We’ve all heard about Lance Armstrong’s recent scandal and admittance to using drugs to help him excel in his sport of cycling. But, why is he at the top of the media list? Is it, because he was the first in his sport to “come clean” or that he is such an icon around the globe or the fact that he stood for great causes? Then with him displaying dishonesty it caused the PR world to go crazy. Click here for one example.
The point that I’m trying to make is that this has been going on for decades and he definitely isn’t the first. You don’t hear much from these guys anymore, but remember Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Sammy Sosa? Those guys were hitting home runs left and right in baseball and chasing one of the greatest records in sports history. The best part was that they entered the major leagues around 160-190 pounds and then towards the end of their careers, they all of a sudden gained 20-40 pounds of muscle. How does that happen for 35-40 year old men out of the blue?
Some of the most recent people getting caught were Major League Baseball’s Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera and I just saw an article today about Alex Rodriguez who was using PEDs for four years without anyone knowing. Click here to see the investigation.
It’s apparent that Major League Baseball has the biggest issue with performance enhancing drugs. They’ve had this issue ever since steroids were introduced really. I honestly believe that they have no one to blame, but themselves really. The greedy owners knew that the players were doing it and I’m convinced that they were encouraging it. Let’s face it, steroids do make you bigger, faster and stronger. However, they do not help your hand-eye coordination or help you hit a baseball. You will hit it further, but speaking from experience, hitting a round ball with a round bat, squarely, is very difficult. In fact, if you do it successfully 3 out of 10 times, you’re a professional. Let me know what other job allows you to fail 70% of the time and still make millions a year.
So back to the issue at hand here. Baseball is now trying to “clean up” their sport by punishing players who violate their “testing” standards. Can we really punish them for something that hasn’t always been illegal? Also, is it illegal? Sports are a form of entertainment and these men are risking their bodies for the sake of that, money and fame. It’s a billion dollar business and can we really blame these men for trying to reach these unrealistic expectations that everyone sets for them? We all fuel these “stars” with our love, support and hard-earned money. Then the team owners, managers and coaches do the same and push them to their limits on a daily basis.
I am by no means sticking up for them and saying that PEDs are okay. Just saying that we live in a world where everyone wants to achieve the unbelievable. The bar is constantly being raised with scientific break-through’s, sports medicine and supplements. There was a day when guys like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Hank Aaron ruled baseball. Most of these guys were smoking cigars, drinking beer and eating hot dogs between innings. You could also say that alcohol and nicotine are performance enhancing drugs if you wanted to. These guys also did it without the top of the line equipment and set records that stood for decades.
Pete Rose recently spoke out about baseball and its records. He said it best, “Anything that compromises the stats, shouldn’t be allowed. What makes baseball, baseball is the stats. It’s nothing without them.” Those aren’t his exact words, but you get the idea. This is coming from a guy who is currently banned from the Hall of Fame for trying to change the stats of baseball by throwing games and betting on and against his own team. He’s also one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He played with so much heart, intensity and was nicknamed “Charlie Hustle.” He also holds some records for his hitting.
Enough about baseball. This past NFL season had some suspensions for players violating their substance policy. So they have their issues as well, but what about soccer, basketball and hockey? I imagine their respective leagues have substance abuse policies, but they aren’t as talked about as baseball’s or Lance Armstrong.
So what do we do with these cheaters? Can we really have a legal trial for their “fraud”? It is cheating and fraud, because they’ve deceived their fans, teammates and everyone else involved in the sport. Should we have asterisks next to their names in the record books? Or how about a separate record book for the honest men and women who did it the right way and then another one for the cheaters and their inflated stats?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject as there is a lot of gray area, but morality does seem to take precedence. I personally miss growing up in the 80s and part of the 90s when athletes looked “normal.” Even looking at photos from earlier years, they looked like everyday people, but with exceptional athletic ability and incredible strength. Now you look at them and they don’t have an ounce of fat on their body and their muscles are too big for their own skin. The NHL and NFL are running into this issue, because players are getting, bigger, faster and stronger and that results in more injuries. Especially brain and head injuries.
Where do we draw the line and say enough is enough? I think that nutrition and the right supplements are great. They can help people, but greed is causing professional sports to lose its authenticity and natural fun. Now it’s all about watching “super-humans” destroy their bodies.
P.S. You can see Lance’s interview with Oprah here.