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Baseball and Steroids- The Controversy

There has been a lot of controversy about steroids in baseball. Does it enhance performance and what are the side effects. Are records today the result of steroids. And are athletes harming themselves.

First of all, we need to understand what is a steroid. And why do players use it. Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone in it’s normal state promotes and boosts muscle development and growth. When it is supplemented with steroids, you have an increase of muscle mass, reduction of body fat, and enhanced endurance. It is used by athletes to try to have the edge on the competition. It is believed that by using a steroid in baseball it will cause you to hit the ball further. And longer.

What are some of the side effects? They range from psychologically to physically. From a psychological standpoint, they can range from a feeling of well-being to depression. Mood swings. And even rage. Sometimes called ‘roid rage’. Other adverse psychological effects can include intense aggression and violence.

From a physical standpoint, you can have all kinds of changes. You will have increased muscle mass and increased endurance, but the side effects can include a plethora of problems. The worst being liver damage, and cancer. You can have acne, excessive hair growth or loss. Testicular atrophy (shrinking), etc.

What is the reward vs. risk? The reward being a quick avenue for increased muscle mass, increased performance, and increased endurance. A feeling of invincibility. The risk is permanent physical morbidity and psychotic episodes that include aggression, violence, and rapid mood swings. Also feelings of depression and suicide. Is the reward worth it? Absolutely not! Yet it is abused by athletes today for the quick gain of fortune and fame. It is believed that by using a steroid in baseball it will lead you down the path of fortune and fame.

There has been a lot of controversy whether Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds or Gary Sheffield and others have used a steroid in baseball. There is the infamous BALCO incident where there are accusations that Barry’s long time friend Greg Anderson was supplying Barry with an untrackable steroid, sometimes called “the cream” or “the clear”. Which raised a lot of questions in the baseball world. Did they use a steroid in baseball and is there proof it enhanced their game? We can draw several conclusions from this.

First off, is there any proof that a steroid in baseball has enhanced the record book with unfair records. At this time, no. We have to remember a couple of things before trying to point fingers, etc. Barry Bonds went on to have an unbelievable season setting a single season record of home runs that will probably never be surpassed in my mind. This happened from a guy that usually averaged around 35 homers a season. Can you explain the sudden jump in home runs? Probably not. But you can make the assumption that he has matured to the top of his game and that he had a dream season.

Now, let’s look at Roger Maris. When Roger went on to hit 61 home runs from a guy that usually never hit that many. Did everyone in the world suddenly start saying there must be a steroid in baseball that he is using? Or he must be doing something to enhance his game. No they did not. They assumed that he just had a magical season that only comes around ever so often. Can we draw the same conclusions about Barry, and about Mark? Yes, we can. Could it be that they had magical seasons? Absolutely.

Until the evidence comes out, we don’t know what any athlete is doing. What I do know as a former major leaguer is how difficult it is to perform at such a high level day in and day out. In my mind, whether they are doing steroids or not, you still have to hit the ball over the fence. You still have to make solid contact consistently. You still have to have great fundamentals. I think what has happened on the baseball field has been remarkable and we are lucky to be able to witness such great athletes perform daily.

Steroids in my mind take away from the game. Even though they provide a quick explosion of muscle mass and endurance, over the long run, they will harm you. They will cause psychotic events, and physical damage that will last a life time. The bottom line is simple. Play the game the way it is meant to be played. Play with honor and pride and dignity. And above all, leave steroids out of it.Using a steroid in baseball is simply not worth it.

Are Steroids In Baseball illegal?

The pharmaceutical anabolic steroids are believed to have been inadvertently discovered by German scientists in the early 1930s. Anabolic steroids or androgenic steroids are the synthetic derivatives of testosterone that promote muscle and bone growth. These steroids are medically used to treat uncontrolled weight loss in wasting diseases.
However, these steroids are often used by bodybuilders, athletes, and sports persons to increase their muscle mass, strength, and stamina. The first known use of anabolic steroid— testosterone propionate was mentioned in US weightlifting/bodybuilding magazine, Strength and Health magazine in 1938.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation, now the International Association of Athletics Federations, became the first international governing body of sport to ban anabolic steroids in sports. These drugs were banned by FIFA, Union Cycliste Internationale (cycling), and International Olympic Committee in 1966-67.

However, Major League Baseball remained lenient about the use of steroids in baseball. The use of steroids in baseball became hotly debatable in the mid 1990s. Steroids in baseball became hot subject of sports news, magazines, and rumors. Though, a 1988 US federal law declared the use and distribution of anabolic steroid drugs for nontherapeutic illegal, Major League Baseball did not test for steroids in baseball until 2003.
The was a drastic rise in home runs since 1995 that greatly contributed to strengthening the influence of steroids in baseball; Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds had all stunningly surpassed the home run record set by Roger Maris – whose 61 homers in 1961 had not been challenged in over 30 years.
Often, post 1994 period is referred to as “Steroids Era.” There were a number of stories on steroids in baseball. The first evidence of steroids in baseball came out when a bottle of a nutritional supplement was found in Mark McGwire´s locker; the bottle was found containing Androstendione, a prohormone. Ken Caminiti revealed to Sports Illustrated that he won the 1996 NL MVP award while on steroids. He also revealed that 50% of the players in the league were using steroids. In a book published during steroids in baseball imbroglio, Jose Canseco admitted using steroids and also revealed that 85% of all players in MLB were using steroids.

The fact was “eye-opener” for MLB. The Journalists Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada exposed the BALCO scandal associated with steroids in baseball & other sports in 2003. The nutrition center BALCO, was accused of distributing steroids to many star players, like Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago, Jeremy Giambi, Bobby Estalella, and Armando Rios.

The most famous instances of steroids in baseball are that of Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, who were suspected of using anabolic steroids in baseball. Giambi admitted before a U.S. grand jury that he used a duo of undetectable steroids known respectively as “the cream” and “the clear.” He also admitted that he received the drugs from his personal trainer Greg Anderson during the 2003 season. On the other hand, Bonds revealed that his trainer told him the substances were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a pain-relieving balm for his arthritis.

The Major League Baseball conducted random testing steroids in baseball in 2003. The League toughened its policies a bit on the use of steroids in baseball. The players, such as Ryan Franklin and others were suspended for ten days, but a Congressional panel argued that the penalties were not tough enough, and took action. Thus, several top players, such as Rafael Palmeiro, McGwire, Sosa, Canseco and Curt Schilling were testified in front of Congress on March 17, 2005. Congress has been continuously pressuring MLB for instituting a comprehensive testing policy for its players.

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