April 14, 2021

Cheaters in professional sports, what to do with them

This archived article was written by: Nate Davis

Rafael Palmeiro is the latest in a new list of MLB players tested positive for steroids. Palmeiro was caught cheating, whether he knew it or not, he did take steroids.
What is the punishment for cheating in baseball you ask? Palmeiro was given a ten-game suspension. That’s right, ten games, which is not nearly enough of a punishment for players who test positive for banned substances.
If I applied for a job today and was hired, I could be subject to random drug testing. If I failed one test, regardless of what excuse I had–even if I swore that I had thought that I was taking flaxseed oil–I could and should be fired. Not given a ten-day vacation.
Under the current steroid policy, your first offence you receive a ten game suspension, your second positive test gets a thirty-day ban, the third time you test positive for steroids, you are suspended for sixty days and finally if you test positive four times, you are banned for one year. The steroid penalties in Europe are much more severe.
Adrian Mutu, a professional soccer player in Europe, tested positive for drugs in late May 2004. He was banned by FIFA, (the governing body of soccer) for one year. This ban was in all of Europe so he was not able to move to a different country and continue to play professionally there. In the United States we need a significant punishment for athletes who fail drug tests, not a non paid vacation.
The NFL has the strongest steroid policy of the four major professional sports leagues. But even it has improvement to do. By the NFL’s standards you are suspended for a full year on your third offence not your fourth as in baseball.
The policy in basketball had previously been referred to by lawmakers as the weakest, but Commissioner David Stern has proposed a new punishment: a ten-game suspension for a first offense much like baseball, but for the second offence a player would be suspended for 25 games and if a third offence took place, a player would be disqualified from participating in the NBA with possible reinstatement in two years. The new plan was discussed during a meeting on June 30th. The NHL doesn’t test for steroids.
I would now like to turn from Palmeiro and steroid punishments to Barry Bonds. Bonds has been in the spotlight of the steroid investigations since December of last year when it was leaked that he had testified to a Grand Jury that he had in fact used steroids.
Bonds claims he was not aware that the substances his trainer, Greg Anderson, gave to him contained steroids. He was quoted saying “I never asked Greg. When he said it was flaxseed oil, I said, whatever.” A year earlier Bonds remarked to a reporter that it would be impossible for him to unknowingly take steroids.
Also during the hearings, other players testified that the reason many big named players chose Anderson as their trainer was because of the success that Bonds had with him.
Gary Sheffield also told the Grand Jury that he was not told that he was being given steroids they were referred to as Sheffield put it “the cream” and “the clear” also he said that he never did business with Anderson personally but it was through Bonds that Sheffield got “the cream” and ” the clear”.
Finally I would like to leave you with a question to think about. How unusual is it that Bonds has been able to put up good numbers while he is in his 40s? Most players in their 40s are either retired or should be.
Bonds has been able to put up unbelievable numbers. He started working with Anderson the year that he broke the single season home run record in 2001.
The current steroid policy in America is not doing the job. It is a joke; athletes are still using performance-enhancing drugs and records are being broken by cheaters.
We need a strong punishment for these players not a light slap on the wrist. Palmeiro, Bonds and others are like little children; they need a harsher punishment than being sent to their room.

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