By David Rudick aka Rudickulous
Chalk up another career ruined by the phenomenon known as steroids. You heard correctly folks, the world of sports was shocked once again, disappointed from the news concerning Melky Cabrera. Cabrera, an outfielder for the San Francisco Giants was in the process of having a breakout season and preparing for a big payday due to becoming a free agent this offseason. Unfortunately though, not only did he test positive for testosterone, but he even attempted to cover his own tracks by creating a fake website in an effort to protect himself from embarrassment. Now Cabrera is suspended for 50 games and possibly gone from the Giants for the rest of the season. What was once a heartwarming story of an overlooked player becoming a superstar, turned into a tale of a disgraced baseball player wondering now what his future holds for him.
It is no secret that sports have suffered a tremendous blow due to the controversy that is steroid use. In fact, it seems as though almost every single player who has accomplished any achievement nowadays has been seen with their hand in the metaphoric cookie jar. There was Ryan Braun, the reigning National League MVP, who was caught testing positive for abnormal amounts of testosterone, though later acquitted of punishment due to a technicality. Then there was Brian Cushing, the 2010 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year who was banned 4 games the following season after testing positive in a randomized drug test. The list goes on and on as there have been dozens upon dozens of superstars who have all tested positive or admitted usage of steroids in one form or another. Names like Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Marion Jones, Mark McGwire, Shawne Merriman, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, and Floyd Landis are all now forever entangled in the discussion of PEDs (Performance enhancing drugs) and these names are just the tip of the iceberg. Players like Guillermo Mota and Manny Ramirez have gone from professional athletes, to professional steroid joke punch lines.
Cabrera’s recent disappointment has opened up the hot topic question in sports once again: is the/have the (insert sport League/Association here) doing/done enough to prohibit the use of steroids in sports? It is an overstated question, but a legitimate one nonetheless. In a recent article published by USA Today, the co-founder of Blaco, Victor Conte stated that the current drug testing policy was simple to pass and that nearly all players today are using PEDs in one form or another. “To circumvent the test is like taking candy from a baby. It’s so easy to circumvent. I call it the ‘duck-and-dodge’ system. The only people that get caught are the dumb and the dumber.” These statements by Mr. Conte are taken very seriously by fans as the man is infamous for being the ringleader of the steroid controversy.
Sports reporters and analysts all have responded to the recent media attention that both Conte and Cabrera have garnered. Skip Bayless of ESPN, responded after hearing Conte’s remarks by stating that sports are not doing enough to keep the PEDs out, stating that punishment is too lenient. Yes Cabrera was suspended 50 games, but what is that in comparison to a 162 game season questions Bayless. “At the very minimum, the penalty should be, you’re gone for one full season…They have to crack down harder because it is a never ending battle.” Stephen A. Smith, in the same article disagreed with Bayless, stating that MLB has in fact worked hard towards preventing players from doping. Since the test was implemented back in 2006, as pointed out by Smith, MLB has created an effective steroid test procedure and has caught many superstars including Mike Cameron, Manny Ramirez, Jose Guillen, and other players resulting in a total of 13 suspensions. While Smith defends baseball and claims that they have made many steps towards preventing steroid usage, he agrees with Bayless by stating that the MLB needs to keep working in order to keep their sport clean.
Then there are people who question whether or not we should even care about steroids in sports. As we have seen, so many athletes use PEDs to become legends in their respective field. Perhaps comedian Daniel Tosh was correct when he joked that all athletes should take steroids. While a joke, it does bring up a different perspective to the argument. Almost everybody believes nowadays that athletes are taking something in order to achieve. In fact, any person can obtain these items and become great, be it an athlete or your average Joe. So what if people are taking drugs to increase their physique or ability; is that not what people watch sports for? Was it not long ago that the media was enthralled with Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa racing against each other for Roger Maris’ Home Run Record? Going one step further, was it not entertaining to see Barry Bonds try to catch Hank Aaron’s record (before the allegations started to appear)? Do steroids really matter in the game in the first place? There have been many who argue that even if somebody takes steroids, they still need skill and ability to hit a 100 mph fastball or break away from Offensive linemen, or whatever task a certain sport designates. Perhaps Americans should disregard the integrity of the sport?
As Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com explains in his article, Where’s the Outrage Over Steroids in Sports, Freeman recalls, “…something a Hall of Fame coach once told me. For every one or two PED cheats the NFL catches, 10 go free. Maybe 20.” He goes onto explain that in the case of Brian Cushing, he should have received massive outcry from the public, blaming him for cheating, and have his award repealed due to his cheating. But yet, Freeman points out that as fans, “You still don’t care.” The fans just let Cushing slide and keep his title of Defensive Rookie of the year. Should we as fans just accept this? Have we just come to accept doping as a normal circumstance or should we rise in massive outcry?
It seems now that sports will always suffer from the blemish that is doping. Just like those old anti-drug commercials you use to see on television, it seems as though everybody else is doing it, so you should too. Many players will join in on the bandwagon and shoot up steroids, HGH, or whatever can make them bigger, faster, or stronger than their competition. Then there will be the athletes who we hope and pray to see. These are the current role models we pray for in professional sports. These people accomplish so much throughout their careers, clean and free of all accusations. Yet, it seems as though every time we see that player, it only leads to heartbreak, such as the case with Melky Cabrera. Until that day comes, one must hope for a solution to this ongoing problem. Then again, we could just all kick back and watch performance enhanced sports and bet on the ‘roided out freaks of nature.
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