It seems that nary a week goes by without another player being indicted on, or at least suspected of, charges of using PEDs. While the juicers', and their suppliers' house of cards, fell in the MLB, PED investigations and suspensions have now proliferated to the NFL, professional cycling, and other sports.
One thing is clear: These substances, the people who use them, and the people who distribute them are not going away.
Every conviction represents just a drop out of the vast ocean purists believe professional sports are sinking in.
There may only be one solution: Legalize performance enhancing drugs.
It may not be a perfect fix. But, it would end the tiresome finger pointing, rumor generating, asterisk affixing, and 1940's style blacklisting that has been running rampant in professional sports today.
The argument to legalize, and regulate, these performance enhancing drugs is similar to the argument for the legalization of controlled substances, such as marijuana:
1) There is no stopping it completely. Sure, the War On (Performance Enhancing) Drugs has garnered a few victories, but those are few and far between compared to the holes in the system that allow PEDs to enter our prized athletes' bloodstreams.
Athletes, in general, are adored by their fans. They are idolized by young children. The truth, however, is that just because they are rich and talented, does not mean that these are inherently "good" people.
In fact, their fame and fortunes often lead many athletes to become drug and alcohol users, female and spousal abusers, adulterers, conceited, selfish, jaded, narcissistic, or all of the above.
Take your pick.
Reading the newspapers or watching ESPN, it seems that there are very few athletes who can even qualify as decent, much less heroic, figures.
Maybe the athletes are changing. Or maybe, like how the brightest of lights bring out flaws in even the smoothest skin, the media evolution allows us just too close of a look for us to retain the puppy-saving ideal citizen image we have of our favorite sports figures.
2) Regulating performance enhancing drugs would even the playing field. Teams already have their own nutritionists, weight trainers, medical staff, and high tech facilities that allow their players to achieve physical results far beyond the normal Joe six-pack is capable of. Performance Enhancing Drugs merely widen the gap between the mortal and the superhuman.
In the MLB's Mitchell Report, over 87 players were specifically named as relating to steroids, and steroid based offenses. Superstars like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro were mentioned on this list. No-names like Todd Pratt and Hal Morris also appeared in the report.
This is evidence that steroids alone cannot turn an average player into a star.
More recently, NFL players have been caught up in the PED storm.
Brian Cushing, the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009, was recently suspended four games for his involvement with PEDs. However, upon a re-vote, Cushing was still awarded Rookie of the Year honors.
This is a sign that not only are PEDs widespread in the NFL, but people know it. They are even beginning to accept it.
In one NFL player's opinion, PED use is as low as 15 percent amongst players. In another current players estimate, it is as high as 30 percent.
If this is the case, and who would know better than the athletes themselves, then why have only a few players been charged?
Major league organizations know they are selling a spectacle. They can't make the players donate to charity, give autographs, or even acknowledge a fan's presence.
But, they can provide an awe-inspiring show of athletic ability, strength, and power.
3) While it may be a cynical and jaded outlook on sports, sooner or later, this performance enhancing drug situation will be hit head-on. If PEDs were regulated, at least fans wouldn't have to wonder if their favorite players were secretly juicing.
Their wouldn't be a cloud of doubt over what the players were doing.
Then, more focus could be spent on keeping PEDs out of players' bodies at the collegiate and high school levels, where the love of the game and the purity of the sport, outweighs the love of money and marvel.
This may even heighten the popularity of amateur sports, as purists would still get a thrill out of watching games fueled solely by sweat and determination.
Regulating steroids would also make the players who voluntarily refuse to take PEDs look like heroes, as opposed to the media singling out a few villains.
Just my two cents. Hate away. I know you want to.
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