Victor Conte, the mastermind behind the Balco Labs steroid distribution scandal that reached the highest levels of sport, has pled guilty to distributing illegal drugs and laundering money. Due to very weak sentencing guidelines, even if found guilty of all charges, Conte would only have done about a year’s worth of time. As the deal stands, Conte will spend four months in prison and another four months under house arrest.
As an FYI, Greg Anderson, who still is Barry Bonds personal trainer, has pled out as well and will do about 3 months.
An interesting aside…if Bonds’ was given – and took – steroids without his knowledge and Anderson was the person responsible for this deception, why does Bonds still work with Anderson, and why hasn’t Anderson been the target of a lawsuit by Bonds? What would you do if you were given powerful anabolic drugs –, the kind of drugs that change your body – without your knowledge?
Anyway, get ready for a new flood of blather in the coming days – as there will be a deluge of opinion pieces and analyses dealing with the Balco scandal, telling us how steroids have tainted sports and how kids are in mortal danger from the perils of these substances.
We’ll also be told that we need to educate, educate, educate so that we can save kids and athletes from the dangers of steroids. This is, of course, utter crap and a huge waste of time.
To fight the scourge of steroids, all sports need to institute a zero tolerance policy. Using baseball as an example, if a guy tests positive for injectable steroids they get suspended for 162 games. A second positive test results in a 324 game suspension. Three times should be the charm that results in a lifetime suspension. Done.
Having athletes face permanent banishment for using steroids is the best anti-steroid education program.
If the union doesn’t go along with the program, the league should just drop all testing. Challenge the players to show that they are either 100% against steroids or 100% for steroids. No half measures. They’ll have a couple of chances if they screw up, but those screw-ups are going to cost big time.
On the other side of this argument, what is the justification for NOT establishing a zero-tolerance policy? If the argument revolves around the fact that the fans are flocking to games in record numbers and don’t care if the players are juiced or not, then why bother?
Let’s stop with all of the hypocrisy that deals with the sanctity of the game and the magical aura that surrounds numbers like “714,” “755,” “3000,’ and “.400.” If the old-timers are pissed off that their records are being broken, let them open their mouths. Besides a select few former stars – most prominently Reggie Jackson and Jim Bunning – former players have been too quiet on the issue. Why should sports writers have to carry their water for them?
If Hank Aaron isn’t pissed off that his record is going to be broken by a guy that admitted to taking steroids, why should we care? If guys are getting into the elite “500 home runs” and “3000 hits” clubs, let the guys that got there on the level protest because I have better things to do with my time.
Speaking of drug testing, apparently the NHL players, when they get back from their work stoppage, will have a “three strikes and you’re out” policy, where the suspensions go from 20 games, to 60 games to a lifetime ban. Good for them. If the players agree to a plan like that, it sounds like they want to run a clean league.
Education is an honorable endeavor, but is a waste of time. Millions, if not billions, of dollars and hours have been dedicated to educating the public regarding the evils of drugs, smoking, drinking and over/unhealthy eating. These efforts have been in vain as people still take drugs, smoke cigarettes, drink too much and are fat and unhealthy. Education just doesn’t matter.
For people in the know, steroids have always been potentially dangerous, at least for the past 30 years anyway. People have been taking them for the past 30 years, well armed with the knowledge that a big risk accompanies the use of steroids.
The anti-steroid education program should consist of the following: A) if you take steroids you are cheating, B) if you take steroids you will be banned from your sport and C) steroids may be bad for you. Now you’re on your own, make your decision.
As fans and spectators, we may or may not care if the guys and girls in our favorite sports are clean. But it is up to the leagues and the athletes themselves to determine what they want for their sports.