Performance-enhancing drugs have been part of sports for decades, though the problem has become more scientifically advanced in the last 20 years. The big uproar started in baseball, with Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds launching home runs to the moon (and breaking cherished records) with the help of performance enhancers. More recently, Alex Rodriguez has been accused of cheating, after he supposedly stopped using steroids. While MLB has a better drug testing program than most sports, the pharmacists seem to be several steps ahead of the commissioner.
The PED issue is a concern in multiple sports. Boxer Juan Manuel Marquez became incredibly ripped at age 39, with the help of a known steroid coach; he showed new knockout power on his way to demolishing Manny Pacquiao. Cyclist Lance Armstrong finally admitted medicinally-enhanced cheating that enabled him to win multiple Tour de France titles. At age 37, Super Bowl champion Ray Lewis recovered from a torn triceps in 10 weeks — an injury that normally takes six months to deal with.
In some cases, the cheaters have been caught. In others, the athletes are merely suspected cheaters. For some fans, drugs have tarnished modern sports, while others feel that they’re just part of today’s game. How do you feel about the matter?
Bill Simmons wrote an outstanding column on PEDs in sports and how the issue isn’t really being dealt with. He wrote, “I don’t even know what I am watching anymore.” And while the issue is quite complicated, it can really be summed up in that one sentence for many sports fans.
While performance-enhancing drugs are rapidly becoming more advanced, the governing bodies of most major sports are moving at a much slower pace. Let’s use boxing as an example. Most drug testing is handled by state commissions and a simple urine test is used. Organizations like VADA have exponentially more advanced techniques that cover a wide array of performance enhancers, yet most fights use tests that are easily beat. Off the top of my head, I only know of one boxer (Nonito Donaire) that subjects himself to random VADA testing 365 days a year. VADA is great for the sport and is relatively inexpensive, but due to politics and greed it isn’t being used for more fights.
Then there are the sports journalists. The issue of PEDs is covered every now and then, but it’s often handled with a gentle touch. On one hand, writers and broadcast journalists don’t want to offend the people and sports that they’re covering. Losing access would make their jobs incredibly difficult. On the other hand, the issue is arguably so big that more journalists should be doing more to help clean up sports.
Some fans dismiss modern PEDs as simple evolution. They point to the fact that many hall-of-fame athletes used amphetamines, commonly called “greenies,” from the ’60s on. They believe that steroids and HGH are modern-day tools that athletes use to get an edge, no different from the use of greenies back in the day.
Others feel that advanced medicine has tainted sports. Like Simmons wrote, many fans feel, “I don’t even know what I am watching anymore.” Cynical fans believe that most athletes cheat and that modern sports are tarnished.
I’d love to hear your take on the issue. Kindly vote in today’s poll and leave a comment with your view on PEDs in today’s sports.