In the last year, controversy has struck Major League Baseball. From numerous scandals to suspensions of well-known players, MLB had to face many investigations and interruptions due to performance enhancing drug (PED) abuse – commonly known as“doping.”
The large scale scandal of this year broke out in late January after the Miami New Times released a story about a South Florida- based anti-aging Biogenesis clinic supplying multiple types of PEDs to professional athletes. The clinic closed about a month before the news broke, which left many clinical documents and records up for grabs. Former employee Porter Fischer handed over the documents that were in his possession to the Miami New Times. While the documents omitted any names of players, nicknames were used that began to start rumors, causing suspicion among MLB – who later purchased the records from the newspaper. In the published story, the clinic was accused of being involved with high-profile baseball players like New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod), Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera and more.
Fischer claims that easily over one hundred athletes have come through Biogenesis in the last four years since he’s worked for the
founder of the clinic, Tony Bosch. During a 2013 interview with ESPN, Fischer reported that professional athletes from the basketball, tennis, boxing and mixed martial arts worlds have also received drugs through Biogenesis.
While Tony Bosch and many of his associates are being sued by the MLB under many peddling and fraudulent charges, it is assumed that most of the records Fischer refers to were destroyed when the rumors began to bubble.
Why do athletes “dope”? Sure, it makes you stronger and gives you greater endurance, but the risks and sacrifices of abusing drugs are high. The practice of steroid use has always been particularly heavy in professional baseball; however, studies show that about thirty percent of college and professionalathletesabusethem.Even in high school athletics, about ten to twenty percent of players use steroids.
PEDs are of four main types: anabolics, stimulants, human growth hormone (HGH) and supplements (such as testosterone). Not only are these types of steroids banned in all major league sports, but the physiological and psychological effects can be devastatingly harmful. For these reasons and many others, the laws concerning doping have become progressively stricter each year since the first ban on steroids in 1976.
Anabolics, the PED consumed
by the New York Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez, are a synthetic type of steroid to increase endurance. Anabolics create non-fat muscle mass by stimulating proteins. This build-up of muscle mass helps an athlete play for longer time spans. However, there are many from consuming anabolics: increased aggressiveness and sexual appetite, depression upon withdrawal, skin blemishes, baldness, reduced sperm production, liver damage and bone growth problems are common side effects. Being one of the most commonly abused PEDs, anabolics have coined the term “Roid Rage,” for its aggressive side effects.
Stimulants – medically used to treat problems like ADD/ ADHD, asthma and obesity – stimulate the central nervous system in order to increase heart rate and blood pressure. They most importantly increase athletic performance by amping up cognitive functioning, reaction time and overall alertness. Recognized as a hyperactive drug, the side effects are predominantly physiological: weight loss, dehydration, anxiety, tremors, insomnia, etc. Stimulants, when abused by athletes, are commonly taken as supplements alongside other PEDs.
Human growth hormone
(HGH) builds an abnormal concentration of hormones and metabolites in order to increase the strength and agility of athletes. Medically, the compounds are used to treat premature children and cancer patients. The side effects of HGH are also predominantly physiological, including severe headaches, high blood pressure, diabetes, severe arthritis and more.
Supplements, most commonly abused alongside other steroids, come in many types and forms. Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular over-the-counter supplement abused by athletes and is even considered a food by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), not a drug – perhaps why they are abused so frequently. While the supplement, at low doses, is a natural way of helping muscles to release energy, high doses can cause stomach and muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea, weight gain.
Despite the physiological and emotional risks of PEDs, athletes around the world continue to abuse them. Particularly in MLB, laws around doping have become stricter, in order to establish a stronger sense of opposition to the corruption that occurs too often.