Banned Substances in Baseball

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Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) have been around as long as competitive sports. History shows that since the early 1900s, Olympic athletes have been mixing their own concoctions that they believed would enhance their athletic performance. A near-lethal mixture of brandy and strychnine was used by an Olympic marathon runner in 1904.

By 1928 the International Association of Athletics Federation became the first international sporting federation to prohibit doping by athletes; this is the governing body for track and field.

However, in 1958, the FDA approved the first anabolic steroid for sale in the United States, and that changed the face of sports forever. While official drug testing at the Olympic Games began in 1968, a reliable test for anabolic steroids wasn’t developed until 1975, and the substance was quickly added to the banned substances list.

While most banned substances were only applicable to Olympic athletes, in 1990 Congress passed the Anabolic Steroids Control Act, placing this substance in the same legal class as amphetamines, methamphetamine, opium and morphine. The following year Major League Baseball banned steroids. The MLB commissioner during that time has said that he banned steroids largely due to the rumors of Jose Canseco’s use of the substance, even though he didn’t really know anything about steroids at the time.

In 1997, the new MLB commissioner reiterated the ban on steroid use, reminding teams of the ban. The following year, the world watches as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire engage in the famous slugfest that ends with McGwire hitting a record 70 home runs in a single season. McGwire admits to using a steroids precursor, however because MLB is not enforcing penalties with the steroid ban at that point, McGwire is not penalized.

In 2002, Ken Caminiti grants an interview to Sports Illustrated where he admits to using steroids during his 1996 National League MVP season, and estimates half the players in MLB also use steroids. This puts pressure on MLB to test for steroid usage. Later that year, MLB includes “survey testing” in the labor agreement for the following year in order to gauge the use of steroids among players, without punishment.

Because of the high number of positive tests from the 2003 MLB season, random testing with penalties enforced begins in 2004. The testing program is strengthened in 2005 and extended for three more years. During this timeframe, Barry Bonds breaks the all-time home run record leading to speculation of steroid use even though he passes drug tests administered by MLB. In 2011, Bonds was found guilty of lying about steroid use.

In 2008, Roger Clemens fights charges that he was injected with Human Growth Hormone and testosterone during his MLB career. The following year, MLB shows they mean business when they suspend Manny Ramirez for 50 games without pay after a failed drug test.

Since 2010, numerous scandals have broken with former MLB players admitting to steroid and drug use. Records have been stripped and indictments have been handed down. However, players are still using PEDs and still getting caught (or not).

As of 2013, the random, in-season drugs tested for in MLB include human growth hormone, testosterone testing, testing for steroids, testing for any Schedule II substances listed under the Controlled Substances Act (such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, etc.).

Players who are found to be violating the drug policy will be punished. They will suffer suspensions, fines and loss of salary for games not played.

It’s always disappointing to a fan when their favorite player is found “cheating” using PEDs. With stricter policies and harsher penalties MLB is proving it is taking this issue more seriously. The question is, will all this make the players think twice about using PEDs?

http://sportsanddrugs.procon.org/view.timeline.php?timelineID=000017

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banned_substances_in_baseball_in_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Baseball_drug_policy

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  • Ashley Hewitt
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