Performance on the field being tainted by drugs

Curtis Manlapig, Sports Editor

Athletes these days are always looking to gain an edge on their opponents and instead of working hard, learning the game and preparing better than anyone else, some athletes are taking the short cut by using performance-enhancing drugs.

Common types of performance-enhancing drugs or PED’s are human growth hormone, amphetamines and anabolic steroids. Athletes from all sports are taking these and can afford to because of the lucrative contracts that they sign.

Frankly, it is getting ridiculous. Why can’t sports athletes do things the right way and set examples for the younger generation of athletes who aspire to become professionals in their given sport.

Cheating becomes a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. The player instantly has a tarnished image that does not go away no matter how many times they apologize and the team also loses an asset that was helping them win games albeit somewhat illegally.

The fans can lose interest in that player and the team if cheating is occurring.

Baseball has been hit the hardest with the drug controversy. The 90’s and the first decade of the 21st century are often referred to as the “Steroid Era.”  Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco are three of the names that are often brought up when talking about the “Steroid Era.”

The Hall of Fame is also intolerant of cheating. If a player was accused of or was actually caught cheating, the Hall of Fame voters have not been so kind. It does not matter what the stats were for the player, the voters will not allow the Hall of Fame to have anyone labeled with an asterisk.

This makes this year’s vote all more controversial. Great players like Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are eligible to be voted in. They all had the steroid tag on them and will need 75 percent of the votes to be inducted. The signs are looking like they won’t get in because of how the voting has gone for one of the greatest home run hitters of all time in McGwire as he has yet to crack 30 percent since he was eligible due to his steroid allegation.

One of the more unfortunate stories in the past decade was that of Alex Rodriguez. He was a young up and coming short stop with the potential to break the all-time home run record and the expectations were too much for him so he took PED’s.  He had just signed a contract worth over 200 million dollars with the Texas Rangers in 2001 and in recent years he has admitted to taking steroids the three years he was there.

It’s sad to see someone with so much potential throw it away by cheating. Young superstar players like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper hopefully have learned from the mistakes that the generation before them committed and play the game the right way and more importantly to resist the temptation of taking drugs.

Other sports like football and basketball have been hit by the steroid allegations but to a lesser degree than baseball. Suspensions are varied throughout the sports landscape.

Baseball hits the offender with a 50 game suspension for the first offense, nearly a third of the season.  Football tags a four game suspension to the user for their first positive drug test.

The NBA and the NHL do not enforce random drug testing as strictly as the other two and their suspension lengths reflect that steroid use is not very common in their sport. NBA will suspend the user for 10 games while the NHL will suspend the first time offender for 20 games.

Players need to clean up their act. It only hurts the integrity of the game when athletes decide to cheat for their own personal gain. Sometimes the best test is to test negative.