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Steroids? Knock me down!


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Memo to diary. Find time to be shocked at the possibility that Bonds and Giambi have used steroids. Afternoon of February 7 looks good.

Jaywalking is most definitely a competitive sport, and a real fun one at that. I would do it competitively for a four-year $125 million deal, with appropriate incentives for more, of course.   The r

Wow! Do you think Sheryl Crow is using as well?

  • 8 months later...

to complicate the question of chemical enhancement and sports, here's greg easterbrook on the nfl and local anaesthesia.

 

An injured NFL player hobbles off the field to the locker room. Ten minutes later, he jogs back out, seemingly fine, and re-enters the game. Medical miracle? It's possible he was just injected with local anesthesia. Lidocaine, Procaine, Carbocaine: The numbing chemicals used by dentists and for ambulatory surgery might have been shot directly into his knee or elbow. Use of injected game-day anesthesia in football is something the NFL, and to a lesser extent the NCAA, likely would prefer the public not know about. Shooting players up with drugs so they can perform sounds a little creepy -- because it is.

 

Some players even receive injections of anesthesia before games. "I was taking two shots on game day for the pain," 2006 first overall draft choice Mario Williams of the Houston Texans told Pete Prisco of CBS Sportsline this May, in a rare public admission about game-day injections. Williams was suffering from plantar fasciitis, which causes pain around the heel of the foot. Most of last season, Williams did not practice, yet he appeared in every Texans game -- because on game day, he received injected anesthesia. (The Texans declined a request to interview their team physician about Williams' injections.) When NFL players can't practice during the week because of injury, yet perform Sunday, this might not just be sheer determination -- injected local anesthesia might be involved.

 

Is Williams an isolated instance? In April, former NFL star and 2007 Hall of Fame preliminary nominee Steve Tasker spoke at a sports symposium at St. Bonaventure University. The symposium topic was "Sports Reporting Versus Sports Publicity." According to the Times Herald of Olean, N.Y., Tasker said in part, "There were occasions in my career where I had to get assistance, chemically, to play the game. I'm not talking about pills [but] an actual injection into some body part, so I could cope with the pain in order to play. And, even today, I don't talk about that part of my career very much. There were occasions where I actually went to the training staff and said, 'Can you get me ready,' and they offered me the option [of anesthesia]." Tasker went on to say that teams did not twist a player's arm to take injections; rather, it usually was the players who asked to be injected. He concluded, "Those are the kind of things that happen behind the scenes in the National Football League in the locker room, that players would really rather not have made public."

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They don't call Selig "The Hammer" for nothing:

 

"Jason Giambi of the Yankees will not be disciplined for tacitly admitting earlier this season that he had used steroids. Commissioner Bud Selig announced Thursday that Giambi’s willingness to cooperate with the investigation being conducted by former Senator George J. Mitchell into steroid use in baseball swayed him to not punish Giambi.

 

“Jason was frank and candid with Senator Mitchell,” Selig said in a statement. “That and his impressive charitable endeavors convinced me it was unnecessary to take further action.”

 

Times

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  • 3 months later...

According to all the New York sports talk show hosts called Mike, the Mitchell Report - delivered to MLB today - names some fifty or sixty random drug users other than Bonds. The initial impression seems to be that the list is hardly exhaustive.

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Indeed. This is going to be a stupendously bad day for baseball, and the sport has only itself to thank for it.

 

Latest speculative count is eighty names to be revealed. Maybe mLB hopes that they will all be relatively minor figures. Dream on. In an excess of clumsiness, the report will be released before the named players are notified: this will lead to an even greater media frenzy, and surely legal action by some of the players. The whole thing will drag on for at least the rest of the off-season.

 

Above all, I think this can be regarded as Bonds' revenge. How many more asterisks are people going to want to see in the record books? Are players going to be removed from the Hall of Fame - and if not, why shouldn't Bonds be admitted? The cheerful scapegoating of one or two individuals for wrongdoing which this report will show as systemic will leave a lot of questions hanging.

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There was an informal "don't ask - don't tell" policy that was in effect from the late 1980s through the mid 2000s. MLB management wasn't particularly aggressive in pursuing rumors of widespread steroid use and the player's union fought against any type of testing. Even the media played a part in this. During the McGwire/Sosa pursuit of Maris' single season home run record a sports writer noticed a bottle of a steroid drug in McGwire's locker but the story received minimal play. People wanted to celebrate the chase and didn't want to hear messy details, regardless of the fact that both Sosa and McGwire were bulked up like wrestlers.

 

So what happens now? Baseball is late in policing itself but there are precedents in other sports. Track and field has a rigorous testing program and has stripped offenders of medals and records and issued suspensions. Baseball could do the same. Team records would be allowed to stand. It's impossible to say that a team wouldn't have won a given championship if a few players hadn't cheated. The effect of the cheating was diluted by the natural performances of the many players who didn't.

 

It's not perfect but it will have to do. At this point the drug tests aren't perfect either; they're especially weak in identifying athletes who use human growth hormone. But things change and tests get better. There's no reason why blood and urine samples couldn't be preserved and re-tested 3 or 4 years later when tests are more sensitive. Then retroactive penalties could be imposed. Again, that's not perfect but it's a start. Otherwise baseball will become a version of pro wrestling played on grass.

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What do you think of the suggestion from some quarters that the thing to do is institute an impeccable, independent and robust policy going forward rather than digging over the past and raising all kinds of imponderables?

 

There was an informal "don't ask - don't tell" policy that was in effect from the late 1980s through the mid 2000s. MLB management wasn't particularly aggressive in pursuing rumors of widespread steroid use and the player's union fought against any type of testing. Even the media played a part in this. During the McGwire/Sosa pursuit of Maris' single season home run record a sports writer noticed a bottle of a steroid drug in McGwire's locker but the story received minimal play. People wanted to celebrate the chase and didn't want to hear messy details, regardless of the fact that both Sosa and McGwire were bulked up like wrestlers.

 

Exactly. See my 2004 post:

 

 

Memo to diary. Find time to be shocked at the possibility that Bonds and Giambi have used steroids. Afternoon of February 7 looks good.
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My guess is that Roger Clemens is going to appear on that list. One of Mitchell's sources is Brian McNamee, a former Yankee trainer who worked with both Clemens and Andy Pettite.

 

 

 

CNBC just announced that the NY Post ( :rolleyes: ) says Clemens is on the list.

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What do you think of the suggestion from some quarters that the thing to do is institute an impeccable, independent and robust policy going forward rather than digging over the past and raising all kinds of imponderables?

 

I'm not prepared to to just wink at the fact that both the single season and career home run records are now held by cheaters. Those records are too important to the sport. I suspect there will be enough popular sentiment in that vein that those records will be stripped from the offenders. I think the same will hold true for things like the Cy Young award.

 

As I've been saying for awhile this isn't a perfect solution. Some people, probably *most* people who cheated won't be sanctioned but they'll go after the most successful cheats, the record holders.

 

What remains an open question is what standard of proof will need to be met to consider someone guilty. Unsupported testimony doesn't seem like enough although if you get corroborating witnesses I could see how the commissioner would find that sufficient. Blood tests, of course, would be considered conclusive.

 

This will be a messy process but there needs to be some type of accounting, a coming to grips with the past. Having the commisioner sprinkle holy water on the record books and issue a blanket absolution for past sins isn't going to be enough.

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