All of the discussion about the latest Major League baseball drug suspensions is as Yogi would say,” Deja Vue all over.” Performance enhancing drugs has been around since man began competing against each other for sport. They will always be a part of athletic competition in some form, despite best efforts to stop their use.

Go back to the ancient Greeks athletes who were given honey as a carbohydrate boost or Roman gladiators who gulped stimulants, including caffeine and strychnine to improve performance. Man has always looked for an edge, some natural and some artificial.

Today in professional sports the competition for a roster spot, the money and endorsement deals are so great that some athletes feel they cannot afford to “not” take performance enhancing drugs. In some cases it’s the older athletes who feel the “juice” will keep them in the game longer and make them wealthier.

Take a Lance Armstrong who basically figured out how to cheat the system to the tune of seven consecutive Tour de France wins. Armstrong broke all the records and then had them stripped from his resume and his name is now infamous as opposed to famous. Was it worth it? I’m guessing Armstrong would secretly feel yes.

Not to tell tales out of schools, but I have heard stories from former Buffalo Bills who have discuss what teammates took steroids over the years to get an edge. I don’t know for a fact, but my guess is the front office knew who was “juicing” and who wasn’t and they were not going to be the ones to blow the whistle.

There have been tragic outcomes for athletes who have “juiced” like Lyle Alzado who died from brain cancer at the age of 43. Alzado became an advocate against steroids after his diagnosis was attributed to “juicing”. Few listened.

Even the story a few ago that NHL players were taking several sudafed tablets before games to give them an energy boost is an example of any little bit helps. Or distance runners who drink four or five cups of coffee to get a caffeine boost is another.

There are some who feel professional sports should let competitors take whatever they want because if some cheat then the rest are at a competitive disadvantage. The theory is that any health risk is on them. That school of thought will not prevail however because it lacks complete regard for the humanity of the athletes.

Today’s banned substance may be on tomorrow’s okay list, or today’s okay list may have substances that are later found to be harmful. Athletes are willing to roll the dice for glory or to just make the team, always been that way and always will.

It will be a perpetual cat and mouse game where the science of detection will try to stay one step ahead of the cheaters.


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