Getting back on track, I do wonder where the line is drawn as far as PEDs and how fair it is. I suppose the list of banned substances is comprehensive enough to cover nearly all steroids, stimulants, and diet pills...but should it? In Bechler's case, a pill that increases heart rate--vicariously increasing (mildly) energy--killed him. A chubby pitcher trying to cut weight should be considered a cheater? Is a diet pill really a PED that deserves banning? If Ephedra wasn't in pill form, would it be considered such an issue? It has very similar properties to caffeine, yet the Red Sox have Dunkin' Donuts signs draped around their field. In fact, a former popular (albeit unhealthy) form of diet involves both Ephedra and caffeine, known as the ECA Stack
I suppose the line has been drawn conservatively in the sand to prevent any and all physiological changes to the human body, but this--to me--has always flown in the face of an advancing progressive society. We have created products that can (in safe doses) be used to save our athletes, lengthen their careers, and increase their production. Yet the MLB bans these substances because they fear the gray area between "healthy growth" and "cheating". They'd rather distance themselves from these products instead of instilling a watch program to make sure players take them in responsible and healthy doses. I assume a lot of this is the backlash of the steroid era (as well as the unobtainable goal to keep their history in the present), and I suppose it's better to ban it all immediately and deal with the repercussions later. Still, sports aren't fair. They never have been--as pointed out by the posters above me--and never will be. I guess this whole thing has brought us a step into a fairer direction.
You ask questions thet have been being asked for years. Doping in sport is hardly a NEW issue. This is what gets me most about MLB's failure to act earlier - in the 1960s, 70's and 80s, athletes from the Soviet Union, German Democratic Republic and other eastern block countries were systematically doped, and pretty much everyone knew about it - yet it didn't occur to MLB that perhaps guys with hundreds of thousands, and then millions of dollars at stake might happen to recognize that there's stuff out there that makes you better at sports.
The form, by the way, of the substance, is immaterial. Abuse of epherda herbally would be as banned as taking it as a pill, or as an injection. Caffiene, in excessive amounts has at times been equally banned in most sports - usually those amounts far transcend what you could possibly ingest drinking coffee, when abused in sport, caffiene is usually taken as a suppository, in fact. Vitamin B12 is totally legal, and taken as an injection. The form a substance comes is is a red herring to the argument of its accetablity as an ergogenic aid.
Here's a problem I have with the American media coverage of the issue, and with much of the discussion on here; The perception is that we're talking about STEROIDS IN AMERICAN BASEBALL SINCE 1990. We're not. We're talking about DOPING IN GLOBAL SPORT SINCE THE 1950S (or earlier, see above re: Babe Ruth/Goat Testosterone). This is a much bigger conversation than the small segments we're familiar with. Those who want to talk about "Steroids in Baseball" should explore the history of "Doping in Global Sport", and then have a much more enlightened dialog. My suggestion, visit the website of the World Anti-Doping Agency (http://www.wada-ama.org/
). WADA Is hardly perfect, but you'll get a much better picture of why doping in sport is an issue, and why it needs to be fought. It's not the everything and anything on the subject, but it is a good place to begin.
One thing you note - certain products in "safe doses" can be used to save athletes and lengthen careers. There's no such thing as a "safe dose" for an athlete...the mentality that drives one to seek every little edge doesn't have a place for a safe dose. If one pill heals your injury, two pills will put you on the team, three pills could win you the Championship, but the fourth pill might kill you - an athlete seeking an edge will take five...and his rival six.
I do like what you say about sport never truly being "fair". It isn't, and never will - but I do think it is the responsibility of the stewards of all sport to do what they can to make it as fair, and as safe, as possible. That's why we need strong anti-doping policy - not just in MLB (and others - why the NFL gets a free pass with a doping culture that dwarfs MLB's, I'll never know), but for MLB to be part of a cross sport, cross regional strategy.
Edited by Fred not Lynn, 30 March 2010 - 01:01 AM.