This Week's Debate: Performance - Enhancing Drugs

The buzz about performance-enhancing drugs is back in anticipation of the March 27 release of Game of Shadows, a book detailing alleged steroid use by baseball superstar Barry Bonds. The issue is of such great concern that Congress held hearings about it last year, and given the allegations in this book, might take up the issue again soon.

Some of the testimony given to members of Congress last March was less than encouraging. Jose Canseco testified that steroids were perfectly acceptable in baseball throughout the 1980s and early '90s. Mark McGwire repeatedly refused to talk about "the past," saying "my lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family and myself." Rafael Palmeiro denied having ever used steroids, only to test positive six weeks later -- leading Congress to investigate his testimony. Palmeiro served a short suspension for the offense in August.

This week's Debate will focus on the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in sports. The next post will feature just the facts -- all the information we'll need to have a good understanding of what these drugs are and how they affect athletes.

Over the coming days, we'll debate the effect of performance-enhancing drugs on the sports in which they're used, as well as the pressure this puts on athletes who play by the rules. We'll look at what this kind of drug use means to the fans -- can a steroid user be a good role model? We may attempt to determine why performance-enhancing drugs are more common in some sports than in others. At the end of the week, we will consider the penalties and punishments for athletes who test positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Debaters, I'd love to know what other aspects of this issue you'd like to address this week.

By Emily Messner |  March 13, 2006; 10:04 AM ET  | Category:  This Week's Issue
Previous: How Will We Know if It's Civil War? | Next: The Facts: Performance - Enhancing Drugs

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http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/mar2006/milo-m13.shtml
Media lies and hypocrisy in wake of Milosevic's death

[Cropped (from 1,691 words!) to link and headline. Che, please cut it out. --em] http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/thedebate/2006/03/is_it_civil_war.html#c14715471

Posted by: CHE [cropped by Emily] | March 13, 2006 10:39 AM

Che,
Do you actually read what the debate is about? Ever? This article may have made sense in a couple of debates in the last few weeks, but this one?

/And you wonder why people don't like reading your posts and skip them.

Posted by: Freedom | March 13, 2006 10:56 AM

While it is noteworthy that baseball has increased suspension penalties for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (why are we even administering tests to people who have failed twice? Get out of the sport.) positive tests, it's hard to take them seriously when they are improvements on completely meaningless penalties (and fairly meaningless penalties themselves).

Previously the penalty had been a 10 game suspension for 1st timers, a 30 game suspension for 2nd timers. It took FIVE failed tests to result in a lifetime "ban" (this term is used loosely, more on that later). Keep in mind that baseball regular seasons last 162 games.

This system was "fixed" whereas the penalties were 50, 100, and lifetime "bans" respectively for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd positive tests. This is a step in the right direction, but not enough. If Baseball were serious about discouraging steroid use they wouldn't let a player participate in 112 games of the season if that player failed to pass a simple drug test. Or 62 games if they failed again.

Lifetime "bans" last exactly two years (I guess they measured it in hamster years) which is how soon the player can apply for reinstatement.

For sports to have any integrity or credibility with fans the people watching must believe that there is a sense of fair play (and it doesn't hurt if the league at least pretends not to tacitly accept illicit drug use). Drug abuse violates that trust.

First abuse should be the season. Second abuse should be the ban with reinstatement possilibity (which is essentially a two year ban with extension potential). Third should be unquestionable lifetime ban from the sport. For life. Not in hamster years.

Drug abuse in the sport would be a non-issue in a short period of time.

Posted by: Will | March 13, 2006 12:10 PM

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2365628

Interesting that amid all the talk about steroid use, ESPN still chooses to cover Bonds and the fact that he is hitting home runs again.

Posted by: MC | March 13, 2006 12:16 PM

Please discuss the practically of leveling the "playing field" by supporting the use of performance enhancing drugs accross the entire field of human competition. Think of the industry that could developed and the jobs and capitol it would create. Consider using the savings in time and money used to police the world of human competition to focus this nations capicity for creating spurious markets along with the proper bueaucrats and government agencies to run it all. With the right drugs I might come out of retirement and Jeff Gordon could stay in the top ten for the next decade.

Posted by: Mzee | March 13, 2006 12:24 PM

Mzee-

The practicallity of supporting the use of these drugs is irrelevant, since in most cases these drugs are already illicit. Whether the sport allows them or not their use is banned by law. The drugs are not banned for arbitrary or self referential reasons. Steroids are illegal not because they improve athletic preformance, but because of the damage they do on the users liver, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. Not to mention the psychological effect of incresed testosterone.

Sports are necessarily competetive and thus breed an environment where having the edge represents a financial incentive for players to abuse their bodies through both legal and illegal drug use. Contrary to your depiction of these drugs, this kind of environment is extremely dangerous for athletes.

Posted by: Will | March 13, 2006 12:43 PM

Will -
I agree with your thoughts on changing the suspensions for MLB offenders. I for one would be all for a lifetime ban after one offense since players know how serious this situation has become.
MLB use to be my favorite sport, but I've grown more and more distant from it during the last few years. Players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds should request all their records be removed from the books. It's disgusting and an insult to greats like Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Roger Maris.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | March 13, 2006 01:31 PM

I agree with you Will, and Alex. Fundamentally, once you throw drugs into "Sport" it is no longer "Sport"; it is a form of biological science, of narrowly focused pharmacology, the development of technology, all driven by the huge dollars that flow from the entertainment business. It is no longer a competition between athletes but a competition between biological chemists. Perhaps Bonds records should be listed not under Bonds but under BALCO/Bonds.

Posted by: Cayambe | March 13, 2006 02:03 PM

With its focus on MLB, what often gets lost in the discussion of performance enhancing drugs in the sport is the pervasiveness of their use in minor league and high school ball. Alot more "kids" are juicing up than one might expect.

Posted by: D. | March 13, 2006 02:34 PM

Posted by: Alex Ham

"I agree with your thoughts on changing the suspensions for MLB offenders. I for one would be all for a lifetime ban after one offense since players know how serious this situation has become.
MLB use to be my favorite sport, but I've grown more and more distant from it during the last few years. Players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds should request all their records be removed from the books. It's disgusting and an insult to greats like Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Roger Maris."

And don't forget Hammering Hank, well written Alex.

Posted by: Jamal | March 13, 2006 02:39 PM

D.-

I certainly don't want to under emphasize that element. The level of competition trickles down from above though. The reason Minor Leaguers are compelled to risk their bodies and careers for drugs is because it might be the only way they can reach the next echelon of sports (and thus their only access to larger salaries).

When people like Barry Bonds use drugs to make themselves better "athletes", they steal a spot from another player who did not use drugs. The lesser player is thus encouraged to level the playing field through drug use.

Drug use in the pros trickles down to all levels. Furthermore, abundant drug use at the minor league, college, or high school level is going to desensitize these people to the dangers associated with the drug use. What's bad for Professional athletes is bad for High School athletes. We hold the former to a higher standard, though, for good reason.

Posted by: Will | March 13, 2006 02:51 PM

Observations:

1. Far too many sports are set up by Organizers and businesses so that the money and glory is reserved solely for the WINNER, despite having a grouping of some 30-40 top athletes separated only by microseconds or fractions of an inch in performance. That creates in irresistable incentive to seek an edge or even cheat when the person making 40 times as much money as you is only 1/8th of a second ahead of you and 29 others in a 1500M ski run. Even sports that spread money and glory more widely are still bedeviled by obsessed "Records" hungry fans and thus contracts reflect that the say, soccer player, that leads the league in having 18 points (goals&assists) gets paid significantly more that anyone in his peer cluster of top player that has 10-16 points in a season, even though his effect is marginal on team success. Even team sports are driven by fans and media to manufacture the "superstar" with the best stats or who can be the 10-second soundbite and Symbol of the Team.

2. The term "performance-enhancing" is not the only reason to take "illegal substances". Pro sports have almost universally gone to longer and longer seasons to make more and more money, dramatically increasing wear and tear on the body. Enormous pressure is put on the athlete to play hurt, and older athletes career and lucrative pay may be shortened unless they "miraculously" heal fast and don't lose a step on the competitors for their job.

3. The "Just Say No for the purity of the sport" crowd tried for years to spread the lie that steroids didn't work. Obviously they do. For strength, performance, healing injury. Otherwise doctors wouldn't widely prescribe them to us ordinary Joes for healing, keeping strength up in weakening ailments. Then the "purity crowd" tried the scare tactic that steroids and other drugs caused cancer, shrunken testicles, acne, insane rage, baldness and other horrific side effects - which in fact do happen but on a very minor risk level that does not deter doctors globally from making hundreds of millions of prescriptions of these "wonder drugs" to ordinary Joes. So athletes face not just huge peer pressure, but an establishment that lied to them for years about safety and efficacy of drugs issues.

4. Another incentive is safety. Even when you get past the money and glory incentives, athletes in many sports are in the razor thin area of what is possible and nor possible given human physical limits - and stepping over that line or not having perfect position or be ready for an off-angle hit means physical destruction. Of an achilles tendon, a shoulder rotator cuff, a quad muscle, a knee, a spine...Steroids and more exotic stuff like HGH offer the chance to build up joint, muscle strength and allow more conditioning without the wear and tear of exercise negating beneficial gains. Doping compounds or bood packing allows more oxygen availability or cardiopulmonary effectiveness...

If some 260 pound, 4.5 speed steroid-enhanced linebacker is going to slam you down as you catch the ball, you are a lot safer if you too are enhanced, bulked-up, and your joints and muscles better able to deal with the trauma.

If you are a women's aerialist trick skier, a sport where the jumps have now exceeded the ability of women's weaker joints to take the stress of 30-foot falls which must be landed perfectly - You compete knowing almost 25% of that ski elite have suffered agonizing days of pain and horrendous injury - mainly ripped apart knee ligaments. Your hope is that steroids will give you added safety from crippling injury and pain - if you can get away with using them. Unless they make the jumps lower or come up with a mechanical knee brace that works..

5. And the situation is made even more difficult by a robust well-paid counter-establishment of coaches, sports trainers, organization flunkies, shoe promo people, corporate endorsers, team owners, agents, physicians, national sports ministries -- whose very jobs and/or investment is conditional on having the "winning athlete" or "winning program" -- and who have every incentive to 1st "look the other way" to maintain plausible deniability if an athelete fails a pee or blood test. Then face the enormous pressure to go the other way and actively participate and get the stuff their athlete or team "needs" given "the competition is doing it" and seek newer, better substances that stay in the body for a briefer period - even the holy grail - the untestable "golden drug". To counsel the athlete and set biological lifetime schedules of drug detectability in athletes so they can bulk up or speed up - undetected in the off-season. To have intelligence in the testing camp to know when it is "safe" to do steroid, etc. "boosters" in season when testing is not planned or is highly unlikely, like on long road trips. Or participate in efforts to rig tests or testing systems. Even try and taint competitors that threaten their jobs.

6. The idea of the "role model" is powerful in our society, and there is some truth to it, after all. It is illustrative to a child to point out how hard Sarah Hughes had to work for her 4 minutes of glory and near-perfection in 2002, the thousands of painful falls she had. In adult life, we have many "sports idiots" in our midst who live vicariously through the life of some pro they admire and companies and governments that seek to infuse their pathetic organization or product pitch with the "winning spirit and role model aspects" of some celebrity astronaut, movie star, athlete, etc.

The problem of course is "role modeling" is more often than not predicated on building a web of lies around the character and personality of the jock. Pretending there is nothing they would rather do than visit dying stranger kids hooked up to machines and tubes in a hospital, show up and hand out a bunch of Chinese-made sports shirts with the logo of their corporate sponsor du jour to a bunch of inner city loser kids who dream they will be the 1 in 9,000 that can neglect education in favor or a pro sports career.....When they honestly would rather be drinking Kystal, playing golf, enjoying the 56" plasma screen enterainment center with their posse`. Or banging one of the model-hot, nympho sports groupies that waited in line to hand out their number as eager supplicants to the famous, mighty virile athlete - and to the millions they imagine might be theirs if they really capture His Fancy and He asks them to stay...

The odds that an athlete who is so physically gifted that he has had people kissing his ass and throwing money at him since age 12 is a "role model" is likely less than in the general population. Instead of the pro athlete "machine" producing a role model, it works the other way, convincing many good men and women that they are above their adoring cattle and play life by different rules....and it "IS All About Me" - since an athletes time is short and could end tomorrow with injury. And it is the exceptional person of good character from a good family that resists those blandishments and remains with a good heart and willingness to help others - or finds in pro athletics the structure that gives them the transformative power and money to create a better person. I think Tiger Woods would have turned out a great guy even if he didn't have his gift, Roger Federer a golden man even without his inhuman speed and hand-eye coordination, Dave Bing would have succeeded in business without ever having been a Piston..

==========================
Emily -

It may be healthier for our society to shift role models for kids away from pro athletes to use local HS or college players as role models. The mass media and gambling interests built up the pros for profits - but nowadays there is no reason why a kid can't tape, follow on TV and track a more approachable and realistic role model.

And to put your kids athletics in practical terms. School coaches are pretty honest about what sport, if any, your kid has good chances to doing well in - even at an early age - if you ask them for advice. A slower than average boy unlikely to be taller than 5' 10' is effectively barred from ever being in the sport of his idol, Kobe Bryant, but might flourish from your directing and supporting him or her in tracking a good local golfer, bowler, sailor, or gymnast who he can learn from and get tips on competing from. And learn that it is not just the 1 in 10,000 "winner" in any sport that are worth emulating.

British ski jumper and meat butcher "Eddie the Eagle" got more fans, friends and supporters and success in life in later years, than the surly Norweigan gold-medal winner that outjumped him by 20 meters. Eddie definitely was no steroid user...

Posted by: Chris Ford | March 13, 2006 03:07 PM

Agree 100% with you there Will.

Posted by: D. | March 13, 2006 03:30 PM

That we would debate this at all is a sad commentary on our values. Once again, money talks.

Who are our kid's role models? Astronauts? Scientists? The Van Cliburn competition winner? Humanitarians?

or gagsta rappers and cheating athletes?

Who defines our culture? We sit here and complain about the media obsession with dead white girls, dying of starvation white Hollywood Star girls, and anti-heroes. But they claim they are only covering what they get ratings for. If we were banging the door down to watch Jim Lehrer they'd be imitating him.

Shallow antihero role models, cheaters, torture, extraordinary rendition, Enron... Its time to take a giant look in the mirror and see who we've become.

See ya back when the topic is relevant. Like how are we gonna stop this gang of fools from setting off WWIII with Iran and why they decided to let the President get away with breaking the law.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | March 13, 2006 03:40 PM

I agree, patriot 1957.

Emily's editor must want her to do more topics for the masses. This is not a particularly lofty discussion, after all.

This topic is very un-like The Debate.

Posted by: Tim | March 13, 2006 04:40 PM

Cut EM some slack. Her boss must have finaly waked up and realized she and the rest of the Post columnists are on the wrong side of the American people regarding the Dubai deal. This could be her 'punishment' assignment.

One related subject I'd like to see discussed is globalization and oursourcing. Since almost all Post (and NYT) columnists are enthusiatic supporters of globalization, I wonder how they feel if their jobs are outsourced to say India's columnists/journalists to help the US newspaper industry in these troubled times of declining readership and revenues.

Posted by: Emily's Agent | March 13, 2006 05:06 PM

Another topic that's more immediate to the 'mass' is the cost of living in metro areas like Washington DC. If the Top Domestic Advisor to the President of the United States could not make do on 161K a year and had to resort to shoplifting to survive, what's the chance for all the rest of the lowly civil servants out there? Have housing costs got so out of hand? Including the ever rising real estate taxes. What do all these county govts do with this windfall?

Posted by: Emily's Civil Servant | March 13, 2006 05:26 PM

They should split the leagues into anythig goes and no-go. At the end of the season, have a competition between the uber men and women and mere mortals. This would be a fantastic money making enterprise. Separate records books can be kept to retain the legacy mortal feats.

Remember Phil Hartman pulling his own arms off in an SNL skit about this (complete with Montey Python spurting blood)? What a sight that would be.

They also could have competitions for best mono-brow, tallest forehead, the woman(?)with flattest chest etc. That's entertainment!

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | March 13, 2006 05:38 PM

patriot 1957 posts: "Its time to take a giant look in the mirror and see who we've become."

And how we got that way. And who we really should be. It nevers hurts to stop and take stock of where we are right now.

And a good place to start is "globalization and oursourcing". At your convenience, Miss Emily.

Posted by: wiccan | March 13, 2006 07:01 PM

bonds, sosa and mcgwire need to have there records marked with and asterik indicating that they used illegal means to attain them. a look at their rookie baseball cards and stature over the years tells the story - you cannot put 35-40 lbs of muscle on in adulthood while playing 162 games or over three months in an off season without out steroids - no matter how much tuna you eat and weights you lift - it is physically impossible - they should all be inelligable for the hall of fame - the problem with this is many people will voice arguments like those above about leveling the playing field and allowing thier use - hey how about responsibility - no awards - no place in the hall of fame and your records tainted as a cheater - that will limit endorsments, only so many books will be sold on how i did steroids during my carrer limiting the after game income and this problem will solve itself-

Posted by: gord | March 13, 2006 08:14 PM

Performance-Enhancing Drugs have proven managment, unions, and the Major league Baseball Commission can get along very well while the big bucks are coming in and the fans kept happy. There are no checks and balances between the three branches of MLB. I'm sorry I must be confused, am I debating MLB or the federal government?

Posted by: Jamal | March 13, 2006 09:12 PM

QUOTE:
That we would debate this at all is a sad commentary on our values. Once again, money talks.

Who are our kid's role models? Astronauts? Scientists? The Van Cliburn competition winner? Humanitarians?

or gagsta rappers and cheating athletes?

Who defines our culture? We sit here and complain about the media obsession with dead white girls, dying of starvation white Hollywood Star girls, and anti-heroes. But they claim they are only covering what they get ratings for. If we were banging the door down to watch Jim Lehrer they'd be imitating him.

Shallow antihero role models, cheaters, torture, extraordinary rendition, Enron... Its time to take a giant look in the mirror and see who we've become.

See ya back when the topic is relevant. Like how are we gonna stop this gang of fools from setting off WWIII with Iran and why they decided to let the President get away with breaking the law...."

Wow, I didn't know that blogs were all meant to be about foreign policy and what is going to happen in Iran. I mean those things are not reported by papers or talked about by the various political pundits. Just because a topic is a little different, and you don't care to talk about it doesn't mean that it can not be discussed in a relatively healthy manner. Don't mind me I just took some steroids and it's making me smarter and faster at typing.

Posted by: 1958 | March 13, 2006 09:59 PM

"Don't mind me I just took some steroids and it's making me smarter and faster at typing."

Hey, I could use those types of steroids. Are they available over the counter?

Posted by: 1984 | March 13, 2006 10:24 PM

Chris Ford - very interesting comments. I find myself in agreement with much of what you have to say. Despite the dismissive attitude of some regarding this topic, I find it very relevant. To me it is a reflection of ourselves and what we value as a society, which I sometimes believe is not the same as what we value as individuals. I draw parallels between pushing the envelope in sports and pushing the envelope in our political system. Both are high stakes contests where the opponants do all they can to win, including bending the rules almost to the breaking point on the field or on the court, or in the case of politics, in front of the cameras, and it seems that out of sight the rules get broken, whether its steroids in sports or illegal money deals and related forms of power brokering in politics.

Is there a connection? In both cases there is a win at costs metality and a winner take all mentality. A few topics ago I posted a quote by James Madison from one of the Federalist papers, # 51, I believe. I paraphrase it as ambition couteracts ambition as the ultimate check in our governing system. This uses the reality of human nature as a bulwark against tyranny. Sports competition is a physical manifestation of ambition vs. ambition played out within the rules of a game. Competition is considered the highest priority. Sportsmanship/ethics is paid lip service, it seems only for the kids and little old ladies.

Complete competition would seem to be a good idea if you want get the "best result", but lets think about this concept. Now, I want to be careful here because I do believe in competition, and I do believe that ambition is the best check against another's ambition, but whenever I read that quote and think about what Madison was saying, I can't help but think there was something missing there. It is unchecked competition and untempered ambition that gets us into trouble. To set up conditions for such fierce unchecked competition with such high stakes, whether in politics or in sports, has ramifications. People depend on rules, laws, and ethics to keep our ambitions from getting out of control. Those things often work to curb egregious violations, but over time both athletes and politicians have figured out creative and sneaky ways to push the envelope and completely break through it when they see an opportunity to get away with it.

When its a matter of ambition vs. ambition in an environment where its expected to find creative ways around the rules, don't be suprised when incrementally over time we find that the framework of the competition itself has changed.

Why do we let this happen? Are we really that immoral as indiviuals? I don't think so. I believe we are busy and we fail to pay attention and when we do we figure the offending activity has been going on forever and everyone is doing it, and "there's nothing I can do about it anyway", so we just go on with our immediate lives that we feel we have control over.

Meanwhile, in the case of sports (The NFL in this example) every Sunday the TV goes on and we watch the football games even after things like the Vikings "love cruise" take place. As long as we watch, the advertisers will pony up the cash to the networks who have the TV deal with the NFL who distributes the revenues to the owners who then pay the players. The other enabling aspect of this is that we the consumers buy the products that the advertisers sell through their advertising during the football games.

I wonder what would happen if in the instance of an ethics violation (e.g. the "love cruise" or a player taking steroids) that team's games were blacked out in the area of their television market and the NFL had to forgo the revenues associated with the TV rights to that game. The advertiser would get some of their money back and the NFL would pass the revenue loss to the team's owner. Suddenly, not just the player gets punished, but the league, the owner, and the fans. It wouldn't be long before there was no more 3 strikes and you're out. Instead it would be "You screwed up - here's your pink slip."

As long as I'm being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, What would be the analagous circumstance in politics?

How about this: If a member of the House of Representatives is found to be in violation of ethics rules all the citizens in that congressman's district have to pay an extra 5% of income tax. If it is a Senator it would be the whole state pays the extra 5% income tax. If its the President, the whole nation pays the extra 5%. After all, isn't our government supposed to be for, by, and of the people? Aren't we the owners? Should we be held accountable somehow? If we were would more people pay attention and would there be a big clean-up in government, or would we simply make it harder to find someone in violation of ethics rules?

What does everyone think? Would these approaches provide the needed checks against competition/ambition that is out of control?

Posted by: DK | March 14, 2006 12:02 AM

"How about this: If a member of the House of Representatives is found to be in violation of ethics rules all the citizens in that congressman's district have to pay an extra 5% of income tax. If it is a Senator it would be the whole state pays the extra 5% income tax. If its the President, the whole nation pays the extra 5%. After all, isn't our government supposed to be for, by, and of the people? Aren't we the owners? Should we be held accountable somehow? If we were would more people pay attention and would there be a big clean-up in government, or would we simply make it harder to find someone in violation of ethics rules?"


--not to go off topic since that would anger some posters but for the people by the people doesn't always allow for those in the minority to have their candidates win a seat. You would be punishing them for a person they did not vote for with what you quoted...not the best system in my opinion.

Posted by: 1959 | March 14, 2006 12:17 AM

Actually I did think of that, but I threw it out there anyway. Maybe that will increase the level of accountability people hold each other to. In other words regardless of who is nominated - Democrat, Republican, or Independant all the people better make sure the candidates have integrity and stick to the ethics rules.

Getting back to a sports analogy and I suppose a military analogy too, some of the most effective punishment occurs when an entire team or unit is punished when one person screws up (e.g. if one person screws up the entire team has to do laps) Next thing you know, the team or unit starts policing itself.

Posted by: DK | March 14, 2006 12:33 AM

Chris F made a whole bunch of solid points, I join DK in agreeing with much of it

the US and Canada fell flat in Olympic hockey, though both squads had solid talent (the Canadians were clearly the strongest roster, in some pro ranking sense) .... why? in part because the old guys on the US club (Modano) were whining about accommodations, and all the old guys on both clubs couldn't recover fast enough to skate so many matchs in so short a period of time -

there's nothing like the NCAA b-ball tournament for energy and enthusiasm - when's the last time a pro hockey or pro b-ball game really got you drawn in?

Who gives a cr_p about who wins the Stanley Cup (this from a guy in the heart of Minnesota, where hocky holds court) anymore?

Role models are not celebrities, they are the people who do the important things, the right things when no one is looking. Once you throw buckets of money at any task, it's about the money, not the task.
Washington could use to have less money swimming around the major players, and so could pro sports.

Neither politics nor pro athletices are better because there's so much more cash involved than years back, when congressmen didn't take golfing trips to St Andrews, and young men didn't get several million just to sign a pro contract.

steroids do have very nasty side effects for a lot of people.

bigger, faster, higher, stronger - worth it?

by contrast, ... smarter - that might be worth something - got the drug for that? let's put it in a lot of celebrity food - Paris Hilton to Mr. Bush, Bonds to .... what was that US skier again who was going to win everything at the Olympics based on the hype .....

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | March 14, 2006 03:40 AM


Pakistan Bribed 9/11 Commission Members

Calcutta Telegraph | March 14 2006

The Pakistan foreign office had paid tens of thousands of dollars to lobbyists in the US to get anti-Pakistan references dropped from the 9/11 inquiry commission report, The Friday Times has claimed.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060313/asp/nation/story_5962372.asp

Posted by: NEW CHE | March 14, 2006 04:24 AM

US involved in illegal tactics in Iraq: deserter

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/mar2006-daily/13-03-2006/world/w1.htm

[http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/thedebate/2006/03/is_it_civil_war.html#c14715471]

Posted by: NEW CHE [cropped by Emily] | March 14, 2006 05:11 AM

Chris Ford, your March 13, 3:07 p.m. essay takes on every consideration in a very clear and in-depth way. Really quite astonishing job.

As an avid non-sports fan, the issue is very remote to me. Looking across the valley between two mountains, it looks like the motivation to cheat with drugs is pure greed, either for praise or money.

I believe our society would be better off if there was a counterbalance to sports mania that had rewards for academic excellence from early years; but, of course, that would be thought by most to be elistist since the winners would unfairly using natural advantages of discipline and intellect.

Posted by: On the plantation | March 14, 2006 08:04 AM

Let's see now... a reporter... from the "left of Jesse Jackscon" SF Chrinicle writes a book... so it "must" be considered factual...
I recently had surgery... must have taken far longer than I thought... when was the trial?

Posted by: Stan | March 14, 2006 08:13 AM

Chris Ford,

Steroids work, but they work not in a way that's healthy. For short-term treatment of ailments it's fine, but extended use has some dismal consequences (major problem is the adrenal crisis that can kill if any junkie abruptly stops taking steroids -- Think living off of a respirator and then trying to breathe on your own again).

Steroids should be banned in sports. It really has no place there (expect only for 7-14 day typical drug regimens to treat medical disorders). Besides our skeletons aren't designed for heavy mass (our bones are actually getting lighter).

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | March 14, 2006 08:51 AM

Testing

Posted by: Testing | March 14, 2006 12:45 PM

I have been around strength training and high school athletics for over 25 years. I believe a scandal much bigger in scope than the baseball steroid scandal is the abuse of these substances by high school athletes. The scandal is that their use is implicitly condoned by coaches across the country. Believe me when I tell you that coaches do not want to stop their players from using steroids because they don't want to be at a competitive disadvantage in their quest for conference or state championships. When I read a story about a high school athlete caught doing steroids, or even worse, having committed suicide because of the depression caused by the cessation of steroid cycles, inevitably the coach claims he had no idea the student was taking steroids. I can tell you that is total bull, but it protects them legally so they get away with it.

This is where government action needs to be directed, and the baseball hearings hopefully started to bring this problem to light. The hearings delved into steroids as a societal and health issue. This may have been the first step in revealing this problem to both parents and school administrators.

I realize that testing of high school athletes would be an expensive proposition and beyond the financial ability of most high schools. I also know that the A.C.L.U. would have a field day with any attempt to bring about mandatory testing. But high school age kids have to be protected from themselves because the adults involved in their lives either don't know, don't want to know, or don't care about the physical and psychological damage these drugs can cause. If you do any research on this topic, the number of suicides associated with attempts to cease steroid use is startling.

Most parents are unaware of their kids steroid use, and if they suspect something, they believe their child when they are told "I'm just getting bigger and stronger because I am working out really hard" Instead of remaining suspicious, they become very proud of the hard work their son is performing in order to better themselves. Then there are those parents, fathers mostly, who don't really have a problem if their kid is doing steroids because it's going to lead to that "division 1 scholarship and eventually a pro contract." I have already explained why coaches don't care. I have to say I have much experience in dealing with and knowing high school football coaches and not 1, I emphasize not 1, cares to discuss the issue or do anything to put an end to steroid use by their players. Most of them measure their self-worth in wins and losses and what happens to their kids after they leave high school is someone else's problem, not theirs

I believe the potential heroes on this issue can be school administrators; presidents and principals. They do not have the "win at all costs" attitude their coaches have, and I think they are the people who must help put an end to this. A coach should be made aware that he must send a strong message to his players that steroid use will not be tolerated and anyone suspected of using them will have their parents notified, and anyone caught using them will be prohibited from participating in future athletic activities. I mean after all, they are now controlled substances. Seminars designed to explain the warning signs that parents should look for should become mandatory for all parents of students participating in school athletic programs. On a side note, a local high school recently offered this, but did not make it mandatory. A grand total of 8 parents showed up. If this doesn't tell you they have their heads in the sand, nothing will. Coaches who do not take a strong stand against steroid use should be fired. In the perfect world, they would then not be hired by any other high school. I believe these kind of actions would go a long way in changing the course high school athletics are now on.

I believe any adult who condones or allows the use of steroids by adolescents is guilty of child abuse and should be subject to the legal system. I have seen first hand the damage this can do, mostly psychological, and I believe if enough people are made aware of the problem, we will be moving in the direction of returning participation in high school athletics to the positive experience it should be.

Posted by: bobk | March 15, 2006 08:42 AM

Emily,

In the discussion of PED use in professional baseball, there is one issue that is too rarely mentioned: the danger faced by other players who play with or against athletes on drugs. For example, athletes on steroids are said to be bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than they would otherwise be. They pose a danger to other players.

In 1993 I was at an Atlanta Braves game at which Ken Caminiti running the bases collided at home plate with the Brave's catcher, Greg Olson. Olson's leg was broken, he missed the rest of the season, and he retired that next year (perhaps due to his inability to recover fully from the injury).

At the time, there was some comment about whether Caminiti's play was unsportsmanlike. His team had a wide lead late in the game, and he came home under circumstances in which he probably knew that his only chance of scoring lay in slamming into the catcher and dislodging the ball. It was generally agreed that his conduct was aggressive but acceptable.

As you know, several years later (before he passed on at the age of 41), Caminiti admitted that he used steroids during his career. His confession focused on the 1996 season when he was the league's MVP. I have wondered to what extent his drug use might have contributed to the injury suffered by Greg Olson at home plate that night in 1993.

Certainly there must be players who have suffered avoidable injuries at the hands of drugged up, hyper-aggressive, super-sized competitors. This is another reason that drug use by athletes is wrong.

Posted by: Avery | March 15, 2006 06:00 PM

Frankly, I don't care if professional athletes use steroids, but I do think that the one person who can authorize the launch of a nuclear attack should have to pass quarterly drug and psychiatric tests.

Posted by: Vern in Florida | March 17, 2006 03:11 PM

Celebs Top Ten Ways Barry Bonds
Can Improve His Image

10. "Hire a hot PR manager."
Paris H., NY, NY

9. Launch campaign, "Just say no to performance enhancing drugs."
Nancy R., Santa Barbara, CA

8. "Go on Oprah and whatever you do, don't jump on her sofa."
Tom C., L.A. CA

7. "Give up your bat for a bike. There are no drugs in cycling, no matter what the labs say."
Lance A., Austin, TX

6. "Spend five months in jail, get out and do a TV show."
Martha S., Westport, CT

5. "Go into rehab, get out and do a TV show."
Whitney H., Alpharetta, GA

4. "Write a children's book."
Madonna R., Ashcombe, England

3. Guest star on "Celebrity Poker Showdown."
Macauley C., NY. NY

2. "Get a kitty."
Dave L., NY, NY

1. "Improve his image?" "More steroids!"
Greg A. (Bonds' personal trainer)

credit: www.toptenrejects.com

Posted by: Deb C. | April 4, 2006 04:36 PM

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