Nobody should be surprised about the two latest positive test results. I listened to an interview of a player not too long ago (the player’s name slips my mind right now), but he said at one point he believed that 90% of players were on some sort of PED. That’s nine out of ten players! Shouldn’t it be the other way around? It was so prevalent in the game, to think the problem would just go away with a snap of the fingers, was not realistic.
The bottom line is that when money is at stake, there will always be people looking to gain an advantage. It doesn’t matter what business they’re in, they will do whatever it takes, even if it involves breaking the rules. On Wall Street, there is insider information. In casinos, people try to count cards. In school, students pay other students to take their SAT exams. Let’s face it, cheating is happening all around us. There are rules in place to try and limit the amount of cheating, but where there are rules, you will always have people willing to bend those rules. They will bend them, to the point of breaking them, in order to gain an advantage.
The reason why baseball will never be able to rid itself of this disease of PEDs is because there is just too much money at stake for these players. The people that produce these drugs understand that. Let’s not forget that they are in business for themselves as well. If they want to stay in business, they have to stay ahead of the curve with masking agents to counteract the testing for PEDs.
Let’s look at it from a player’s perspective. Hypothetically speaking, if you had to pay someone $1 million to mask your PED usage, but you were being paid $10 million per year due to your enhanced performance on PEDs, but without PEDs, you might only make $4 million per year due to lower performance, which would you choose? If the player invests $1 million to cover up the PED usage, their salary increases by $5 million. Not a bad investment. Now factor into the equation that other players are already doing this. Your performance when you are not using PEDs looks so inferior when compared to your peers on PEDs, that you may lose your job. Would you consider PEDs now? It’s easy to see why this is so tempting for players (not that I would ever condone it).
Baseball has to accept the fact that PEDs will always be around as long as large amounts of money are at stake. It’s just human nature to try and gain a competitive edge, and this is survival of the fittest to the extreme. The only way to rid baseball of this disease would be to come up with a vaccine, not a band-aid. This isn’t a boo-boo, it’s a disease. The testing and subsequent 50 game ban that comes with a positive test result today, is merely a band-aid for the problem. The fact that people are still being caught is proof of that. The penalty of a positive test result is still not serious enough to deter a player from taking the risk of using PEDs, especially when seeking out a multi-million dollar contract.
The vaccine, and ultimate end of PEDs as we know them, would be a lifetime ban from baseball if caught using PEDs. Give all cheaters the Pete Rose treatment. That is the stance that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA should take if they really want to put an end to PED use. Some cases of PED use would still rear their heads from time to time, even if a lifetime ban hangs in the balance. No matter how harsh the penalty, there will always be people willing to push the envelope. But if a lifetime ban doesn’t put a stop to all PED use, then I don’t think anything will.