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Performance-Enhancing Drugs Action

Performance-Enhancing Drugs Resources

League of Fans' Position on the Use of Steroids and other Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sports

On January 13, 2005, Major League Baseball announced its new policy regarding steroid testing of players and penalties for failed tests. League of Fans believes that although the new policy without a doubt represents a step in the right direction, it is a very small step that may reduce the performance-enhancing drug problem but will not likely rid baseball of it.

The testing procedures appear to be a strong point of the new rules. MLB will now conduct an undisclosed number of random tests during the season in addition to one random mandatory test per player. Although there is no provision for testing all players in the offseason, random offseason testing of an undetermined number of players will be conducted in baseball for the first time, regardless of where players travel.

The major problem with MLB’s new policy is that the penalties are extremely weak for offenders. Penalties include a 10-day suspension for a first positive test, increasing to one year for a fourth positive. Such paltry penalties are no match for the competitive and financial pressures on players to gain an edge, and will not restore the full confidence of baseball fans that what they are watching is fair play.


League of Fans' Position on the Use of Steroids and other Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sports (from previous writings)

The use of steroids and other substances to enhance performance robs sports competition of any semblance of fairness. Fans, athletes and sports governing bodies need to defend the integrity of sports. They should hold accountable the athletes who use performance-enhancing substances (PESs) as well as those who help them cheat. This is vitally important for the well-being of spectator and participatory sports around the world.

Fair play and cheating aside, there are other reasons why using substances to enhance sports performance is wrong and justifies accountability. Those who use PESs risk severe physical and behavioral health problems, and in some cases even death. The health risks that go along with some widely illegal PESs, such as anabolic steroids, are well-known. But less known are the long-term risks associated with unregulated PESs that are relatively new and readily available throughout much of the world. Athletes, as well as adults and adolescents in the general populace, are the test subjects for these substances, using them with no guarantees of safety, effectiveness or even ingredients.

Privacy rights and personal choice -- what people put into their own bodies is their own business -- are used as arguments against any attempt to rid sports of PESs. In most situations in life and work, these arguments would be valid. But not in this case. Athletes who use PESs to gain an advantage over competitors in turn pressure those competitors -- if they want to win or remain at the same competitive level -- to use PESs as well. This scenario is especially evident in professional sports and international events such as the Olympics, where livelihood, prestige, paychecks or endorsement contracts depend on winning and superior athletic performance.

Problems relating to the use of PESs are not limited to professional or otherwise elite athletes. Adolescents who wish to emulate their athletic role models believe that they can accomplish their goals by ingesting or injecting PESs. There is evidence that the health consequences of PES use are more severe for adolescents because of the natural physiological transition of the body. Steroids, for instance, are known to interfere with -- and can actually stunt -- adolescent growth.

Certainly, some of the blame for fostering substance use in athletes must be placed on sports cultures with misguided "win-at-all-costs" attitudes. But individuals and groups also should be held accountable: governmental regulatory agencies, professional sports leagues and governing bodies, professional athletes and athletic trainers, and drug producers and marketers. Adolescents may not understand the health consequences of PESs, but they are well aware of what their athletic role models are using or endorsing and where they can make purchases legally or otherwise.

Without accountability for PESs, we are robbing young people of their health and safety, and cheating fans and competitors of sports integrity. And cheating has no place in anything we call sport.

Authored by Shawn McCarthy, director of League of Fans

League of Fans
P.O. Box 19367
Washington, DC 20036