Steroid use in Professional Baseball


The use of banned substances in major leagues allied with baseball has raised major. Some of the well-known and talented players have clearly and frankly pointed out that drugs are utilized by player of the game. David Wells explicated that 25 to 40 percent of the major players always employ the usage of drugs. These words were also echoed by Jose Canseco who through his book pointed out that 80 percent of the players were juiced. In fact, he pointed out that his success in the game was a result of the employment of steroids. He was not against the use of the steroids since he was a victim of the same.  This was the same case for Ken Caminiti who also explicated that has win in the 1996 league as the most valuable player (MVP) was as a result of using steroids (Hancock, 22). In 2009, reports pointed out that Alex Rodriguez had been using steroids. However, he had been using steroids referred to as PEDs during the previous professional years which made him to win the title of MVP in between 2001 and 2003.Rodriguez accepted that he had been using steroids. Mark McGwire had been using steroids for many years without being discovered. It is until January 201 that he accepted to have been using nit inly steroids but also human growth hormones on irregular basis for over 10 years. This includes the 1998 win when he set the single season home run record.

 Use of Steroids in the Early Years

Players have tried to employ strategies with the goal of enhancing their chemical advantage since the early years of baseball. In 1889, pitcher Pud Galvin was the first player allied with the game ho became known to the world as a user of substances that enhance performance. Thus he employed the usage of steroid and Brown-Sequard Elixir which is a testosterone supplement. This supplement was derives from the testicles of animals like guinea pigs and dogs. Through the book written by Allan Zullo, Bob Smith and Bruce Nash titled The Baseball Hall of Shame’s Warped Record Book has elucidates a detailed account of administration of an extract form the testicles of a sheep by Babe Ruth. Nevertheless, the concoction proved to be ineffective. Consequently, Ruth became ill. To cover up for this, the Yankees explicate his absence from the lineup to have resulted from stomachache.

During the Second World War, both the Axis and Allied sides administered amphetamines to the soldiers. This was with the rationale of enhancing their mental focus. When the war came to an end, soldiers who had been fighting in the troops attended college. With the reason that they had first-hand information and experience pertaining to the benefits of amphetamines; the employed the same knowledge for college sports. They escalated the same to professional sports including baseball. During the 1961 home run chase, Mickey Mantle won against Roger Marries through an attempt of employing steroids it is explained that a quack doctor administered a combination of several substances including amphetamines and other steroids that were mixed leading to the formation of a chemical cocktail. The cocktail was injected into his body (Hancock, 22).

Hank Aaron in his autobiography that was co-authored by Lonnie Wheeler titled I Had a Hammer, he pointed out that during the 1968 season, and he was given an amphetamine by a team whose name was not mentioned. He did not like the repercussions brought about by the drugs they it made him feel like he was having a heart attack. In 1967, Tom House who was a pitcher also accepted that he had been using steroids. House pointed out that the use of steroids during that time was prevalent among players. He elucidated this by pointing out that about 6-7 players on every time were experimenting the use of steroids or growth hormones. Thus, even when players did not win a match, they would not attribute that as to being beaten by the other team rather they would jokingly say that they had been out-milligrammed. This means that they had not taken in the right dosages of the steroids to make them win the match.

Mike Schmidt, who was an active player during in 1972-1989, accepted that he used amphetamine on several occasions in 2006. He elucidated that amphetamine was available to players in most of the club houses when he was playing as a professional. This former player accepted that t the use of amphetamine was very common and more established than the use of other steroids. In 2013, during an interview with Ken Davidoff, Goose Gossage accepted that he been using amphetamine during his career as a player. With respect to his views, amphetamine is does not have the capabilities of enhancing the performance. He also explained that the use of steroids was illegal at the time yet players still indulged in the same.

When the Pittsburg drug trials were carried out in 1985, some of the players accepted that they had been using amphetamines during their playing careers (Beck, 39). Among the players who admitted was Dale Berra who explicated that he had been using greenies when playing for both AA Portland Beavers and Pittsburg Pirates. He was able to access the drugs because they were being supplied by his teammates named John Willie Stargell and Bill Madlock. On the other hand, John Milner pointed out that while playing for the New York Mets, he had come across a powerful liquid amphetamine juice which he referred to as red juice in his teammate’s locker. Thus, in 1991, steroids were listed among banned substances in baseball. Nevertheless, testing the players for the same did not commence until 2003 (Steinberg, 28).

Investigations into the Use of Steroids

BALCO, which was a nutrition center, was accused of being the supplier of drugs to most of the talented players. This was marked by their supply of steroids and other drugs to Barry Bonds which led to the action of the Congressional panel. Baseball employed varied strategies with the aimed of controlling the use of steroids by the players. Accordingly, a tough policy in relation to the same was established. Consequently, players were tested on random basis. This led to players like Ryan Franklin being suspended for a period of 10 years. Conversely, the Congressional panel argued that the punishments being administered to those who tested were not tough. This led them to act. Thus, most of the top players like Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Canseco, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez were summoned. This was done on 17th March 2005 where the players testified before the Congress (kakutani, 46). The summoning of Schilling was with the reason that he public spoke against the use of PEDs.

When before the Congress, the players had varied takes with regard to the issue. Canseco admitted that he had been using the substances but countered his acts by pointing out that the use of steroids was not unlawful during his professional career as a player in the 1980s and early 1990s (McCallum, 43). On the other hand, Palmeiro did not accept ever using the drugs during his career as a player. For McGwire, he total refused to talk out on the issue. He claimed that it would be of no help him articulating anything out since he had already been considered guilty. He also saw no sense in talking about the past. McGwire and Palmeiro had been listed as users of the substances in the Canseco’s book. However, Palmeiro did not admit using the substances. He argued that the argument brought forth by Canseco had no base and were not to be trusted (McCallum, 44).

Aside from this, the committee argued that baseball had not been able to deal with the issues allied to the use of drugs that enhance performance (Hancock, 23). The committee pointed out that this was not right since most of the players were role models to the youths in the society. However, when they used drugs and other enhancing substances, a bad picture with regard to their persona was being portrayed. This would have not given the youth the right direction. The players who had been summoned offered their condolences to the youthful athletes in the game who had lost their lives as a result of using substances that enhanced their performance. The youths had lost their lives through committing suicide (Steinberg, 29).

Five months subsequent to the Congressional hearing, through the information availed to the public, pertaining to the tests that had been carried out, Palmeiro was found to have tested positive for the use of substances. Palmeiro knew this even the tie he had presented himself to the Congress. He appealed but he could not challenge the results of the tests. Consequently, he was suspended. Mark McGwire was in the right position to win the Hall of Fame Elections. He had all it took to win it. On the contrary, he did not make it for the elections during his first year. The voters were not on his side since he had refused to point out his stand with regard to the issue (Steinberg, 29).

Scandal Faced by BALCO

When the players were investigated by the Congress, it also summoned Victor Conte who was the head of BALCO and Greg Anderson who was Bond’s trainer. Due to the pressures placed by the Congress, Major baseball Players Association and baseball came up with more stern regulations. This was with the goal of creating zero tolerance policy in relation to drugs that enhance performance. In August of the year 2005, Palmeiro tested positive and was suspended for a period of 10 days. He was one of the players who were considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is because he was among the only four players who had both 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. This raised many questions pertaining to his legacy. Palmeiro would be granted free agency after the 2005 season. Even since, Palmeiro quit playing (Keating, 40).

In 2003, BALCO which was a little library that was situated in the outskirts of San Francisco was best known for doping scandal. It became a shock to the sporting fraternity. Victor Conte who was a former guitarist and now the head of BALCO employed the use of self-taught nutritional information and his gregarious personality. As such he opened the laboratory and was able to access to key sporting personalities. Some of the baseball personalities reached were, Jason Giambi, Sheffield and Bonds. BALCO supplied these players with substances that enhanced their performance. Consequently, some of the key players had to go through some investigation into Biogenesis. This was supposed to be done in an anti-ageing clinic that was not descript and based in Miami (Carise, 36).

Baseball Steroids Investigation

In 29th march 2006, George Mitchel who was the chairman of Disney, a member of the Boston Red Sox and a former senator launched investigations into the past usage of steroids among players. Major Leagues Baseball players which included Barry Bonds were the target. This is with the reason that some of the layers through their books had brought information with regard op the use of human growth hormones and steroids. Bonds was alleged to have incorporated the use of the two. Mitchell played the same of investigating bond just as John Dowd who investigated Pete Rose in the 1980s (Steinberg, 28). However, by carrying out independent investigation, Mitchell was carrying out a role that relied on the decisions on the leagues. Through the results gathered through the investigations, by 13th December 2007, it had been established that more than 80 former players and those that were currently playing  were victims of using substance that enhance performance (Carise, 37).

MLB Steroid Policy

The use of steroids in the major League Baseball was not an issue. It was until 1991 that fay Vincent administered a memo to all teams. The memo carried the information that the use of steroids was against the rules. After the BALO scandal and major allegations that key players in the game were using steroids, harsh penalties were set with regard to the use steroids. A policy which is still applicable until date was set in 2005 and was widely accepted by both the owners and the Major League Baseball players (Carise, 37). After the establishment of the policies, the first positive test led to suspension for 10 games. When a person was tested for the second time, it would lead to suspension for 30 games. When a player tested for the third time, he was supposed to be suspended for 60 games. When a player tested for the fourth time, he was supposed to be suspended for 1 year. The fifth time tested he was subjected to the discretion of the commissioner. Consequently, the players were tested once per year (Beck, 39).

These directions replaced those that were being used before. For instance, no player had been suspended in 2004 yet the old policy had been established in 2002. In the 2002 policy, a player who was supposed found to use the enhancing substances; he was supposed to be subjected to treatment. Moreover, this policy held to it that the name of the player was supposed to be withheld.  There were changes in the 2005 policy. Thus, in November 2005, was that were stricter than those that had been established during the 2005 season (kakutani, 42). With respect to the new guidelines, if a player would test positive for the first time, the player would have to miss 50 games. If tested for the second time, the player would be suspended for 100 games. If the player tested positive for the third time, the player would have to be subjected to lifetime suspensions from the game. Thus, the penalties became tougher. Thus, the MLB steroid policy brought the game nearer to the international rules that guide sports.

Investigation and Allegations against Players

There have been many investigations done on players suspected to have been employing substances that enhance performance. The results gathered have been used as a basis for decision making where players are suspended from playing games. One such investigation was done on Rodriguez.  He took their position in relation to the New York Yankees baseman. He had not played the season that was at hand since he had been recovering from a hip surgery. However, even though he was among the best players, through the results gathered through carrying out tests; Rodriguez was established to have been using enhancing substances (kakutani, 47). As a consequence, he was suspended for 211 regular season games. This suspension was delivered by Bud Selig who is a commissioner. This was done to send a strong message to the other MLB players that the issue of drug use was being taken with great seriousness and as a result the use of drugs to cheat in games was no longer tolerated.

As pointed out earlier, Bonds also went through the same investigations and as a result, his legacy that he had built for years was destroyed. Even though MLB had stern laws and policies in relation to the use of enhancing substances, at first, the seriousness was not realized on MLB’s part. Thus, when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established in 1999, the president of the agency, Dick Pound, evaluated how the issue of substance enhancers had been handled in the sporting leagues in North America (kakutani, 46). The president articulated out that the policies and measures used by MLB were a total joke. The MLB penalties were compared with the sanctions and testing that was administered to Olympics athletes. They were way above those established by MLB.

As established earlier, the penalties had had complications on the players.  For instance, in 2011, many Ramirez who was a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers made his find and retired from the game. He thought this was best rather than having to face 100-game ban after he had been found to be positive for the second time. Subsequent to this season, Melky Cabera who was playing for San Francisco Giants was suspended for 50 games. He was the All-Star game most valuable player and was suspended after it was established that he had been using testosterone (Beck, 40). In the same context, Ryan Braun was also suspended for 50 games. He appealed against this suspension which was then overturned. However, after it had been established that Braun had been involved in the Biogenesis investigation, he accepted a 65 game suspension (Keating, 40).


It is disheartening to establish that most of the common figures and talented players of baseball have been utilizing substances to enhance their performances. However, it is positive to note that MLB has been able to come up with better strategies to deal with the issue. Consequently, as much as players engage in the game, their health will also be preserved. They will be able to live better lives and be better role models to those who aspire to engage in the game.

Works Cited

Beck, Jacob. “The Only Good Reason to Ban Steroids in Baseball: To Prevent an Arms Race.” The Atlantic 17 Jun 2013: 39-40.

Carise, Deni. “Baseball and Steroids: What’s the Big Deal?” The Huffington Post 9 Dec 2013: 36-37.

Hancock, David. “Jose Canseco: Juiced.” CBS News 5 Aug 2005: 22-23.

kakutani, Michiko. “Barry Bonds and Baseball’s Steroid Scandal.” The New York Times 23 Mar 2006: 41-42.

Keating, Steve. “Steroid Error Continues to Hang Over MLB.” Reuters 5 Aug 2013: 40.

McCallum, Jack. “Steroids in America: The Real Dope Cultureof Enhancement Extends Far Beyond Sports.” CNN Magazine 11 Mar 2008: 42-44.

Steinberg, Avi. “Scribes in the Time of Steroids.” The New Yorker 7 Aug 2013: 28-29.

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