Social Issues / Steroids In Baseball

Steroids In Baseball

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Autor:  anton  02 December 2010
Tags:  Steroids,  Baseball
Words: 1796   |   Pages: 8
Views: 447

In recent years it has become overwhelmingly obvious that steroids have been present in most American sports. Though steroid use is a problem in all sports, it has been acknowledged mostly in Major League Baseball, probably due to the commissioner’s lax opinion of the drugs. But despite the beliefs of any baseball authority, steroid use is undoubtedly an act of cheating and is a matter that needs to be resolved with this country’s judicial system.

Everyone has heard of steroids, but many people do not know exactly what they are. Natural steroids play a key role in the body processes of living things. They are naturally produced by plants and animals, and are used for various reasons. Steroids include sterols, such as cholesterol, bile acids from the liver, adrenal hormones, sex hormones, and poisons in certain toads. Sex steroids in humans give men and women the characteristics that make up the sex, such as the type of voice, and the physical build. Adrenal steroids, produced in the cortex of the adrenal gland in humans, regulate protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Aldosterone, another steroid produced in the adrenal cortex, plays a role in the mineral and water balance of the body.

Anabolic steroids are commercially produced by chemical methods from the male hormone testosterone. Artificial steroids were first developed for medical purposes during World War II (1939-1945) by the German army. The Germans gave it to their soldiers to make them more aggressive in combat. After the war, doctors in Europe and the U.S. used steroids to treat anemia, malnutrition, and to help patients recover faster from surgery.

Then, in the 1940s, artificial steroids began to enter the athletic world. Body builders in Eastern Europe were taking testosterone in various forms. In the 1950s, athletes used the anabolic steroids to improve their performance in international competition. With the government's approval, coaches in the Soviet Union gave the lab-produced steroids to their athletes, mainly of whom were weight-lifters and shot-putters. When other athletes around the world noticed the Soviets' winning records (Soviet weight-lifters won seven medals at the 1952 Olympics), athletes in many countries began to experiment with steroid use.

In 1956, American doctor John B. Ziegler worked with a drug company to produce anabolic steroids in the United States. Soon after, American athletes, particularly football players, began using steroids as early as the 1960s. The health dangers of steroids were not yet recognized, and athletes obtained steroids legally from their team doctors. When state laws against steroid use were passed in the 1960s, a black market for the artificial testosterone quickly developed. Steroids eventually found their way into school athletics, at both the college and high school levels. During the 1980s, steroid use spread outside the athletic world. Recently the use of steroids has been increasing amongst non-athletes for various reasons.

Business Weekly published a study performed by the University of Illinois School of Public Health in which the results were shocking. According to Paul Goldstein, the chief investigator, individuals from all walks of life have admitted to the use of steroids. He stated, "We're finding firemen, students, lawyers, teachers- people from all economic classes--most of them taking the drugs for cosmetic reasons." All of these individuals had admitted to use because of the positive effects the steroids provide for their appearance. Along with these positive effects also come the negative ones. Symptoms such as acne, psychotic states, paranoia, headaches, high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes, and liver and kidney damage with quite a lengthy list of other harmful side effects related to extensive use. According to Dr. Robert Vow in his book Drugs, Sports, and Politics, along with trying to keep competitions fair and equal for all who entered, these were the main reason that anabolic steroids have been banned from the Olympics since the 1976 games. But it wasn’t until 2005, 29 years after the Olympic ban that a rule was placed in Major League Baseball against the use of anabolic steroids.

It is still in debate what exactly the consequences will be for players using these performance enhancing drugs. We now know what it takes to break through the institutional indifference of Major League Baseball to the drug abuse among its players, including its biggest stars. It takes a U.S. attorney with subpoena power and determination to break up a criminal distribution system called BALCO. It takes a pusher-turned-snitch, who, facing federal charges, admitted he had supplied illegal steroids to some famous customers. The clients, including Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, were called before a San Francisco grand jury. Though each publicly denied illegal steroid use, when their testimony was leaked to The San Francisco Chronicle, it was a completely different story. Giambi admitted using steroids. Bonds said he did too, but not intentionally. One sports columnist labeled that story "snake oil” or a way to lessen the severity of their crimes and perhaps get the journalists off there backs. But it seams as if Major League Baseball has engulfed itself in a never ending string of controversy, and as each day passes the issue is being dealt with using more and more government involvement.

President Bush made an uncharacteristic departure in his State of the Union to warn about steroid use. One might assume he saw it up close when he was part-owner of the Texas Rangers. Also, Sen. John McCain has warned that he will introduce drug-testing legislation in January if baseball does not act. While football, track and other sports have moved to arrest illegal doping, baseball has been all but indifferent. No major-league player was tested until 2003, and it was only once on a pre-announced date. No team has ever exercised the "reasonable cause" provision in every contract, not the Yankees for Giambi, the Giants for Bonds or any other bulked-up player.

Cynics say it doesn't really matter. Steroids are ubiquitous and omnipresent in baseball. Just by watching the changes in their bodies, any intelligent fan would reasonably assume Giambi and Bonds were on steroids. With prime-time television awash in advertising for products to chemically enhance sexual performance, why shouldn't a baseball player add strength to chase dollars and records? Why shouldn't the public just enjoy each season's home-run chase? These points have been heard and fans will always come to the same conclusion, that the use of steroids is irresponsible and iniquitous. If steroids were allowed or unacknowledged in baseball it would undoubtedly become the norm, and players would be forced to destroy there bodies with these drugs to compete with the other players.

There is also a certain vicarious liability that these players are confronted with while using the drugs. If a professional skateboarder can be sued when a fan attempts to mimic his tricks, why cannot

professional baseball players be sued when their fans begin to use steroids. In 1998, after Mark McGwire shattered the homerun record while using the substance andro, sales of the substance skyrocketed. However the scary part is that it is very doubtful that 30 year old men were purchasing the substance. In 1991 a census report showed that 0.9% of 8th graders and 1.1% of 12th graders had ever used steroids. In 1999 3.6% of 8th graders and 3.9% of 12th graders admitted to using steroids. This means that steroid use is on a steady incline among children, and most young people who have experimented with the substance have experimented since before the 8th grade.

In high schools today, coaches watch their players devour muscle magazines and spend exorbitant sums buying nutrition supplements. These supplements are presumably legal, but they also may be the functional equivalent of a gateway drug. "When does nutrition cross the line into steroids?" asks Mr. Hill, Olympia’s high school football coach. To stem the tide, coaches show films provided by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of former pro-football player Lyle Alzado, as he crusaded against drug use before he died of brain cancer which he blamed on the effects of steroids. Right now, however, from the point of view of the kids, juicing looks like it's worth the risk. Mainly due to America’s infatuation with a quick fix, just think of the endless amount of dietary pills and techniques that promise a smaller waist line with little or no exercise.

Illegal drug use in one form or another has vexed Major League Baseball for a long time. In 1985, commissioner Peter Ueberroth wanted testing when the issue was cocaine. More recently, former commissioner Fay Vincent said, "If George Steinbrenner didn't know Giambi was using steroids when he signed him, he was the only one."

It is not hard to see what needs to be done: random, unannounced tests year-round, including the off-season, as in the minor leagues. President Bush has already appointed a close friend and former Texas Ranger partner as his representative in discussions between the commissioner's office and the players' union. Sen. McCain is waiting. In March, he warned baseball officials that their sport was in danger of becoming "a fraud in the eyes of the American people." Commissioner Bud Selig has said that if he can't get the players' association to agree, he will welcome federal intervention.

It has taken nearly a half a century for the MLB to even acknowledge the problem, and now that they have, a consequence must be placed. The only player suspended so far was Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez, he was suspended for just 10 days without pay. A second offence would result in a 30 day suspension, third would be 60 days, and fourth would be one year. But many believe that is no where near enough. Major League Baseball needs to be more stringent in enforcing the rules against the use of steroids. A slap on the wrist for abusers only encourages others to take chances. "Three strikes and you're out" has never worked in any situation. Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling believes that the first offence should result in a 6 month suspension, followed by 2 years, and the third suspension would be indefinite. While others such as baseball journalist David Kent believe a first offence should result in a 1 year suspension and the second be indefinite.

It is great that Major League Baseball has finally enforced a ban on steroid use, but there in lies another problem. Chemists all over are making masking agents to hide the presence of steroid use. Of course it wont be long before the MLB will find a way to detect these masking agents, but something else will undoubtedly come up to keep the junkies in the clear. A pharmacological game of cat-and-mouse is going on in sports, and I highly doubt that we will see an end in the near future.

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