Last week, 12 Major League Baseball players agreed to 50-game suspensions with no appeal after being caught in the Biogenesis scandal, the latest performance-enhancing drug case to rock professional sports.
The most high-profile player, Alex Rodriguez, will be suspended for the rest of this season and all of the 2014 season, but he will be allowed to appeal and will also be allowed to continue playing until the appeal is heard.
According to ESPN, the use of PED’s first began in the late 1980s in major league baseball, but documented usage in other major sports began in earnest in the 1940s and ’50s.
Weightlifers were notorious for “juicing,” numerous Olympic athletes have been disqualified over the years, and the disgrace last year of former cyclist Lance Armstrong proved that even some of the most well-respected athletes, who repeatedly denied using steroids, were in fact guilty.
In July, an Arena Football League player said an estimated 30 percent of the players in the AFL use steroids, a comment that “surprised” many coaches.
Back in 2005, Jose Canseco wrote a book, “Juiced,” in which he blew the whistle on former teammates, which prompted congressional hearings and suspensions of high-profile players, affecting records and their Hall of Fame eligibility.
So why are we still having these discussions and investigations eight years later? Could it have anything to do with the amount of money in professional sports and the high stakes involved in protecting players?
Athletes over the years have accused coaches of doping them, throughout a cross-section of collegiate and professional sports, and then tossing them aside when their usefulness to the team came to an end. But surely in this day and time, with the dangers and effects of long-term steroid use well documented, sports fans and organizations would never put up with teams winning on the backs of players using performance-enhancing drugs.
Has our culture become so obsessed with money and winning at any cost that players’ safety is considered to be a secondary concern? Or is that question merely redundant?