These days it seems that baseball fans and more so sports media and popular media are circling like hawks for the discovery of the newest star associated with steroid use and beating war drums in the upcoming trials of Barry Bonds and Miguel Tejada and the future trial of Roger Clemens in a manner similar to that of paparazzi around LA's hotspots trying to capture the next embarrassing picture of Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan. Why? There are cries or cheating, of committing the felony of perjury and of giving back the records to people who should have them.
Let's examine some of those arguments:
Perception: Steroids have become available to athletes first time in the early 90s and the steroid era in baseball started about that time.
Truth: Anabolic Steroids came to the market in 1958 after Dianabol, manufactured by CIBA got approval by the FDA for use with elderly and burn victims. Its use was wide spread among bodybuilders and track athletes. The international olympic committee banned its use in 1976. So, potentially, baseball players in the 60s could have used steroids. Hank Aaron was in his 5th of the 23 major league seasons in 1958.
Perception: Steroids and other PEDs are available by seedy people who frequent gyms and street corners.
Truth: No. One can get them all over the internet (that was a working link for a site that calls itself an "online pharmacy" and actually sells PEDs out of the European Union; then I thought twice about putting that live link up).
Popular Opinion: Baseball Players are role models and the government should go out with all their resources to catch players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada and others who committed perjury.
My Opinion: The country is in a recession and going after baseball players is probably in the bottom list of the priorities here. People are losing jobs and homes left and right and that money is better spent for other reasons. As far as the role model bit, a president (who arguably should be held to higher standards that ballplayers as a role model), not only was never tried for perjury, but still holds his law practicing license (which is a no no for attorneys who committed perjury).
The bottom line:
Yes, steroids are bad and baseball players should not be using them. I wholeheartedly hope that the sport develops a new steroid policy that makes baseball a drug-free workplace (like most workplaces) and adopts the one strike, you are out policy of most workplaces and adopts a IOC-like testing methodology (including blood tests performed in unannounced variable intervals during the season and the off-season). If this is not done soon, it better be done by the CBA renewal after the 2011 season. This will cost money. That will be money better spent that prosecuting some of the steroid users, like they are attempting to do today. The government should try to close the loopholes of imported PEDs obtained over the internet (there are some heavy penalties associated with drug trafficking through the mail system and that is another more worthwile target than Bonds or Clemens or Tejara or Rodriguez). Live and let live. Whatever happened happened, these players did not did anything more wrong than Bill Clinton and now there is a chance for baseball and the federal government to stop looking backwards but start looking forward and learn the past lessons and try to stop future use.
What about records and asterisks? Who cares? Nobody can guarantee that ball players in the 50s did not take PDEs. Catchers and pitchers are reporting in 4 days...