Steroid Abuse Hurts Baseball
The abuse of steroids among players in Major League Baseball is corrupting the image of America's Pastime as well as endangering the health of those who use the illegal substances. The lack of testing and punishment for the use of illegal substances like steroids in the Major Leagues portrays a negative image to aspiring young athletes. They see their role models using steroids and becoming better athletes rather than seeing suspensions for the illegal behavior or the negative health effects.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are synthetic substances which increase skeletal muscle growth and increase male hormone production. Steroids are legal only through prescription. They are often prescribed for ailments in which the body does not grow correctly because of a lack of testosterone (NIDA InfoFacts, np). Steroids are taken either orally or through an injection. The most common oral steroids are anadrol, oaxadrin, dianabol, and winstrol. The most common injected steroids are deca-durabolin, durabolin, depo-testosterone, and equipoise. There are also legal steroidal supplements such as dehydroepian-drosterone and androstenedione (NIDA Research, np). The effects of steroids depend on the reason for the use of the drugs. Legally prescribed steroids are portioned so that the user receives only the desired effects such as increased testosterone and muscle growth. Negative effects mainly come from the illegal use of steroids. When steroids are abused major negative effects such as cancer, tumors, and increased blood pressure can occur. Lesser negative side effects are gender specific. The higher levels of testosterone in males may cause shrinking of the testicles, baldness, and the growth of breasts. In woman the testosterone can cause facial hair, baldness, and deepening of the voice (NIDA InfoFacts, np). The most serious affects of steroid use can be fatal as they were in the case of former Major League Baseball (MLB) MVP Ken Caminiti. Caminiti died at the age of 41 just days after he had admitted testing positive for cocaine in a Houston court. Although his death was an apparent drug overdose, the medical examiner reported that an enlarged heart and coronary artery disease were contributing factors. The medical examiner also added his admitted steroid use would, "absolutely have been a significant contributing factor to an enlarged and weakened heart" (Cocaine and opiates found in Caminit's Body, np). The death of Caminiti was the first wake up call to the public and Major League Baseball that steroids are a problem in baseball. It is a shame that it took a death to reveal it. The next major blow to baseball was leaked Grand Jury testimony by reigning MVP Barry Bonds for the case against the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO). BALCO was under investigation for distributing illegal performance enhancing substances such as steroids to major athletes including Bonds. In the testimony Bonds described taking substances given to him by his trainer Greg Anderson, who was indicted for distributing steroids. The substances described were similar to two types of steroids commonly distributed by BALCO. Bonds claimed ignorance stating that he thought the substances were natural supplements for arthritis (Associated Press, np). The final blow to the league was the tell-all book Juiced written by former MLB star Jose Canseco. In his best-selling book Canseco admitted to personally injecting then teammate and former single season homerun record holder Mark McGwire with steroids. In an interview on 60 Minutes Mike Wallace read out of Canseco's book: What we did more times than I can count was go into a bathroom stall together, shoot up steroids. After batting practice or right before the game, Mark and I would duck into a stall in the men's room, load up our syringes and inject ourselves. I would often inject Mark (60 Minutes).
During the interview Wallace asked Canseco to talk about...
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