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SPORTS: Steroid-induced shortsightedness


MULKEYTOWN, Ill. (BP)–Baseball players are forcefully — and finally — coming out against steroids.

The latest news is that BALCO, a San Francisco laboratory the feds are investigating, sent illegal steroids and human growth hormones to Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi, among other Major League players.

And although it has yet to be proven that these guys actually took the steroids, good luck finding anyone who believes their innocence.

“I mean, obviously he did it,” Colorado Rockies pitcher Turk Wendell said recently about Bonds. “[His trainer] admitted to giving steroids to baseball players. He just doesn’t want to say his name. You don’t have to. It’s clear just seeing his body.”

Others have joined the chorus as well, calling for better testing methods and harsher punishments for violators.

It’s about time.

For years, the players union strenuously opposed any type of steroid testing. Even in recent years, despite the increasingly louder calls for testing from fans and the media, the players remained firmly entrenched in their indefensible position of no testing.

Finally, just two years ago the players approved a steroid-testing policy for the first time — albeit one with no teeth to it. Under the current rules, a player must test positive for performance enhancing drugs five times before facing any serious disciplinary action.

Now the players are crying that the policy isn’t strict enough.

No kidding. Everybody else with any sense knew this when the owners and players agreed to it. But it took two years for the players to realize how incredibly ridiculous the policy was.

Players have the same short sightedness when it comes to salary caps. They throw a hissy fit when owners talk about instituting one, then complain about George Steinbrenner buying pennants by spending millions more than his competitors. They can’t have it both ways. The players union needs to start operating with a little common sense.

The present — and undoubtedly the future — well-being of the sport are at stake. Steroid abuse isn’t a minor issue that comes without consequences. All reports are that Bonds, Giambi and Sheffield aren’t the only ones to juice up, and that the problem is rampant throughout the sport.

At risk is the integrity of a classic game that is more closely tied to its heritage than any other sport. At risk is the support of the fans who pay the players’ salaries. And at risk are the lives of many — both the players taking the drugs and those standing on the pitcher’s mound only 60 feet away from huge behemoths whose line drives could be deadly.

I’m glad the players are finally waking up and making demands for a better steroid testing policy. But maybe they need to start paying attention to the fans — and even the sportswriters — a little more when it’s time for them to make other decisions. If they had listened two years ago, they wouldn’t be in the mess they’re in now.
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Tim Ellsworth is a regular columnist for BPSports, online at www.bpsports.net.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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