Sports have often been used for the purpose of leisure and economic benefits for quite a long period of time. Nevertheless, the idea of players using banned substances has resulted to an ongoing debate about the validation of these substances especially in Major League Baseball since 1990’s (Teitelbaum 4). In the most recent years, several players have stepped forward to admit that the use of banned drugs, particularly steroids is widespread in baseball. The major question that this debate seeks to answer is which action should be taken on players who are found guilty of steroid use.
Presently, almost all the existing sports in the world are advanced. Moreover, the integration of technological advancements has really improved the dexterity of sports. Nevertheless, many athletes in all manner of sports have fallen into the temptation of using steroids so as to gain fame and other material things. In the contemporary world, professional sports require athletes to be very talented. Therefore most of them are usually ready to do anything so as to ensure that they can get the edge in the game. In some cases, they even do things which might put their lives and careers at risk. In baseball, it is believed that steroids can make an individual to hit the ball further.
As earlier mentioned, the use of steroids in baseball has generated a contentious debate for several decades. This debate is not only focused on the negative effects of steroids but also on the issue of unfair competition among baseball teams and the players themselves. Research indicates that even though steroids help to enhance performance, they also produce appalling negative side effects on individuals. This paper seeks to underscore the use of steroids in the Major League Baseball in America and its impacts to both the player and the game. It also seeks to establish which actions should be taken on baseball players who are found guilty of using steroids, and whether it is right to bring to the limelight former Major League Baseball stars who have admitted to be involved in steroid use.
A steroid can be defined as a terpenoid lipid that is characterized by a sterane core and other additional functional groups (Cohen 31). The core of a steroid is formed by a carbon structure which is composed of four fused rings. Three of these rings are cyclohexane rings while the other one is a cyclopentane ring. Steroids differ depending on the oxidation states of these rings and the functional groups which are attached to them. Anabolic steroids, which are officially referred to as anabolic androgenic steroids (or AAS) are drugs that ape the effects of the male hormone testosterone. In its normal state, testosterone promotes and enhances the growth and development of body muscles. When normal testosterone is therefore supplemented with steroids, it amplifies the development of muscle mass, reduces body fats and enhances endurance. Steroids are mostly used by athletes so that they can try to have an edge in any competition.
Some of the general advantages of steroids as stated above include: augmentation of muscle development, reduction of body fats and increased endurance during an exercise or during a competition. Nevertheless, these advantages vary from one sport to another. For instance, the advantages that are derived from using steroids in wrestling and boxing are quite different from the advantages of using them in athletics and other long endurance sports like baseball. Baseball players, wrestlers and boxers usually use steroids so that they can increase their muscle development and gain aggressiveness, while athletes use steroids to enhance their endurance and increase their confidence and strength. The main advantage of using steroids however is that they usually lead to increased duration in the process of protein synthesis for as long as the athletes continue to train even after ending their careers (Pearlman 96).
In spite of these advantages, the use of steroids has been illegitimated for quite a long period of time because it gives some athletes more advantage over the others, thus translating to unfair competition. Consequently, it is imperative for the Major League Baseball to do thorough investigation before allowing back to the game former baseball players who are suspected or found guilty of using steroids. These players should be suspended or even banned from participating in any competitions. In addition, those who won any titles should be dispossessed these titles if it is established that they acquired them because of using steroids. Nevertheless, such players may be brought into limelight so that they can be used to educate the existing players on the consequences of using steroids and the negative impacts that this practice can bring to their careers and the face of the entire game. As aforementioned, professional sports calls for athletes to be very talented and therefore, most of them usually engage in flawed activities so that they can enhance their performance. According to Professor Mehlman, biomedical advancement has really threatened the morality of fairness in sports (211). He therefore claims that performance enhancement drugs (abbreviated as PEDs) should be allowed to be used by all athletes. Nevertheless, he proposes that their use should be regulated so that some athletes do not overuse and abuse them and even become addicted.
It is important to note that the main reason why many athletic bodies in the world have not legalized the use of steroids is because of the unfairness that these drugs bring about in competitions. Moreover, steroids have relatively many side effects and disadvantages as compared to their advantages. The side effects of steroids range from physical to psychological. From a physical point of view, steroids can make an individual to experience all kinds of changes. Even though they help an individual to increase his muscle weight and endurance, they correspondingly produce side effects which include severe problems like cancer, liver damage and other cardiovascular diseases. Other side effects include: testicular atrophy or shrinking, excessive growth or loss of hair and skin conditions among many others. From a psychological point of view, steroids can produce a variety of feelings that range from the feeling of well-being to the feeling of depression. They also produce mood swings in individuals and the feeling of rage which is sometimes referred to as ‘roid rage’. Other undesirable psychological effects include the development of immense violence and aggression which can sometimes lead to death (Pearlman 102).
The problems that are associated with steroid use also vary depending on the sexual orientation of an individual. For instance, the use of steroids by women can lead to the development of cervical cancer, osteoporosis, enlargement of the clitoris, and growth of masculine hair. Research has also confirmed that women athletes who use steroids are more likely to affect the growth and development of their children. In most cases, children who are born of these women are usually shorter than normal. For men, the disadvantages of using steroids include: increased risk of getting prostate cancer, problems of sperm count, and the growth of breasts especially in splinters, weight lifters, wrestlers and boxers.
The reward of using steroids is derived from its quick avenue for increased performance, augmented muscle mass and increased endurance. It also produces the feeling of invincibility in individuals. Nevertheless, the risk is quite enormous because it produces permanent physical morbidity and psychotic events such as rapid mood swings, violence and aggression. Steroids can also produce the feelings of depression and suicidal attempts. Therefore, the reward is actually almost absolutely not worth it. Surprisingly, athletes continue to abuse steroids for the quick and temporal gain of fame and fortune. In baseball for instance, it is believed that the use of steroids can lead an individual to the path of fame and fortune (Lewis 335-340).
Evidence about the use of steroids in baseball has been given by several investigators and some Major League Baseball players through direct speeches and even in the print media. In deed, several former stars have written about their involvement in the use of steroids. For instance, David Wells affirmed that about forty percent of players in the Major League Baseball use these drugs. On the other hand, Jose Canseco states in his tell-all book that close to eighty percent of baseball players use steroids (28). He also credits the use of steroids for his great performance in his entire baseball career. Ken Caminiti has also revealed that he was on steroid use when he was crowned with the National League MVP award in 1996. In 2009, some claims emerged that Alex Rodriguez had earlier on, in 2003, tested positive for steroids, and this is the same year in which he was crowned the American League MVP. These claims reveal that Rodriguez admitted to have been using performance enhancement drugs between the year 2001 and 2003. Another baseball player who has been dodging the allegations of using PEDs for quite sometime is Mark McGwire, but recently, he admitted that he has been using them sporadically for over a decade. He even admitted that he was using these drugs in 1998, the year in which he set a single-season home run record (Cohen 24-30).
Consequently, the use of steroids raises five big questions concerning their use in baseball. The first question is concerned with the advantages and disadvantages of using steroids in baseball. The second question seeks to find out whether it is right to bring back into the sports limelight former baseball players who have been found guilty of using steroids in the past. The third question focuses on the ethical dimension, and on the consequences and effects that might arise if such players are actually allowed back to the game. The fourth question seeks to establish the interests that might be generated from such a course, while the last one seeks to establish which organizations might be in the limelight. The subsequent discussion seeks to address the last four questions since the first question has been tackled in the preceding section.
The idea of bringing back into the sports limelight former Major League Baseball stars who have admitted to have been using steroids should be well thought of for the sake of the glory of the game, and for future generations if not for posterity. Stakeholders should clearly analyze the consequences of such an action before putting it in place. Head-on approach may complicate the entire goodwill idea, but the truth must be on the forefront even though a few people are ready to accept this fact. There are many legal and moral issues and consequences that may accompany such an action such as lawful suits of defamation by an individual or his family which may follow any exposure (Radomski 48-50). On the other hand, it may take so much time to convince former stars and/or their family members to consent for the exposure of such individuals. This is because such an action may lower the esteem of such players and taint their dignities.
The issue of steroids in the Major League Baseball is very controversial and the opinions of all the game stakeholders such as the baseball clubs, the media, coaches and the players themselves may cause unprecedented reactions. Some stakeholders believe that it is not right to expose former players who have been found guilty of using steroids since it is like washing the proverbial dirty linen in public. Others, who are of the same opinion, oppose such a move because exposing them might impact negatively on their business operations within this sport. On the other hand, many fans and Anti-Doping agencies support the idea of exposing such players as the first step towards solving the winding problems within and without Major League Baseball. Fans and parents usually expect professional athletes to be role models to other people especially the young generation. It is ironic that baseball steroid scandals have escalated the use of steroids in adults and teenagers instead of leading to a decline in their use (Radomski 53). It is therefore important to note that the idea of exposing and bringing back to the game former players who are found guilty of using steroids holds different opinions among key stakeholders. For business people, this might be a big blow because this idea might make fans to lose their confidence in the game and therefore this will translate to low business since there will be no fans in stadiums. This move can also lower the integrity and dignity of the associated players, their teams and the coaches of these teams.
The primary issue of this debate is focused on the integrity and the general outcome of bringing these players to the limelight. Nevertheless, the intention of this publicity should be well defined so as to shun away from the emerging controversies (Roberts 6). As such, the objectives of this move should be properly explicated to all the stakeholders within this game. Lobbying and research are necessary for the purpose of minimizing the existing controversial issues such as the reasons for bringing these players to the limelight or not. The ethical stand that is often closely linked to the use of steroids is defamation and the loss of integrity of the Major League Baseball. This is because baseball is actually the second most admired sport in the US after basketball. Nevertheless, the truth must be put on the forefront and in particular, drug testing and monitoring agencies should be put on board to explain what they have been doing and what they are doing to stop the use of anabolic steroids and other prohibited drugs in sports.
Within the summer of 2003, an anonymous person sent a mysterious liquid to the USADA which turned out to be Tetrahydrogestrinone, an undetectable steroid that is commonly used by some of the top athletes in the world (Lewis 327). Later on, it was revealed that the steroid was submitted to the USADA by Trevor Graham, who was a sprint coach to some of the world’s best sprinters. This marked the beginning of the era of the use of steroids in baseball. It was later on established that a chemist known as Patrick Arnold was the one responsible for the development of that steroid in the BALCO labs. In addition, the name of Barry Bond was mentioned as one of the biggest clients of BALCO. Towards the end of 2004, the testing of steroid began under the new collective bargaining agreement of MLB. Barry Bonds went through several random tests before winning his seventh league MVP that year. Several years later, many athletes have been linked to the use of anabolic steroids and BALCO. Several athletes have admitted to have been using steroids while others claim their innocence (Lewis 328-329). The integrity of organizations such as the BALCO should be put to the limelight and be thoroughly investigated for actually spoiling the game. Other leading international anti-doping agencies should also be put to task to scrutinize statutes and regulations that govern the use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.
Accordingly, bringing to the limelight former baseball players who have been indulging in steroid use would be a bold step that will put these agencies on board for their laxity in implementing the necessary laws against steroid use. This explains why it is necessary to properly and vividly define the goals and objectives of bringing to limelight the players who have been found guilty of using steroids. This step will enable sports management authorities and students within the faculty of sports to re-examine the law that is associated with drug usage in sports. As such the element of sacrifice in baseball and the institutionalization of special laws, policies and regulations will be put into assessment (Thornton 617).
As already stated, opinions with regard to this subject differ from one stakeholder to another. Stakeholders may differ or agree depending on whether they are going to gain or not. For instance, anti-doping agencies and fans of the game advocate for the exposure of former players who are found guilty of using steroids so as to maintain the high status of the game. In the previous decade, the World Anti-Doping agency has been trying to oppose and fight the use of steroids and other performance enhancement drugs and therefore this may be the opportune time for them to expose the rot that has been concealed in this game.
In the year 2007, George Mitchell, a former US Senator, released a 409 page report on the use of steroids in baseball, which was compiled after an intensive investigation that went on for twelve months. This report exposed 89 baseball-related cases of individuals who were using steroids. Even though several athletes admitted to have been using anabolic steroids, a majority of them denied this fact. Subsequent years after 2007 have witnessed the establishment of much more proof against many MLB players, with most of them asking for apologies. One of the great players who admitted to have been using steroids is Canseco Jose, who is now working handy with several anti-doping agencies to educate young people about the dangers of anabolic steroids, their side effects and other effects of abusing them (Cohen 35). Baseball players who are found guilty of using steroids should emulate the example of Canseco Jose and other bold players like Alex Rodriguez who have admitted publicly to have been using steroids and are now educating other people, especially the youth about the negative effects of steroids on both their bodies and the game. By doing so, they will distinguish themselves as lovers of the game and showcase their effort in trying to fight and adapt to new statutes and laws that are meant to subvert and possibly abolish the usage of these drugs (Stadler 76).
It is imperative that former baseball players who have been found guilty of using performance enhancement drugs be brought to the limelight for the sake of safeguarding the image of the game, helping them to reform, and for the purpose of educating upcoming players about the risks of using these drugs and about the ethics of the game. Even though this action may contravene the ethical considerations, professionalism and the already established baseball regulations concerning steroid use, it is necessary to be undertaken because the use of these drugs brings about unfairness in competitions on the part of the innocent players. In addition, even though opposing the whole idea of not exposing these players will do more good to the game than the contrary since the respect of the game will be maintained and therefore not taint the progress and the benefits of the sport business, on the other hand, such an action will continue to perpetuate unfairness in the game. In particular, this might lead to the continued use of steroids and possibly add unfair records to the record book.
In conclusion, the bottom line is quite simple: players should play the game the way it was designed to be played. They should play with pride, honor and dignity, and most of all; they should refrain from using steroids because it is actually not worth it (Slosar 123). In addition, the use of steroids should not be accepted in baseball for the sole reason that it enhances unfairness in competitions. Former players who are found guilty of using steroids should be exposed to the public so that this can serve as an example to other upcoming players that it is against the ethics of the game to use these drugs. Nevertheless, this should be done out of good faith in collaboration with these players so that they can be used to educate the upcoming players about the disadvantages of such drugs. Even though the use of steroids might have some advantages, their disadvantages overwhelm these advantages and this should be properly elaborated to the athletes who are using them or intend to use them. Athletes should be encouraged to use their own strength and effort in competitions so that they don’t have an unfair advantage over others due to the use of steroids and other performance enhancement drugs. The move to suspend athletes who use these drugs should continue to be enforced. In addition, those who are found guilty of using these drugs and who hold some titles should be snatched these titles.