With news that MLB is reportedly going after more than 20 players who allegedly received PEDs from a Florida based company named Biogenesis, we’re on the verge of what could be the largest performance-enhancing drug scandal in American sports history. Here are three knee-jerk reactions that offer you, the reader, blind rationalization and more questions than answers.
1. Complexity Creates Complacency: People incessantly cheat every day. Maybe you use the breakdown lane to get ahead of traffic (I hate you, by the way), or maybe you steal your neighbor’s Wi-Fi. Who knows? The argument against PED use in sports is simple: Chemical intervention subtracts from idealistic hopes of “purity” and seeing “the best man win” in a natural setting. But let me be honest: At this point, I cannot begin to understand the overwhelming minutia of the issue, or how deep it runs. Frankly, neither do you.
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The epidemic reminds me of the national debt. I’m informed about the basics; understand it’s a problem of great magnitude that affects posterities going forward; hope for pragmatic jurisprudence on the matter – all of that. But given that we don’t know where it starts, or where it ends, or how widespread and rampant PED use actually is, remedying the issue is a fool’s errand. What I do know is this: PED use will always exist. Is my refusal to repudiate that fact waving the white flag, or just a dude coming to terms and being realistic?
2. Guilty By Association: MLB is trying to impose 100 game suspensions here, which is the penalty for second time offenders. While certain players allegedly in question, like Alex Rodriguez, have admitted to PED use in the past, many have never been found guilty. Despite this, MLB is apparently charging one offense for lying about their link to Biogenesis and a second for the actual use. To be fair to the players, this methodology comes as redundant; like an insurance company nailing your premium for totaling your car and speeding, too. The logic is specious at best, and disingenuous at worst.
Look, as a 12-year-old, I was in no position to adjudicate on the cause of the home run surge during the summer of ’98, when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire captured America with record setting seasons. Those in position, namely the league and media, failed … and failed miserably. I’m not absolving the players here; in fact, I’m for a 100 game suspension on the first offense. Still, the policy in place is 50 games. And chicanery aside, dolling out 100 game suspensions to first-time offenders feels vindictive, like Sports McCarthyism, and a misguided way of earning America’s trust back.
3. Seriously, what are we really doing here, guys? My dirty secret: I enjoyed the summer of ’98. I enjoyed the David Ortiz Experience, even if his reputation has been somewhat sullied due to (unfounded) speculation of PED use. The worst part of this whole debacle is the hearsay … the uncertainty.
I’m not in the business of aimless conjecture, nor do I enjoy playing the “Do you think Adrian Peterson is juicing? What about Jeter? Kobe?” game with friends on a Saturday night at the bar for kicks. Not my bag. Alas, that’s the position fellow athletes (see Bonds, Barry) have put on their peers. Every athlete is guilty until proven innocent. I watch sports to be distracted from the everyday grind, not to be barraged with questions of morality or to play a massive game of “Clue.” Yet here we are, again, in the same position we’ve been in since the Mitchell Report.
Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__