Integrity Matters
February 16, 2005

Steroid scandal sends wrong message to youth

Question: (E-171)

Dear Jim:

Why the Canseco flap about steroid use by baseball players? If no league rules were broken, then what's the big deal?


Professional baseball has been very slow to adopt a tougher steroid-testing program and did so only after increased scrutiny about drug abuse. Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi testified before a federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative known as BALCO. When young people see that one pathway to superstardom comes from chemical enhancements and when these same adoring fans begin risking their own health to enhance their athletic performance, as early as junior high, then something must be done - immediately.

Jose Canseco's "tell all" book about certain superstars and cheating is titled: "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big." Some observers say its rollout appears strategically timed with Canseco's "60 Minutes" interview this past Sunday. Regardless of motivation, he raises important issues.

The "big deal" about steroid abuse is Major League Baseball's irresponsible leadership. How awful for millions of youngsters, and adults, to learn that recordholders may not have been achieving greatness through natural strength and hard work. Little Leaguers must see that cheating and lying are the route to failure, not to the Hall of Fame.

Canseco's book is about fraudulent behavior, and he is making powerful enemies, risking substantial personal financial exposure. Integrity needs to be restored throughout the baseball world - among players, owners, agents and publishers.

Mike Downey, a sports writer for the Chicago Tribune, wrote Monday that Canseco "could be the man who cleaned up...our national pastime."

"It took a Jose Canseco, someone with firsthand knowledge and the courage to name names, to make baseball squirm," Downey said. "...He is not a man in the right. He is a man in the know.

"Any player with an ounce of integrity will go to his union and demand that each player be willing to take a drug test at the drop of a hat. Any man who votes 'no' is a man with something to hide."

Canseco's blunt and sometimes ugly illustrations are stirring controversy, generating strong reactions and possibly lawsuits.

Innocence and guilt have yet to be determined. Regardless, the best result will be when baseball cleans up its act, publishes responsible standards of integrity and then equitably enforces regulations.

Home Page | About Us | Ask Bracher | Services | Resources | Contact Us

©Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership. All Rights Reserved.
1400 Munras Avenue ~ Monterey, California 93940