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Drugs in Baseball
Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) have been around as long as competitive sports. History shows that since the early 1900s, Olympic athletes have been mixing their own concoctions that they believe will improve their athletic performance. A near-lethal mixture of brandy and strychnine was used by an Olympic marathon runner in 1904.
In 1928, the International Association of Athletics Federations became the first international sports federation to ban the doping of athletes; it is the governing body of athletics.
However, in 1958 the FDA approved the first anabolic steroid for sale in the United States, and it changed the face of sports forever. While official drug testing at the Olympics began in 1968, a reliable test for anabolic steroids was not developed until 1975, and the substance was soon added to the list of banned substances.
While most banned substances applied only to Olympic athletes, Congress passed the Anabolic Steroids Control Act in 1990, placing this substance in the same legal class as amphetamines, methamphetamine, opium and morphine. The following year, Major League Baseball banned steroids. MLB’s commissioner at that time said he banned steroids largely because of rumors of substance use by Jose Canseco, even though he really knew nothing about steroids at the time.
In 1997, the new MLB commissioner reiterated the ban on the use of steroids, reminding teams of the ban. The following year, the world watched as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire engaged in the famous slugfest which ended with McGwire hitting a record 70 homers in a single season. McGwire admits to using a steroid precursor, but since MLB is not enforcing sanctions with the steroid ban at this point, McGwire is not penalized.
In 2002, Ken Caminiti gave an interview to Sports Illustrated where he admitted to using steroids during his 1996 National League MVP season, and estimated that half of MLB players also use steroids. This puts pressure on MLB to test the use of steroids. Later that year, MLB included “survey testing” in the labor agreement for the following year to assess steroid use among players, without punishment.
Due to the high number of positive tests in the 2003 MLB season, random testing with applied penalties begins in 2004. The testing program is enhanced in 2005 and extended for three years. During this time, Barry Bonds broke the all-time home run record, leading to speculation that he was using steroids, even though he passed MLB-administered drug tests. In 2011, Bonds was found guilty of lying about using steroids.
In 2008, Roger Clemens fought accusations that he had been injected with human growth hormone and testosterone during his MLB career. The following year, MLB showed it was serious by suspending Manny Ramirez for 50 games without pay after a failed drug test.
Since 2010, numerous scandals have erupted with former MLB players admitting to using steroids and drugs. The files were stripped and indictments were pronounced. However, players are still using PEDs and still getting caught (or not).
As of 2013, random in-season drugs tested in MLB include human growth hormone, testosterone testing, steroid testing, testing of any Schedule II substance listed in the Controlled Substances Act (such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, etc.).
Players who violate the drug policy will be punished. They will face suspensions, fines and lost wages for games not played.
It’s always disappointing for a fan when their favorite player is caught “cheating” using PEDs. With tougher policies and tougher penalties, MLB is proving it’s taking this issue more seriously. The question is, will all of this make players think twice about using DEPs?
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