February 16, 2005
Steroid scandal sends wrong message
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
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
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
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