Positive tests becoming too common in baseball

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

Add another strike against Major League Baseball, something they really can’t afford.

Alex Rodriguez first admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs on Feb. 9, two days after Sports Illustrated had first reported it. Rodriguez took the PEDs from 2001 to 2003 after he signed a monstrous contract with the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez said the reason he started using was because of the pressure put on him after signing the contract.

“When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure,” Rodriguez told ESPN’s Peter Gammons in an exclusive interview. “I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me, and I needed to perform and perform at a high level every day.”

This is just an addition to a growing list of baseball players that have used or been suspected of using banned substances. The list includes admitted users Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi and suspected users Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. The latter two helped bring baseball back to the national forefront in 1998 during their record-breaking home run chase.

Has baseball really done anything about the use of these substances? A little. They have beefed up steroid testing and imposed longer suspensions for testing positive for banned substances. But there still remains one big hurdle – the player’s union.

In 2003, MLB did a “survey,” and if more than 5 percent of the players tested positive for banned substances, there would be further steroid testing. Well, players knew when the tests would be, so they could “cycle” off of the substances and be clean for their test, and no further testing would be conducted.

Even though they knew the tests were going to happen, 104 people weren’t smart enough to get off what they were taking; one of them was Rodriguez. The players that tested positive pushed it over 5 percent, so testing has increased.

How could you fail a test you knew was coming when all you had to do was get off what you were taking a couple months in advance?

People claim that steroids don’t help baseball players because the sport is a lot of hand-eye coordination; I don’t buy it. Look at some of Rodriguez’s stats from 2001 to 2003; he averaged 52 home runs a season, and his slugging percentage was .615. His other 10 seasons he averaged under 40 home runs and a slugging percentage of .574. It’s an astounding difference. It’s hard to maintain that level for so long without any help.

Another example is Barry Bonds. In his 15 seasons before the 2001 season, he hit over 40 home runs four times, the highest being 49. He all of a sudden explodes for 73 home runs, and you expect me do believe he hasn’t taken anything? I don’t. Compare pictures of Bonds in his rookie season of 1986 and his record-breaking season of 2001. Heck, compare pictures from the mid-90s and 2001. Look at the difference. People are going to fill out when they get older, but he got huge, quickly. He admitted to using banned substances unknowingly, but I highly doubt that.

I’m getting sick of hearing about steroids in baseball and what MLB is failing to do about it. They have increased the ban from around 10 games to 50 for the first offense. That is still not enough. It should be a year for the first offense and then banned for life for the second offense. The second thing I think needs to be done is: don’t tell the players when the test is going to be.

I loathe Bud Selig because he tried to contract the Minnesota Twins, and he is dropping the ball big time on this.

I’m not sure what is going to make things change in the testing policies of MLB. Maybe a big name finally admitting to using banned substances will make the higher-ups at MLB admit there is a problem and change their policy. I have my doubts.

Rodriguez went on public television last year and said he has never used steroids or even thought about using them. I have a feeling a majority of players in baseball think about using them if they don’t already. A couple of trainers have come out recently and showed people how readily available steroids are.

People have always had their suspicions of steroid use in baseball, but things are getting out of control. Minor Leaguers think they need to use it to get into the big leagues and big leaguers think they need to take them so they can stay ahead of the game.

I’m starting to question everyone who says they don’t use steroids until someone proves me wrong.