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Baseball Players Taking Steroids?


Baseball Players Taking Steroids…Are They The Only Ones Who Cheat?

Recently in the United States there have been congressional hearings into the widespread use of anabolic steroids in baseball.  Purists of the sport of baseball call steroid use cheating but the use of performance enhancing drugs is prevalent not only in sports but in our daily lives.

If your child is having trouble concentrating in school and it is suggested that Ritalin or a similar drug would allow your child to become more focused and achieve better marks, would you withhold the drug because it gives your child an advantage? When my children were attending university they each took phosphatidylserine and high potency fish oil. Both of these natural supplements enhance brain function. Were they cheating? Should they have declared the use of these mind-enhancing supplements to their professors?

Most people have a caffeine beverage before starting work.  I would think that the use of such a stimulant in the morning and maybe a few more times during the day may enhance their working performance.  Many people are deathly afraid of public speaking, and have learned that a beta blocker called propranolol can lower their heart rate, stop them from perspiring and allow them to make that presentation while at the same time not affecting the clarity of their thoughts. I would call this a performance-enhancing drug but its use is perfectly acceptable in our society.  If you have a very long week coming, have to put in lots of overtime and still attend to many functions in your social life, will your child miss one or two tablets from his Ritalin or Dexedrine prescription?  And when the week is over and you are complimented for your great work at the office and how smooth you were at the social functions, will you declare the use of your performance drugs?  In the city of Hamilton where Stelco and Defasco are the two largest employers, Tylenol # 3’s are probably the most commonly prescribed performance enhancing drugs used by the tough hard-working men in the steel industry.  And finally there are the drugs that help us cope.  In the seventies, the Rolling Stones coined the phrase “mother’s little helper” which was a reference to the use of Valium to help women cope with their new found freedom that let them be equal to men in the workplace as well as raise a family at home.  Today, people under stress take anti-depressants, the modern day version of the performance-enhancing drug to help us cope.

Olympic athletes constantly find ways to cheat and it is so prevalent that I think the medals should be given to the chemists who develop the new undetectable drugs that allow their athletes to pass the tests.  Ben Johnson was caught because he used an old drug that could easily be discovered with a routine screening test.  His competitors may have used newer drugs that slipped under the screening.  Patients undergoing chemotherapy use a drug called epoiten to build up the red blood cells destroyed by the chemotherapy.  It did not take athletes very long to discover this drug and use it to enhance their red blood cell count and thus increase the amount of oxygen delivered to their muscles.  It was years before they started testing red blood cell volume and until then how many athletes succeeded in cheating.

Mature males today have entered their own sexual Olympics with the use of Viagra, Levitra, Cialis and even natural supplements such as DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). Are these the same men who condemn baseball players for using steroids?  If a man over fifty is afraid of losing his job to a younger 25 year old, is it permissible to use a testosterone patch to increase his strength and stamina? Testosterone is the principle anabolic steroid used by athletes.

After you finished playing a round of golf and had a very good game will you declare to the rest of your foursome that you used an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or naproxen or will you just accept the accolades of your playing partners?  Athletes who take steroids increase their muscle mass, their strength and their stamina.  However, as a longtime baseball player I can tell you that these drugs do not enhance your hand-eye co-ordination and hitting a baseball with a bat or hitting a golf ball requires the perfect swing and connecting to the “sweet-spot.  Extra strength has nothing to do with it. However, the anabolic steroids can keep you in the game for an extended period of time.

We should all look at our own lives before condemning baseball players for cheating.