Jordan SchroederENC 3241Daniel PowellMarch 10, 2013Performance Enhancing Drugs & Major League BaseballAbstractIn the mid-1990s Major League Baseball experienced a nearly instantaneous change inthe way the game was played. The days of pitching duels, shut outs and complete gamesseemed to be a trend quickly becoming extinct. The Home Run had become king of baseball butthe feats accomplished by some of the baseballs best at the time became highly scrutinized inthe early 2000s. A myriad of scandals and investigative reports revealing the widespread use ofPerformance Enhancing Drugs throughout the baseball community shook the baseball worldand tarnished the reputation of Major League Baseball and many of its greatest players.Since then the MLB has come a long way. Through testing, strict penalty and harshpublic scrutiny, PED use in the MLB has shrunk incredibly from a game once saturated by it toone in which scandal is rare.History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in the MLB
Long after greats such as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Roger Maris and Willie Mays hadcome and gone, Major League Baseball faced a new era of baseball; an era in which the longball reigned supreme. While the aforementioned were all exceptional Home Run hitters, theywere aberrations. They dominated, they stood head and shoulders above their competition.They were men amongst boys.In this new era of baseball these preeminent figures made not have stood out soprominently, in fact, they may not have stood out at all. They would have been just another oneof the many baseball players launching balls out of the yard like childs play and putting upgaudy season Home Run totals.However, there will always be one major difference between Ruth, Aaron, Maris andMays and the free-swinging, big hitters of this new era. That difference is what makes all of theaccomplishments of the aforementioned greats even more impressive.That difference is steroids and that difference has marred the image of Major League.The Steroid EraThe Steroid Era, or The Home Run era, began sometime in the middle of the 90s. Someof leagues greatest Home Run hitters emerged during this time; hitters such as Mark McGwire,Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and, the poster child of steroid users in the MLB,Barry Bonds. One could argue the great Home Run Race of 1998 truly marked the beginning ofthe Steroid Era as the desire to break the once unbreakable records was at an all time high.In 1961, Yankees Right fielder Roger Maris set an all time record for Home Runs in a
season hitting 61 long balls. At the time Maris was the only player in history to hit over 60homeruns besides Babe Ruth, who had launched 60 homeruns only once in his career, in 1927(Baseball Almanac).It would take 27 years before another player would achieve the impressive feat ofhitting 60 Home Runs. In 1998, not one but two players hit 60 Home Runs, Sammy Sosa andMark McGwire. Not only did they both launch 60 big flies but they both beat Maris record of61; McGwire as Home Run champion putting up a prodigious 70 dingers. The unbeatable recordhad been beaten and convincingly but it would not stand for long.In 2001, Barry Bonds would go to hit 73 homeruns, a new MLB record. Since then noplayer has come within 15 homeruns of Bonds record.BALCO Scandal, Mitchell Report & Other Black-eyes for BaseballShortly after his record breaking season, Bonds integrity became compromised with theBALCO Scandal in 2003. BALCO was a vitamin shop that produced a steroid concoction that wasundetectable by MLB testing equipment and distributed the concoction to many professionalathletes.Bonds was called to testify at a grand jury hearing and denied knowingly taking any typeof steroid but conceded he may have taken a form of steroid under the impression it wasflaxseed oil and arthritis rubbing balm (Williams).In 2005, Jose Canseco released his tell-all book, Juiced. The book detailed the rise ofsteroids in the MLB and also cited many big name players as users.
In 2006, San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wadareleased Game of Shadows, a nonfiction book further detailing steroid use in baseball andfurther tarnishing the MLBs image.Perhaps the most damaging of all the literature against the MLB came in 2007 with theMitchell Report. George J. Mitchell led a 20-month investigation into PED use; investigatingfurther into the BALCO scandal, Signature Pharmacy and Kirk Radomski, a bat boy for the NewYork Mets and a known anabolic steroid distributor. The Mitchell Report details that mostmajor league players and managers were aware of the extent of PED use as made evident bythe following excerpt:The illegal use of these substances was not limited to the players who are identified inthis report. There have been many estimates of use. In 2002, former National LeagueMost Valuable Player Ken Caminiti estimated that “at least half” of major league playerswere using anabolic steroids. Dave McKay, a longtime coach for the St. Louis Cardinalsand the Oakland Athletics, estimated that at one time 30% of players were using them.Within the past week, the former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jack Armstrong estimated thatbetween 20% and 30% of players in his era, 1988 to 1994, were using large doses ofsteroids while an even higher percentage of players were using lower, maintenancedoses of steroids. There have been other estimates, a few higher, many lower, allimpossible to verify.In all, the report named 89 current and former MLB players most notably Hall of FameBallot Nominee David Justice, the record holder for consecutive Saves converted Eric Gagne,
three-time American League MVP and the only player to sign two $200 million contracts, AlexRodriguez and, arguably the best pitcher of the era, Roger Clemens (Mitchell) . Of the 13players to hit over 40 Home Runs that during the great Home Run Race season of 1998, 8 havebeen linked to PED use through testing, the Mitchell Report, admission or other sources(Bishop).In 2007, The New York Daily News reported Barry Bonds tested positive foramphetamines, a banned PED by MLB standards (Quinn). This effectively proved the leaguesbest power hitter (Bonds), starting pitcher (Clemens), closer (Gagne) and third baseman(Rodriguez) were all guilty of doping in some form at some point or another.Performance Enhancing Drugs in the MLB TodayWhile it is generally believed that PED use in the MLB is much less prevalent than in thepast, it is still far from extinct. In October 2011, one of the leagues budding young stars, RyanBraun, tested positive for unusual testosterone levels, a sign of doping, and was suspended 50games by the MLB.Braun immediately appealed the ruling and eventually won but Brauns hands may notbe entirely clean. Representatives for Braun argued protocol for handling urine samples had notbeen followed since the sample had been stored for 48-hours while waiting for a drop-offcenter to open (Belson and Schmidt). The argument created enough reasonable doubt as Braun
ended up winning the appeal by a 2 to 1 vote despite no evidence of tampering or motive totamper.Unfortunately for Braun, this would not be the only time he was accused of doping. Inearly 2013 The Miami New Times reported a Miami-area clinic, Biogenesis, had suppliedmultiple athletes of many different professional sports with a multitude of PEDs, from Human-Growth-Hormone to anabolic steroids. Of the countless names listed in the clinics client list afew names stood out: Blue Jays outfielder, Melky Cabrera (who was fresh off a 50 gamesuspension during the 2012 season), perennial power hitter, Nelson Cruz, habitual offender,Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun (Elfrink). So far no suspensions have been meted out to theaforementioned players.Nonetheless, the number of players being implicated to PEDs is nowhere near the 89named in the Mitchell Report six years prior. From 2005 (when the MLB first began drugtesting) to 2007, 18 players had tested positive and were suspended for using PEDs. From 2008to 2010, only nine major league players had been suspended for using PEDs. Of the nine onlyone was suspended for HGH: Manny Ramirez, who is now out of the league. Since 2011, nomajor league baseball players have been suspended by the MLB.The Future of Baseball and Performance Enhancing DrugsNo matter what preventative measures the MLB may take there will always be PEDs inbaseball. Currently the MLB uses a three-strike system for PED offenders (no pun intended).
First time offenders receive a 50-game suspension, a second offense is met with a 100-gamesuspension and a third offense warrants a lifetime ban from the MLB. The MLB and the MajorLeague Baseball Players Association have both considered increasing the penalties foroffenders but will not do so until, at the earliest, 2014 (Simon).Personally, I do not believe stricter penalties are feasible or even necessary. Often timessuspensions are due to performance enhancing drugs other then HGH, testosterone andsteroids but anti-fertility drugs or other drugs that imply steroid use but do not entirely provedrug use as a means to improve performance. Also, there are cases in which an athlete maytake a supplement not knowing it contains something on the MLBs banned substance list. Forinstance, the last player to be suspended by MLB, Ronny Paulino, was suspended for using dietpills to lose weight. After the suspension Paulino asserted he did not take the pills to gain anedge but accepted his suspension, nonetheless.Cases like this make me doubt the MLBPA would allow any remarkable increase inpenalty severity, especially in light of the Ryan Braun appeal victory. Though a jump from a 50to 75-game suspension may be plausible, the likelihood of a no-tolerance policy being enactedis slim to none.Not only is such a jump unlikely but it is also unnecessary. In recent years PED use in theMLB has been a declining trend. This may be in part to the stigma and negative publicityassociated with a failed drug test. Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Mark Mcgwireand Sammy Sosa have all, so far, been denied entrance into baseballs Hall of Fame despiteputting up gaudy numbers and being some of the leagues biggest, most influential names dueto their association with PEDs.
Major League Baseballs great players of today know that if they want to be held in elitecompany, to compared to the Babe Ruths and the Hank Aarons, they need to achieve withintegrity. They cannot take shortcuts, they must work and they must persevere.They must be aberrations, not cheaters because Major League Baseball and its fans donot take too kindly to cheaters.
BibliographyBelson, Ken, and Michael Schmidt. "Braun Wins Appeal on Positive Test and AvoidsSuspension." New York Times. (2013): n. page. Web. 9 Mar. 2013.Elfrink, Tim. "A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports Biggest Names." Miami New Times.(2013): n. page. Web. Mar. 2013.Mitchell, George. "THE MITCHELL REPORT: REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER OF BASEBALL OF ANINDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO THE ILLEGAL USE OF STEROIDS AND OTHER PERFORMANCEENHANCING SUBSTANCES BY PLAYERS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL." . N.p., 13 12 2007. Web. 9Mar 2013.Quinn, T.J. "Caught in the act". SI.com.Simon, Andrew. "Weiner Says Stricter PED Penalties a 2014 Issue." MLB.com. (2013): n. page.Web. 9 Mar. 2013.Williams, Lance, Mark Fainaru-Wada. "What Bonds told BALCO grand jury". San FranciscoChronicle."Year by Year Leaders for Home Runs." Baseball-Almanac. Baseball-Almanac, n.d. Web. 9 Mar