The big news on ESPN, CNN, Fox, Deadspin, and a number of other sources today is the brewing performance enhancing drug scandal in Major Leagues Baseball. Players like Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, and Bartolo Colon have all been implicated by one source or another (see above links) in the Biogenesis scandal.
What gives me a deep belly laugh in all of this is that people are acting like this is some kind of big surprise… AGAIN. A-Rod took PEDs? NOOOOOOOO, you don’t say!
Athletes in almost every pro sport have gotten bigger, stronger, and faster. Some have done it with training, eating right, and hard work. Others have used those same techniques, and added in PEDs to make their gains even better. That is the story we all know.
Of course when you add in the fact that the technology of performance enhancing drugs has consistently outpaced the ability to test and control for cheating, this means the opportunity to cheat is still there, and will be there, and that athletes are still taking it, and will take it in the future. Are we really to believe that these “20 players” about to be named are the only ones cheating?
The most recent MLB investigation once again shows just how difficult it is to actually catch someone cheating, if you don’t bring down an entire corporation. It also shows that potential 100 game suspensions are clearly not enough to dissuade these players from crossing the line, in some cases even after they have been caught once, and suspended for 50 games.
If you don’t believe me (someone who never took any PEDs) on how hard it is for pro leagues to actually catch cheaters with testing, check out this enlightening Joe Rogate podcast interview/conversation with Victor Conte, the man formerly behind Balco, who knows more about PEDs than 99.9999% of the people on this planet.
Warning: the video contains some colorful language, and stories.
The video is more than a year old, and it’s still incredibly illuminating. If you’ve got 2+ hours, give it a listen/watch.
Now, while ESPN is promoting the most recent Biogenesis scandal as possibly being the “biggest drug bust in sports history“, I have some VERY serious doubts. Due to the internal nature of MLB proceedings, the power of the player union, and our secretive court systems (especially when celebrities are involved) all combines to make me believe not much will really change.
Think about this: how much did we really learn, even when Congress got involved? Not much at all. If the MLB and its players won’t step forward on this issue, I fear it will never truly change. And the same is true in any other pro league.
In the end, some guys will probably get suspended here, it will be a big deal for a while, and a career or two might end. But then, just like it did last time, the PED scandal will fade, and baseball will return to normal. Then we can all forget that PEDs are probably way more more rampant than what is being reported in any professional league, and we can go back to pouring money into leagues that don’t really care if their athletes are cheating, as long as they LOOK like they care.
Sounds like fun.