“Major League baseball has a drug problem again.”– Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated
No Tom, baseball has a drug problem still. Most sports that are played at a high level have a drug problem. In baseball right now, new forms of synthetic testosterone seem to be the popular performance enhancer of choice. In the 90s, the drug of choice was anabolic steroids, leading to the “Steroid Era” where players like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds rewrote the record books. In the 80s the drugs of choice were various types of amphetamines.
As long as humans have engaged in competition, we have been looking for an edge. Performance enhancing drugs provide that age. Somewhere along the way, a line got drawn in the sand where we say, “using external chemicals provides an unfair advantage”. So we call it doping and tut-tut at the people who do it.
Yet we don’t really see just how deep doping runs through many sports. Some sports it’s more obvious. Professional cycling is dealing with the fallout of the USADA/US Postal team report which states that the USPS cycling team engaged in systematic doping. Lance Armstrong has been stripped of 7 Tour de France wins. There’s much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the horror of organized doping in cycling. The accusation is that cycling is a dirty sport. Is it? Or does cycling just catch more dopers due to the type of testing they use?
Jon Goodman of the Personal Training Development Center put out a great opinion on doping in sport. There’s a great deal of truth in his words. As viewers of sport, we are a part of the problem.
Major League baseball has a drug problem again…somehow that implies that it ever truly stopped. Yet a simple read through baseball bios shows that is not the case. We’ve just driven the drug problem into dark corners. We pay out billions globally to watch athletes compete at the highest level, then we turn around and chastise people for fighting to find the edge between a thousandth of a second, victory or defeat. Who’s to blame? Is it the athletes who feel pressure to win? The bosses at various levels who show no mercy for defeat? Or is it the ultimate boss, the fan who pays to see the event.
There’s no good or clear answer. What I do know is this. Baseball has a drug problem. So does every other professional sport out there.