When O.J. Didn't Have His Game Face

New York Magazine, July 24, 1995

Did 0. J. Simpson murder Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman as a result of a chronic steroid addiction? The evidence for this theory - strangely overlooked by both the prosecution and defense - is compelling. According to a confidante of A. C. Cowlings, Simpson began abusing anabolic steroids during his football career and has been taking cortisone for pain ever since. If Simpson were indeed addicted to these drugs, it would help explain how a genial and popular man could have violently murdered two people. According to Harvard Medical School forensic psychiatrist Dr. Harold Bursztajn, abuse of these drugs is known to cause sudden bouts of violence and amnesia. Even stopping the medicine abruptly, Bursztajn points out, may result in "depression, paranoia, and fluctuating psychotic breaks." Though the LAPD lab tested Simpson's blood for eight substances including cocaine and heroin, it concedes it never tested for steroids. Says Dr. Bursztajn: "Longtime steroid use or abuse can't be found unless you test for it specifically." But evidence of Simpson's possible drug problem shows up in much of the trial testimony. Limo driver Allan Park testified that Simpson was "hot" and demanded both air-conditioning and open windows on the way to the airport the night of the murders even though it was a mild evening. Cortisone abuse, according to experts, often causes excessive sweating. On the flight to Chicago, Simpson went to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, a flight attendant later reported to the police. "Even if he had stopped using steroids abruptly, he would pee and pee and drink and drink [water]," says Dr. Bursztajn. And finally, on the evening of the Bronco "chase," defense lawyer Robert Shapiro called in steroid specialist Dr. Robert Huizenga when Simpson was feared suicidal. Since then, the former L.A. Raiders team doctor has been Simpson's personal physician.