From a Player

One of the more potent arguments against the use of performance enhancing drugs/products is that those who don’t use them are cheated out of an opportunity, like the pitcher who got cut when it was down to two players — that pitcher and one who is now on discipline from MLB but who didn’t get cut and made lots of money.

Here’s a player making the same complaint:

07:21 AM ET 08.06 | Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis chose not to hold his tongue. Markakis says the only way baseball will rid itself of performance-enhancing drugs is to stiffen its penalties, which he believes should, at the least, include a five-year suspension for a first-time offender. And, if Major League Baseball and the players’ union would ever consider a lifetime ban for anyone caught using PEDs, Markakis said he would “100 percent” support that proposal. … “They are taking opportunities away and they are basically stealing,” Markakis said. “Stealing money away from owners because they are basically purchasing damaged products. It’s not a good situation all the way around. And all of us that have done it the right way, we are going to suffer.”

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  • Darrin Snyder Belousek

    Thanks, Scot. As a life-long baseball fan and a former school player, I think PEDs are a scourge on the game. As the argument above suggests, PEDs are to sports as insider trading is to investing–a theft of opportunity from others in the game/market. I would add three other arguments. First, PED use deceives the fans: How do we differentiate between the real players and the fake players? How do we know what we’re seeing on the field is a real performance? Second, following on the first, PED use by some cast suspicion on all. Unless there is regular and rigorous drug testing and serious penalties to weed out the users, fans have no way of knowing who is using and who is not, who is pumping iron and who is popping pills. So, all players who excel are suspected of achieving ill-gotten gains, which is unfair to those who compete honestly. Third, following on the second, PED use eviscerates standards of excellence. When PEDs are in common use, we lose the ability to compare performances of today with performances from the past. And this strikes at the heart of the game as a tradition, as the handing down of athletic practices that require excellence of practitioners. In my mind, the season HR record still belongs to Roger Maris, whose performance set a mark that still has not been surpassed b/c all the recent HR record-breakers were PED-assisted. If we do not distinguish between “natural” performances and PED-assisted performances (i.e., if we recognize Barry Bonds as the HR record holder), we give up our ability to define excellence for future generations of baseball players. Not only is virtue indistinguishable from vice (first objection), not only does virtue suffer the same bad reputation as vice (second objection), but vice becomes virtue (third objection).

  • scotmcknight

    Darrin, and I agree with each of your points. It destroys the fabric of what sport is when one player’s physical condition transcends the natural. If everyone used PEDs it would be leveled but it would still destroy the game’s integrity, which is rooted in human accomplishments.

    One sad dimension for me: I’d like to know what Bonds or McGwire or Sosa would have accomplished had they been clean. Roger Maris still has the record me, too.

    Yes, baseball is a numbers game with comparison adding to the folklore. We’ll never know unless we ban all numbers from the 1970 or so to 2012/2013. Indeed, physical strength conditioning changed during this time, too, but wipe them all out and we can compare numbers realistically. George Foster’s numbers now look awesome. Hank Aaron was the mighty behemoth — called “Sup” by his teammates (for SuperStar). He really was.