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Dedicated Steroid Coverage Remains Absent

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According to the Albany (NY) Times Union, a year-long investigation of drug sales conducted over the Internet will lead to the arrest of doctors, pharmacists, and business owners. They investigation reveals that testosterone and other illegal and/or banned performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) have been sold to pro athletes, college athletes and high school coaches.

This latest development, in a scandal that has been going on ever since 1988, won’t surprise anybody who has been following this story over the past 20 years. So that’s about 27 people.

Here’s a brief history. Arguably the current performance enhancing drug era of sport started when Ben Johnson got busted at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. When Ben got caught red-handed – and yellow eyed – back in 1988, athletes learned their lesson. Not “don’t take drugs,” but rather, “don’t get caught taking drugs.”

Ever since this average world-class sprinter became the fastest ever world-class sprinter, athletes in all sports became aware of the power of the steroid. The drug tests of the day were unsophisticated but still forced athletes to change their approach a bit from the unscientific “massive dose of Stanozolol a day” regimen.

What was a niche market, an underground cult, became part of mainstream, legitimate sports. Body building types started hanging around with real athletes and the cross-pollenization began.

The problem is that the sports media hasn’t had the knowledge or the stomach to take on this story despite having 20 years to do so.

We have thousands of journalists following Anna Nicole Smith’s corpse, but I haven’t heard one person ask Shawne Merriman what over-the-counter supplement caused him to test positive for a banned, illegal steroid. If the sports media really cared about this issue, the only news about Barry Bonds would involve his ridiculous statements surrounding how he unknowingly took steroids and put on about 30 pounds thinking the whole time he was using flaxseed oil.

There would be a constant drumbeat of journalists asking and demanding answers to some very basic questions. Athletes would have their feet held to the fire.

The problem of drugs in sports would be a lot less of an issue if people covering sport had done their jobs for the better part of the past decade. Sure, a lot of journalists have made mea culpas – ever since the light has been shined on the drug cheat cockroaches – and have apologized for not doing a better job on the subject.

But what’s been their excuse over the past four years? Where were the exposes when the Carolina Panthers were involved in a human growth hormone scandal? Where was the bulldog journalist when Jason Grimsley was busted by the feds? These stories all came and went and were treated as isolated instances.

Why have there been a few lone voices in the woods like Elliot Almond, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, Howard Bryant, and Phil Mushnick? There might be a few more people out there who have been on the story, but that’s the problem, there are only a few others.

The way the sports media has treated this issue for the past 20 years is reminiscent of how J. Edgar Hoover refused to recognize the possibility that the Mafia existed. Have you ever heard an expert in the field of performance training questioned or given the opportunity by a member of the media to speak about the suspicious training and “supplement” regimens used by certain athletes?

So what we’ll get in the way of coverage as this case unfolds is the usual hyperventilating from sports talking heads, rehashing of the same old issues and the “Steroids 101: Guidebook to Steroids” info when it comes to discussing performance-enhancing drugs.

What we need is regular coverage of this issue. For goodness sake, there are hours of sports programming dedicated to fantasy football and yet we don’t get any real info that deals with non-fantasy subjects like drugs in sports, how athletes prepare for their sport, and how athletes are suffering from more off-field injuries than ever before.

But until we get this, keep in mind that performance-enhancing drugs are here to stay and there’s a very good chance that some of your favorite athletes are reaping the benefits from the latest versions of designer steroids and other PEDs. With every new revelation in this ongoing story there’s every reason to believe that another edition of this scandal is right around the corner.

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About Sal Marinello

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Nice article, Sal. So when some former dweeb hits 100 homers in some season in the near future, I guess MLB will just shrug its shoulders and say, “Man, it’s good for the game.” “Tis a disgrace indeed!

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    This is a recommended article on the BC Sports General forum…