The Biogenesis Blues
Published: Monday, September 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013 18:09
For me, this sporting summer has been about highs and lows. The high point of the summer was Andy Murray bringing the United Kingdom its first Wimbledon champion in 77 years, while the lowest points have been NFL players getting into various troubles from racial slurs to murder.
But what really drives me crazy is the ongoing issue of steroids in baseball. Last August, I wrote about how Derek Jeter’s miraculous return to form brought about questions of performance-enhancing drug use (Players’ Excellence Destroyed, Aug. 29, 2012). Now, it’s Alex Rodriguez, Jeter’s teammate, who is now being scrutinized
But before I get to Alex Rodriguez, let’s discuss Ryan Braun for a moment. Having evaded doping charges since 2012, he’s now suspended for the rest of the year.
He should also be tested for foot-in-mouth disease, for Braun claimed the collector in his 2012 drug test was anti-Semitic. I can’t stand racism in sports, but when Braun tried to save face by slandering an innocent man, he earned every bit of the negative publicity that continues to come his way.
Which now brings me to A-Rod. The Yankees third baseman is facing a 211-game suspension as a result of being linked to Biogenesis. Currently playing under appeal, A-Rod will be returning at the age of 40 if found guilty.
People talk about the records of baseball being tarnished by PEDs, but the bigger issue is it affects the public’s perception of players. Many people, including small children, see athletes like Rodriguez as role models. They hang their posters over their beds, buy replica jerseys and mimic how they play.
Last year, I wrote about cyclists in the Tour de France using steroids to perform better and being stripped of their titles. The fact that this was in the public’s mind was proven when a story written by a classmate in a journalism class quoted a student cyclist as pretty much saying if he wanted to be the best, he’d probably have to use them. Do we want all our young athletes thinking like this?
At least cycling has changed for the better. Since writing my column last year, there has not been a single report of an active cyclist using steroids. I could watch the Tour de France and take in the breathtaking scenery without worrying about guys “shooting up” while racing.
Cycling teams use “biological passports,” a combination of previous doping test results and biological marker profiles of doping put together, to keep track of their riders. Teams check these “passports” often, and if the markers have moved, it means the rider is either ill or doping. It could work in baseball as long as teams would do it, which they should if they don’t want to waste their money.
But would players agree to it? That’s the only issue, for while it’s their necks on the line, they might want to keep the current system and play under appeal.
Maybe one day baseball will take a page out of cycling’s book and utilize the “biological passport” idea. At least, I can look forward to each summer, so I can gaze at the breathtaking scenery of France, safe in knowing the guy who wins did it without PEDs.