Steroid Use in Major League Baseball Essay
The constant yearning for athletes to be the best and the greatest has led some sports players to drug use, despite all the health-related risks and legal implications connected to it.
The use of steroids in sports has become widespread over the years that it has raised strong concern from the government and the public in general. This paper maintains that this problem is serious and its cause is deeply rooted in a society that places high regard to winning and being the best at all cost. This attitude causes steroid users to believe that the health risks associated with steroids are minimal compared to the fame and achievement they would attain in their careers and social standing.The use of steroids among sports athletes became commonplace after it was discovered that the substance can enhance physical strength and build muscle tissues. It has been used for such a purpose since the 1950s, although it was not until the 1980s that physicians acknowledged their performance-enhancing capabilities (Dawson, 2001, p.
55). Steroid use has afterwards become rampant among athletes, including several Olympic players, especially those in weightlifting and track and field. The abuse of steroids is also being linked to baseball and football players, bodybuilders, and wrestlers.Mark McGwire revived baseball enthusiasm in 1998 when he broke the record for the most number of home runs in a single season, but currently, his feat is being mired by allegations that he used anabolic steroids during that time.
For years, there have been rumors circulating about steroid use among Major League players, but the issue took off after Jose Canseco, McGwire’s former teammate, wrote a book detailing his life and touching on the subject of steroid use in the professional baseball league. This raises concern over the prevalence of the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball and intensifies the call for action to establish stricter rules covering the use of anabolic steroids in the baseball league.Recently, the United States Congress summoned some Major League players to a series of hearings regarding the matter. Among them are superstars McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Frank Thomas, all of whom did not admit to using steroids during their careers. Also invited to the hearings was Canseco, who previously declared that he “used two varieties of steroids — including pills and needle injections.
He also told publishers he used steroids with, and helped obtain them for, other players…. [He added that] some of the major leaguers he helped procure the drugs for were still playing” (ESPN.com News Services). CNN.com reports that McGwire did admit “there has been a problem with steroid use in baseball.”The public reaction to this issue is strong.
It draws concerns from parents who are aware of the influence that Major League players have on their young children, some of whom have become attracted to the idea of using performance-enhancing drugs to become great athletes themselves and to boost their self-esteem. The issue is also affecting the image of the baseball league, as people are now doubtful of the merits of the record books of Major League Baseball, being tainted by cheating through drug use. During the supposed heyday of steroid use, statistics have improved tremendously. New records were set and kept on being beaten. Clearly, this issue could affect the popularity of this national pastime if no action is done to confront the problem.
Jeff Zillgitt states that “Fifty-six percent of USATODAY.com readers said they would be less interested in baseball if major league stars were identified as using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.”Although steroids are very much associated with sports athletes, they were originally intended for medical purposes as prescription drugs. Doctors prescribe anabolic-androgenic steroids to patients who have hormonal deficiency.
Ideally, these drugs could only be obtained with a prescription from a medical professional, but due to the competitive advantage they offer, steroids have become available through black markets. By definition, anabolic-androgenic steroids are synthetic substances that “promote the growth of skeletal muscle (anabolic effects) and the development of male sexual characteristics (androgenic effects)…. [They] were developed in the late 1930s primarily to treat hypogonadism, a condition in which the testes do not produce sufficient testosterone for normal growth, development and sexual functioning” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2000, p.1). Physicians may also prescribe steroids for people suffering from certain disorders such as anemia, delayed puberty, or even AIDS, and to some people who need to gain weight.
The medical benefits of steroids are due to the anabolic and androgenic effects of testosterone. Anabolic-androgenic steroids work by stimulating the receptors in the muscle cells to produce proteins. The muscle building effects of anabolic steroids are intensified through rigorous strength training (Adam).Numerous athletes see the advantages that anabolic steroids can give them, i.e.
, muscle development, and increased strength, agility and aggressiveness. These substances may be taken orally or through injection, while some are available in the form of gels, patches or creams. Athletes who use steroids to enhance their performance usually take steroids in amounts that are much higher than the normal doses doctors prescribe to patients. Frequent users of steroids typically use the “stacking” pattern, or simultaneous use of several types of steroids, and the “pyramiding” technique, or increasing of the dosage through a 6- to 12-week cycle, to improve the effectiveness of steroids, while at the same time minimizing the side effects of the drugs. The most common types of steroids used by athletes include: Anadrol, Deca-Durabolin, Durabolin, Depo-Testosterone, Equipoise, and Winstrol.
These substances are commercially available through doctor’s prescription, but there are other types of steroids that can be obtained on the black market, including methandriol, ethylestrenol, and methenolone (Adam, 2004).Anabolic steroids can improve sports performance enormously, making them very tempting for baseball players who want to do better on their statistics. However, there are health disadvantages, including damage to the liver, the male reproductive system, and the cardiovascular system, among numerous other side effects (Kulpers). The use of steroids is covered by the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990, which is enforced all over the United States. “It places steroids in the same legal class – Schedule III — as barbiturates, LSD precursors, veterinary tranquilizers like ketamine and narcotic painkillers like Vicodin” (Collins).
Collins also informs that fines range from $1,000 for simple possession to $250,000 for selling the drugs. Offenders could also serve time ranging from a maximum of one year for simple possession, to 10 years imprisonment if convicted for the second time. Even Barry Bonds, slugger of San Francisco Giants, almost like Babe Ruth in skill and popularity, has been branded to use steroids, making him a cheater in the eyes of his fans even though that does not affect him at all. (Teitelbaum, 2006). In another light, according to Kenneth Shropshire, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on both sports business and negotiations, the steroid investigations stirs a union distrust of the owners on ht privacy of the players (Isidore, 2006). Other players such as Jason Grimsley admitted to the use of steroids, growth hormone and other drugs and even named several of his teammates as users too.
Some of their own doctors administer it to them as well (Human Growth Hormone in Baseball, 2006).However, there are people who are not only critical of the House hearings being politically charged, but also of the move to establish stricter control of the game and steroids. Robert Greenslade expresses his disapproval of the Congress action to subpoena players to attend its hearings, saying that “there is no provision of the Constitution that grants Congress the general power to conduct investigations outside of government or compel testimony and document production from an American citizen. Since Congress is a legislative body, its powers relate to matters of a legislative nature.
” Others just think that this is just another attempt by Congress to gain national exposure, and is just a waste of taxpayers’ money.Stephen Rather believes, however, that the House has a right to subpoena the witnesses so long as it abides by the constitution and the U.S. Code Title 2. Also, even if the political intentions are questionable to some, there could be justifiable cause for the congress hearings. For one, it draws people’s attention to the magnitude of the problem and the urgency to come up with viable solutions.
Already the Major League Baseball and the Baseball Players’ Union have agreed on a set of new and stricter policies to deal with the steroid use problem in the sport (Dobkowski, 2005). Unlike the previous provision, the new rules are intended to charge stronger penalties to violators. In this new effort, the baseball league hopes to deter usage of steroids with several random drug tests throughout the year, instead of the previous policy of just one drug test per year.Dobkowski believes that these new policies are good in some respect, although like any other policies, there would be loopholes. For instance, even with the multiple drug tests that will be conducted, it would be hard for the policing body to implement this during off-season, when some players could be away from the country.
There is also the concern that the new policies are only concentrated on steroids, whereas some players are thought to be also using other forms of performance-enhancing drugs, says Dobkowski. Problems related to drugs are always difficult to handle and the issue involving professional players is no exception. Dobkowski also points to the problem that offenders are oftentimes one-step ahead of the pursuers, making them hard to apprehend.The increased attention on the steroid use problem in the Major League has prompted concerned officials to formulate new measures to stop the problem. There may be arguments against the Congress’ move to subpoena Major League players, but the more important point is that drug use is considered illegal by law and should therefore be punishable accordingly.
It is important to note what are at stake here: First, the survival of the game, the game that Americans once love the most; and secondly, the effect that this would have on children and baseball enthusiasts who look up to Major League players as role models. Not taking any strong actions to fight the problem could mean serious trouble for the sport and could ruin the image of professional baseball overall. Sports figures have often been the advocates of “say-no-to-drugs” campaigns, but with this recent scandal, it becomes confusing and disappointing to impressionable minds.Athletes have also been developing new ways to bypass testing, including procuring doctor’s prescription for steroids and passing through laboratory testing without getting caught. In a report from 60 Minutes Wednesday, it was found out that three Carolina Panthers players who played in the Super Bowl in 2004 had prescriptions for steroids, and that they “repeatedly refilled their prescriptions – in one case, 10 times” (Cooper, 2005). The National Football League has been known to comply with the rules against steroid use and abuse, having suspended several professional players in the past.
Unfortunately, the recent investigation indicates some shortcomings in its system since the players who possessed the prescriptions for steroids did not appear in its list of players that tested positive.Looking into the roots of the steroid-abuse problems would lead us to conclude that it is society’s pressure on individuals to pursue greatness, to outdo competitors, and to win at all costs that has pushed athletes to steroid use. As it may be difficult or even impossible to immediately change the general attitude of society towards winning and losing in life, emphasis should be given on the ethical issues surrounding performance-enhancing drugs.Sports are supposed to demonstrate fair competition. They are designed to inspire people through various examples of triumphs of the human spirit, made possible through long trials and perseverance.
Steroids are obviously destroying this ideal when they give some undue advantage to some players who care not to follow the rules of the game. Sports and steroids do not blend well. At the root of it all, their purpose and intentions are in opposition to each other.There is no need to stress the illegality of drugs such as steroids. What is more important is to reiterate that the drug problem in the United States has been going on for so long.
People do not need heroes and role models who will lead them to ruin and who are willing to cheat just to be recognized. The issue of steroid use in Major League Baseball may have taught players valuable lessons as to how drugs can not only ruin their health and well-being, but also destroy their reputation and bring them public humiliation.