Zero Tolerance Is the Only Way to Eliminate Steroids

By Greg Moore
Updated: November 16, 2007

MLB And PillsSAN ANTONIO, TEXAS —Major League Baseball is full of something and it is not common sense. Maybe Bud Selig is taking a few steroids himself and that is why his brain cannot function on this issue. Maybe the MLBPA and its cronies have taken something because they are too blind to see that the current drug policy that has now been implemented after five to seven percent of all MLB players tested positive for steroid use is a farce. School districts have stricter drug policies than what ‘America’s pastime’ dreamt up over a cup of coffee and a few Krispy Kreme doughnuts. However, let us not just stop there because as far as this writer is concerned, all the professional leagues have a long way to go to clean up their drug policies and there is only one answer to how to solve this issue; zero tolerance.

Why is this such a big deal now when probably the media has been harping on the fact that dope scandals are very prevalent for years? Because of one designer steroid, THG. What is THG and why are professional athletes like Barry Bonds, Bill Romanowski, and others who live in the San Francisco Bay area caught up in this scandal? Because of one man; Victor Conte.

Conte isn’t the only person behind this scandal of an anabolic steroid but he is the focus of this particular case. It is ironic how this became known as well. An unidentified track coach sent a syringe full of THG to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. One official as “the heart of a widespread conspiracy involving chemists, coaches and athletes” has categorized it. A grand jury has been convened in the Bay area to handle this case and high profile athletes from all sport genres are being subpoenaed for the case. Those have included Bonds, Romanowski, Marion Jones and others.

But what is truly troublesome is how MLB has decided to take a liaises-fair attitude towards the use of steroids and implemented this sham of a test that is just, well, asinine. Does Selig honestly believe that the sporting public is going to buy the fact that baseball is trying to clean up its act? Let’s be real about the situation for a moment. Major League Baseball does not give one plumb nickel about its players when it comes to substances because if that were the case, why are athletes allowed to use tobacco products. Because there is a mindset in this country that thinks that cancer of the lip and throat are not as life threatening as maybe testicular cancer or brain cancer. Moreover, just as with the tobacco products, the league is trying to do a public relations ploy and pacify those who are barking the loudest.

THE NFL/NBA ARE CLOSER TO ZERO TOLERANCE The policies of the NFL and NBA are better than what MLB has instituted but maybe it’s because those problems have been on the front burner for some 20 years or so. The NBA’s policy is strict. If a player is found to be ‘positive’ for a steroid in the NBA under it’s anti-drug policy procedures, that player must serve a five game suspension and then enter into the league’s drug prevention program. The NFL’s rules are similar to that of the NBA’s but they also make sure that the player’s confidentiality is strictly enforced.

This week four players, Romanowski, Dana Stubblefield, Barrett Robbins and Chris Cooper are expected to be suspended by the league for use of THG. It also marks the first time that four players from the same team have been caught using performance enhancement agents.

The program developed by MLB is so laxed that it does not even take into any consideration of what happens if a player fails to comply. In other words because the ramifications for being found taking steroids is so lenient, players are likely to continue to use them and just pay the penalty when that time arises.

ZERO TOLERANCE NEEDS TO BE ENFORCED Anti-doping policies need to be much more stringent in the sports world and they should reflect what the rest of society is doing. If that sounds like a statement, you have heard before it probably is and it is a statement that is so true to what needs to happen. Steroid use in athletics has some major ramifications and you would think that the owners, agents and players would be willing to adhere to strict guidelines and keep their respective sports free and clear of dope fiends. Zero tolerance for drug use of any sort, except as prescribed by a licensed physician, should not be this big pillow fight that seems to have more sides than an octagon. If strong drug policies are agreed upon by the ownership, the players’ union wants to come in and say that it is an infringement of constitutional rights of the players.

The only way drug policies in sports will work is for those who have the power to make decisions to start using some common sense and realize that sometimes you have to give up a few ‘liberties’ in order to better the sport. The players’ union for MLB needs realize that there are players much younger than the millionaires who are reading this situation very closely. Right now, there is probably high school and college baseball players realizing that if they make it to the big show, they can use products like THG and not face any serious penalties. They are also noticing that chewing tobacco is fine with the league as well. Now that is a very different subject but still tobacco is also addictive because it is not a natural chemical of your body.

If baseball were truly serious about cleaning up the steroid problem they are now facing, both ownership and the players would sit down and say, “Okay we need a zero tolerance program or something that sends a message.” They need to send a message to violators and the only way you can honestly stop the use of steroids in baseball is to treat the violators harshly. We see what protecting their identity has done after just random testing; between five to seven percent of the players use steroids. Now maybe it is time to ‘unmask’ the users and let them face the humiliation of the public knowing who they are.

What the sports world needs to realize is that you cannot treat drug addicts, even those who take steroids, with kid gloves. You have to get down and fight nasty. If baseball really wants to show that they care about the players and if the union really wants to protect the players, then both sides need to realize there is a major problem and that offenders are not going to get baby treatment. They do not such things in the real world and it is time the sports world come up to speed with the rest of us. It might just save somebody’s life if this genre does.