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Anabolic Steroids In Professional Sports

The use of performance-enhancing drugs, commonly abbreviated as PEDs, in professional sports has been around since the 1960s and since then, there has been numerous situations in which Olympic athletes have lost medals, or platers were given lifelong bans from professional sports because of testing positive for these illegal drugs (“Performance Enhancing…” 1). The several types of PEDs include anabolic steroids, stimulants, human growth hormone, abbreviated as HGH, and diuretics (“Performance Enhancing…” 1).

Anabolic steroids help athletes train harder, leading to a quicker development of muscle mass, while being able to recover from the strenuous workout faster (“Performance Enhancing…” 1). Another type of powerful steroid is tetrahydrogestrinone, abbreviated as THG, the drug eight-time Gold Glover Barry Bonds and track star Marion Jones were caught using (“Performance Enhancing…” 1). Stimulants, such as amphetamines, increase alertness and decrease appetite as well as having other effects on the nervous system (“Performance Enhancing…” 1).

To improve endurance and strength, athletes take HGH. Diuretics were banned after athletes were taking them to mask other drugs in urine tests (“Performance Enhancing…” 1). Diuretics can also lead to rapid weight loss (“Performance Enhancing…” 1). Androstenedione is an anabolic steroid that the body convers into testosterone (“Performance Enhancing…” 1). Until the Food and Drug Administration took action in 2004, androstenedione was sold over-the-counter, at an easy access for professional athletes to use (“Performance Enhancing…” 1).

It is currently banned in the National Football League (NFL), Olympics, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and Major League Baseball (MLB) (“Performance Enhancing…” 1). Athletic drug tests are conducted to detect banned substances or PEDs in competitive-level athletes (“Drugs Banned…” 1). Drug testing may occur in the NCAA, professional sports, or the Olympic-level (“Drugs Banned…” 1). Testing can occur in or out of competition and at any time and any location (“Drugs Banned…” 1). Failing a test can result in disqualifications, sanctions, and stripping of metals and world titles (“Drugs Banned…” 1).

Examples of athletes who faced these penalties include Lance Armstrong, O. J. Mayo, Jarred Tinordi, and Alex Rodriguez. The list goes on and on and involves numerous stellar athletes in all professional sports. The NFL was the first major professional sport to begin testing players for illegal usages of PEDs; however, suspensions were not issued until the 1989 season (“Performance Enhancing…” 1). MLB added steroids to their list of banned substances in 1991, but did not begin testing players until the 2003 season (“Performance Enhancing…” 1).

Because of this, on November 13, 2003, MLB announced that five-to-seven percent of the 1,438 tests were positive during the 2003 season, equaling seventy-one to one-hundred tests (Calcaterra 1). Since this percentage was well above the threshold, the MLB set mandatory tests for PEDs with punishments for the first time in Major League history and in June 2004, MLB began drug testing ball players under the punitive phase of the Joint Drug Agreement (Calcaterra 1). Every professional sport has an individual and unique drug policy and some are more effective than others.

In the wake of the Biogenesis scandal in 2014, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) reached an agreement to change the drug testing program and increase the penalties for taking PEDs (Calcaterra 1). A first-time offense of the Joint Drug Program now results in an eighty game suspension without pay (49. 383% of the season), opposed to the previous fifty game suspension (Calcaterra 1). A second PED offense results in an unpaid one hundred sixty-two game suspension or the entirety of the season including the postseason (Calcaterra 1). A third violation results in a permanent suspension from baseball (Calcaterra 1).

During the Biogenesis scandal, New York Yankees third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, was suspended for one hundred sixty-two games without pay, which caused uproar as MLB players are paid on a one hundred eighty three day pay schedule (Calcaterra 1). To ensure Rodriguez would not receive any pay for the 2014 season, the MLB and MLBPA decided that any player suspended for a full season shall not receive any salary pay for that season (Calcaterra 1). As for the NBA, the drug policy is much more lenient. The NBA season consists of eighty-two games (Lund 1).

For a first offense of PEDs, a player will be suspended for ten games without pay, or 12. 95% of the season (Lund 1). A second offense is a twenty-five game suspension without pay, or 30. 488% of the season (Lund 1). A third suspension results in a yearlong suspension unpaid, and a fourth suspension is a lifetime ban from the NBA (Lund 1). In the NFL, the first offense is between a four and six-game suspension without pay (25%-37. 5% of the season), depending on if masking agents such as diuretics was used (“NFL…” 1). A second offense results in a ten-game suspension without pay (62. 5% of the season) while a third positive test results a two-year ban (“NFL…” 1). The last major sport is the NHL.

In hockey, when a player tests positive for PEDs the first time, they receive a twenty game unpaid suspension (24. 39% of the season), followed by an unpaid sixty-game for a second offense, which equals to (73. 171% of the season) (Altaffer 1). A third offence results in a permanent suspension from the NHL (Altaffer 1). PEDs in professional sports are currently a huge controversial topic. Some people think they should be legal, others feel they are cheating. Economically, there is evidence for both sides of the argument. First, when a player is suspended, they do not receive any pay for the time of their suspension.

This ultimately saves the team money. On average, an NBA player receives an annual salary of $5. 15 million, the highest of all professional athletes (Manfred 1). When a player is suspended, they lose 1/110th of their salary, saving the team $46,818. 18 per game (Lund 1). As for the NFL, the average player makes $1. 9 million, resulting in $118,750 saved due to a suspension (Manfred 1). This average is the lowest among the professional athletes (Manfred 1). The average salary for MLB players is $3. 2 million, meaning for each day a suspension lasts result in $17,486. 34 saved by the team (Manfred 1).

Finally, the average NHL player makes $2. 4 million a year (Manfred 1). When calculated, this comes out to $29,268. 29 lost per game (Manfred 1). Overall, for every day a player is suspended, the team saves tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars saved. However, that revenue that the team makes does not even cover all of the cost of losing a player to PEDs. Rough economic estimates suggest that a PED violation costs the violating team 11% of annual revenue, or $451,000, after accounting for the savings from not having to pay the suspended player (Cisyk 1).

Evidence also shows that violations by any player in the league have an impact on the league’s demand (Cisyk 1). Another study showed that from 1995 to 2001, the year Barry Bonds eclipsed Mark McGwire’s home-run mark, the attendance for baseball games was up forty-four percent and during that time, the MLB’s revenue increased by one-hundred fifteen percent (Cisyk 1). Season ticket holders and fans who purchased tickets in advance were not included in these two statistics as they purchased their tickets prior to any drug suspension announcements and were simply unable to illicit any response using paid attendance (Cisyk 1).

Other evidence shows that drug use is a threat to sports as it damages the sport’s reputation (Cisyk 1). This view is shared among many sports professionals, lawmakers, and the media (Cisyk 1). There is also evidence from the Tour de France that live broadcasters are less willing to cover an event, and sponsors are less likely to endorse the event after doping has been revealed (Cisyk 1). This causes sponsors to save money and the team to put more money into the event. To show how big of an issue PEDs are in American professional sports, I found an article about baseball players in Japan.

A new drug testing policy was instituted in 2007, and it was consistent with Japan’s tougher anti-doping laws adopted in 2006 and more in line with international standards (Haugh 1). The players in Japan are smaller than the players in America (Haugh 1). They also have natural physical realities, and typically concentrate more on lower-body strength, rather than upper-body strength (Haugh 1). Upper-body strength is more commonly associated with steroid use rather than lower-body strength (Haugh 1).

Former baseball player and manager and current athletic director at Sacred Heart University, Bobby Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan (Haugh 1). Valentine believes because of the Japanese’s preference to build more lower-body strength than upper-body, steroids and other “drugs just aren’t as big a part of the culture here (Haugh 1). The Japanese players also have participated in the last several Olympics (Haugh 1). The Olympics require more thorough drug-testing than Major League Baseball, and also give a risk of national embarrassment for your country (Haugh 1).

Many believe this feared humiliation makes Japanese baseball players unlikely to take the change of getting caught taking PEDs (Haugh 1). Rick Guttormson, a pitcher for the Fukuoka Hawks, a team in Japan, said “it’s just not something really on the radar much” in reference to the Japanese players and PEDs (Haugh 1). In the end, PEDs are a big issue in professional sports. The Japanese do not have steroids on their radar compared to the American players. PED related suspensions also save teams money when it comes to paying for the players’ salaries, but they overall lose money because of lost sponsors for events, like the Tour de France.

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