Improve drug testing in baseball and other sports
A report ties 89 Major League Baseball players to use of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs.
Major League Baseball took a deserved hit by former Sen. George Mitchell for its feeble efforts in past years to keep players from cheating by use of performance-enhancing drugs. Mitchell's criticism should be extended to other sports, where effective drug testing is needed to restore credibility.
Mitchell's 311-page report seriously damaged the reputations of 89 players by tying them to the drugs. It should jeopardize two Cy Young pitchers, seven Most Valuable Players and 31 All-Stars from eventually being selected to the institution's Hall of Fame, the most prestigious in all sports.
"It's definitely a tough time for Hall of famers, Cy Young guys and MVPs to see stuff like that come out about them," Maui-born Shane Victorino, a Philadelphia Phillies outfielder, told the Star-Bulletin's Gene Park at a Waipio baseball clinic for players ages 7 through 18.
Mitchell recommended that the players named in the report not be disciplined for past cheating. However, Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner, said each player's case will be reviewed individually.
Sixty of the players no longer are in uniform. For them, the taking back of awards, akin to U.S. sprinter Marion Jones' return of her five Sydney 2000 Olympic Games medals because of her admission to taking steroids, might be the only measure within Selig's jurisdiction.
Improving the scrutiny of active players is needed not only in baseball but in other sports. Random testing in baseball, initiated 15 years after the sport's "steroids era" began in 1988, has reduced steroid usage, prompting players to change to human growth hormone, which goes undetected by the program's urine tests. Players have been alerted to the test days when testers called a day ahead to request parking and stadium passes.
The huge rise in the number of Incredible Hulks in the National Football League is an indication that drugs are at work. In 1989, fewer than 10 players weighed at least 300 pounds. They now number more than 450, and a 2003 study by the University of North Carolina said that 56 percent of NFL players were considered obese.
Not only do college linemen understand they must be near that size to be considered for the NFL, high school players are coming to the same conclusion about winning NCAA scholarships. "It's still fun, but if you want to get to college, you have to get that size," said Rusty Barrilleaux, a Louisiana high school coach. "The pressure is definitely on."