been shown to have no positive effects on muscle strength in healthy individuals.

The most alarming side effect that can appear in adolescents using HGH is gigantism, which is an overgrowth of the entire body that leads to several health problems and an early grave for those afflicted.

HGH abuse can also lead to cancer, impotence, menstrual irregularities, hypothyroidism (a thyroid gland disorder which leads to a slowed metabolism, depression and can cause the growth of goiters among other symptoms), cardiomyopathy (an inflamed and weakened heart) and arthritis.

Also, while most HGH is now made synthetically, the use of HGH derived from a cadaver can cause the human equivalent of mad-cow disease.

Then there is always the risk of Hepatitis C, HIV and other serious diseases associated with the multiple use and sharing of needles.

None of these things seems worth 15 minutes or less of fame.

I have come to terms with the fact that one of my favorite sports has been tainted basically ever since I started watching, and that the mathematical odds that every World Series champion in the last 20 years has had a steroid user on their team are quite high.

I just hope that the young athletes out there can realize that steroids and HGH are not the answer to beating genetics and while they may seem to get you ahead initially, can only lead to disaster.

The integrity of Major League Baseball can never be repaired, hopefully the lives of our young athletes don't follow the same path.

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Information for this column was taken from the Mitchell Report, which cited numerous scientific and medical writings to back all of its claims. To view a complete version of the Mitchell Report go to http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/news/mitchell/index.jsp.

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Matt Entrup is co-sports editor of The East Oregonian. Write him at mentrup@eastoregonian.com.

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