A shadow continuing to haunt MLB

In case you’ve just emerged from under a huge rock, let me tell you a little secret. Major League Baseball has a huge steroid problem. A problem so big that government intervention is needed.

Major League Baseball has proven that it cannot police itself. As of 2002, it had no official steroid policy at all–none!

This is ironic because in the past seven years, the home run record that stood for 37 years has been broken not once, not twice but three times. Ironic that in 2003, the first year of widespread testing, as many as 84 players tested positive for steroid use. This is an average of three players per team.

Baseball players and owners recently agreed to a new steroid policy that would be more stringent than those of the past. However, do not applaud baseball too quickly.

In a 2005 Associated Press article, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Dr. Gary Wadler has called this policy “somewhat disingenuous” and “a Band-Aid.” Wadler criticized that amphetamines, which many people familiar with baseball consider to be a much greater problem than steroids, are not on the banned substances list.

Wadler is absolutely right.

If baseball is serious about getting rid of steroids, why is its policy not only more lenient than other major sports, but also minor league baseball’s steroid policy is noticeably tougher.

In the minors, a first-time steroid offense will get you a 15-game suspension. A second offense results in a 30-game suspension. In the majors, the first offense warrants a 10-day suspension, while a second offense results in a 30-day suspension. It seems that steroids are less important as soon as more TV and endorsement money starts to come in.

Another reason government involvement is needed is that so many MLB players are foreign-born. As of April 2003, 27.8 percent of MLB players were born outside of the United States. This is the seventh consecutive year that this number has risen.

The new steroid policy creates an additional program of testing randomly selected players. This is great, but how often are MLB officials honestly going to travel the world in search of foreign-born players who own homes in their native lands, or may decide to take their millions of dollars and go on vacation? How often are officials going to travel to the Dominican

Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba, Germany, Australia, Japan or even Colombia to administer these tests?

The pope doesn’t travel that much!

It seems absurd that MLB officials would suddenly decide to accumulate those kinds of frequent flyer miles.

Don’t let Major League Baseball pull the wool over your eyes. This policy is a sorely needed upgrade to the old steroid policy. However, with suspensions laughable when compared to its own minor leagues, a hard-to-enforce testing policy and an untrustworthy

track record, baseball needs to stand tough against the many drugs that have infested the game.

Contact Kyle Hopewell at thefamuansports@hotmail.com