Headlines all over the united states
Steroids in Major League Baseball
Over the past twenty years, the issue of steroids has made headlines all over the United States and has become the biggest problem in Major League Baseball. From an athlete's standpoint, the benefits of steroid use seem well worth the health risk. Steroid use helps to drastically increase muscle growth and strength, which in turn have helped Major League Baseball players perform at a higher level. In the past five years, the widespread use of illegal anabolic steroids in baseball has been exposed making it one of the main issues of Major League Baseball, and so the “steroid age” of baseball was born.
Although steroids may have helped to fuel Major League Baseball's comeback with Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa's unforgettable home run race back in 1998, steroid use and it's exposure is now scarring the face of Major League Baseball. Former MLB slugger and admitted steroid user, Jose Canseco first exposed the problem of steroid abuse to the public in detail with his book Juiced. The book not only claimed that an overwhelming percentage of Major League Baseball players were using steroids, but also specifically accused several MLB superstars of using steroids. At first, the book wasn't taken seriously, with many people seeing the book as just a pathetic attempt by Canseco to make some money. However, once drug testing began in Major League Baseball Canseco's book began to gain credibility in the public's eye.
The reasons for steroid use in baseball and other sports are clear. As professional athletes, most of them will do anything to give themselves an edge over other athletes. Steroids work by mimicking the effects of the body's natural steroid-hormone, testosterone. Testosterone is primarily secreted in the testes of males and also secreted in small amounts in the ovaries of females. The average male has about 20 times the testosterone in their bodies than does the average female. This elevated testosterone level in the male body is mainly responsible for the average difference in physical strength between the sexes. So, when someone injects extra, laboratory-made male hormones into their body, it increases the ability of their body to build new muscle mass. It does this by stimulating cells to produce more protein than they normally would. This increase in protein production allows muscles to heal much faster than they normally would. The adult male body usually requires at least one day of rest in between intense workout in order to heal. However, when somebody is injecting extra testosterone into their body it allows them to heal much faster, meaning they can work out much more often and build muscle mass much faster. This rapid increase in muscle mass will increase ones strength, stamina and speed, thus giving the individual a considerable advantage over other athletes not using steroids.
Despite what Mark McGuire has said about steroids having “nothing” to do with playing baseball, they do help MLB players to become better ballplayers. Although it is true that steroid use will not magically turn anybody into a professional athlete, it does undeniably help already professional athletes to greatly increase their physical strength. This helps these ballplayers to run faster, throw the ball harder as well as hit the ball much further. With no reliable testing policy in Major League Baseball, steroid use quickly began to run rampant in the mid to late 90's. Eventually, it got to a point where it may have seemed to anyone playing MLB that they needed to take steroids just in order to keep up with other MLB athletes. It got to the point that if one didn't use steroids, they would inevitably fall behind.
Throughout the 1990's, more and more MLB athletes began using steroids. According to Jose Canseco in his book Juiced, as much as 80% of Major League Baseball players used steroids at the height of usage (Canseco 34). Shortly before his death back in 2004, Ken Caminiti, the 1996 National League MVP had admitted to using steroids during that MVP season. Although the official cause of death for Caminiti was cardiac arrest due to an overdose of opiates and cocaine, many people speculated over whether or not steroid abuse had contributed in some way to his death (Kindred). Then, baseball fans everywhere were stunned to hear that Baltimore Orioles superstar Raphael Palmeiro, had tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2005 (Bechtel & Cannella). People began to believe that if Palmeiro, one of the games most well respected players was caught taking steroids; the problem began to seem as if it was spiraling out of control.
Currently, anabolic steroid testing in Major League baseball is becoming stricter, though the problems for Major League Baseball are not going away. Over twenty MLB athletes still tested positive for anabolic asteroids in the 2006 season (Betchel & Cannella). Many people have criticized Bud Selig's testing policy, calling it too lenient. The policy has since been made stricter; however the worst of the damage has already been done. The present penalties for steroid use are closely related to those suggested by Congress in 2004 and are greater than their previous regulations. “For steroids, the penalties are a 50-game suspension for the first positive test, 100-game suspension for the second, and a lifetime ban, with reinstatement rights retained by the MLB, for the third,” (Tynes). This new policy went into effect on opening day of the 2006 season.
When the testing became mandatory for everyone any of the game's most popular icons over the past fifteen years have had their careers forever tarnished. Sluggers such as Jason Giambi, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero, Jose Canseco and the all time leader in home runs, Barry Bonds have all been reduced in many fan's minds from superstars to mere cheaters. Now, these once “shoe ins” for the honor of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York may have thrown away any chance of that happening. Though many of the big name players that tested positive for steroids hold records in major league baseball, many baseball fans stripped the players of their credit for them.
Unfortunately for Major League Baseball, much of the damage done to the game's image may never be undone. No professional sports league wants its name to be associated with cheating, but that is the exact situation Major League Baseball is currently in. Although it may seem that steps are being taken to tighten up the testing policy in Major League Baseball, there are new problems arising. There is now much suspicion over how many players may be replacing anabolic steroids with HGH, (Human Growth Hormone) another performance enhancing drug, which currently cannot be tested for by Major League Baseball. The only way to detect HGH is with blood tests, which unfortunately aren't permitted under the current contract that governs the teams and players (Rawlings). Although steps are being taken to rid the sport of performance enhancing drugs, it may be many years before Major League Baseball is once again considered clean.