In what is already being referred to as the East Coast BALCO, the Miami New Times has published a bombshell of a report revealing that Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic not far from the University of Miami campus, has been supplying steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to athletes in numerous sports. The list of athletes to have visited this clinic included several prominent baseball players, including future Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez and suspended stars Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon.
Because baseball is held to a double standard that does not seem to apply to other sports (*cough* football), the critics have come out in full force claiming that the game is not doing enough to prevent players from doping. SI’s Tom Verducci marks this as the latest severe hit to the sport, while several outlets are calling for tougher penalties, apparently because the threat of a lifetime ban worked so well in cycling.
Maybe it is time for everybody to finally acknowledge the truth about PEDs: no matter how much we want them to, they are never going away.
Honestly, why are we surprised at this point? Athletes have been doping in one way or another almost as long as there have been sports. Ancient Greek and Roman athletes took a wide variety of potions and elixirs with an eye on winning in the Olympic games.
I’ve written elsewhere that first confirmed doper in baseball was Hall of Famer Pud Galvin, who openly used the Brown-Sequard elixir in an effort to improve his pitching. It is also safe to say that Galvin was far from the only player looking for an edge, considering that the 1894 Temple Cup (a forerunner to the modern World Series) was marred by a PED scandal.
Amphetamines were widely used in pro sports both before and after they were listed as a Schedule II drug in 1971. And both amphetamines and anabolic steroids were used at “alarming” rates in MLB clubhouses back in 1973, according to a government study cited in the Mitchell Report.
Does anybody really expect athletes to stop using PEDs, particularly with millions of dollars potentially at stake?
There are plenty of people who want to blame the testing systems whenever a player tests positive for a banned substance, with this being particularly true when it comes to baseball. But it is important to remember that no drug testing system is ever going to fully deter players from doping; there are decades of evidence across sports that can attest to that. Drug testing systems are simply a check on those who get caught violating the rules, which makes them no different from in-game umpires, referees, or other officials.
I can say with complete confidence that the East Coast BALCO scandal will not be the end of PEDs in sports. They will continue to be an issue as long as people continue to care about their usage. The only surefire way to fix the problem is to let everybody dope out in the open, which would also ensure that no athlete has an unfair advantage over anyone else. But since that does not appear to be an option, people should periodically expect PED scandals to hit the sports world.