Sunday, February 8, 2009

talk it through

Well, I can't stop thinking about steroids now....

I actually wrote a paper about AAS (Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids) a year or so ago, but I didn't get into HGH. (Of course, I mean that I didn't write about HGH or research it, although I didn't use it either.) Some of the adverse effects are pretty scary.

It's such a complicated subject--performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports--that I can't imagine it being neatly or agreeably resolved anytime in the foreseeable future.

ME: Poor A-Rod. (heh heh)

Someone Who Is Not Me: Okay, so we've established that you don't like Alex Rodriguez.

ME: It's just that he's so plastic. So shallow, at least on the surface. (cough) Way too metro-sexual for the likes of decent American get-your-uniform-dirty-or-it's-not-really-a-sport sports. And then there's the fact that he and his distracting personal life have tarnished what I am proud to consider one of the defining characteristics of baseball--that for whatever reason beisboleros aren't subject to the same intense scrutiny by the celebrity-stalking gossip-mongering media as other factions of the rich and famous--and just generally nauseated me....

SWINM: Right, right. We get it. No A-Rod fans here. But beyond how you feel about the man personally, you have to admit that the whole business stinks. I mean, in 2003, when the tests were done, players were promised anonymity. They were assured that the results would be confidential. Coming back 6 years later and revealing those results is a complete violation of his rights.

ME: True, but if he hadn't been using the steroids in the first place, it wouldn't even be an issue.

SWINM: But there are apparently 103 other names on the list for whom it isn't an issue. Their names weren't released. This is obviously an attempt to tarnish one player's reputation in particular.

ME: Yet. Their names haven't been released yet. But are you suggesting they should release all the names?

SWINM: No, of course not. I'm suggesting that no names should have been released. It was deceitful and wrong.

ME: You can't unspill milk.

SWINM: Well, no.

ME: So what's the solution?

SWINM: There is no solution. You said it yourself, you can't unspill the milk. The damage is done. However, if you look back at the situation in 2003 (and before), the players who were using were using, and maybe it gave some of them an advantage, but it's over. The records are set. History has been written. You can't unspill milk. What I suggest is that we let it all go.

ME: Those players were breaking the rules and the law. You can't seriously want to let them off the hook, can you?

SWINM: That's exactly what I want. Drop the charges against Barry, forget about Jose's book, let McGwire get on with his life, and lock Clemens in a small room with something angry and hungry. Putting any of these guys in jail isn't going to change a thing. Baseball doesn't need asterisks and whispers and question marks about the past. Baseball needs clearly defined restrictions. Players and their representatives need to know exactly what is acceptable and appropriate and what is not. The league needs to implement strict testing and unequivocal punishments. That's the only way we'll get beyond this. We have to move on and there has to be a plan.

ME: If there's a product out there that can enhance performance--be it steroids or some new designer drug--there are and will always be players who would risk their reputation and the consequences in order to have that advantage.

SWINM: It's human nature, I know. And I'm no scientist, but I'm aware that the testing is always one step behind the science. If you want to protect the integrity of the game, though, you either have to establish a blanket definition of performance-enhancers and prohibit anything and everything likely to fall under it, or you have to be able to trust players.

ME: There's also been talk lately of the increasing instance of players taking drugs for Attention Deficit Disorder (and doubt as to whether the majority of those players actually suffer from the disorder). If a player has a medical diagnosis and is being treated with prescription drugs, where is the line that separates "unacceptable and inappropriate" from medically necessary? And what if those categories overlap? Would you deny a player reasonable medical treatment if that treatment happened to enhance performance? Would you require him to leave the profession in order to get medical treatment?

SWINM: That's a tough question. In setting the rules, MLB would definitely have to take such concerns into consideration. I don't have the answer.

ME: Me either.

SWINM: So what have we decided, as far as A-Rod, that is?

ME: Well, despite my great dislike for him, I have to say I feel bad for the man.

SWINM: Me too. He's obviously going to have to deal with this for a while.

ME: Poor A-Rod. (snicker)

SWINM: Oh, just stop it.