When sporting celebrities start getting honest with the public, all hell breaks loose. The truth of what really goes on in sport carries a sharp sting with it, and sometimes the pretensions and fabrications are exposed to an embarrassed public.
Such is the case with the revelations by Jose Canseco, alleging widespread use of steroids in baseball. Canseco claims that baseball players took steroids routinely routinely in the 80’s and 90’s, just ‘like a cup of coffee.’
Canseco has stared the problem of drug use in the eye, but the baseball world is still in a state of denial. One has only to look at the physiques of the big home run hitters like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro to see that these hulks have had help along the way. Canseco claims that they, along with a majority of baseball players, use steroids because it greatly improved their performance.
However, the use of steroids carries many risks, including uncontrollable behavioural changes and mood swings, increased aggression, dependence and liver damage. People become addicted to these drugs like any other. Basically, it is a gamble to improve performance that may backfire at some point.
Steroid use is not breaking news. Many other sports, including those in the Olympics, have had steroid-using athletes. The main argument for the athletes, as Canseco explains it, is that the competition is so fierce, that the benefits of taking drugs are hard to resist. In some cases, it may make the difference between a celebrity career and a mediocre career.
When Mark McGwire was questioned before a congressional hearing, he refused to state if he took drugs in the past, and was not pressed for an answer. Canseco, however, implicated McGwire in his book for taking steroids. Take one look at the physique of McGwire and you’d wonder how he got that big without taking steroids.
The Americans are in a state of denial over steroid use. They would prefer to discuss a different subject. In a country where the use of pharmaceuticals is at record levels, and drugs like Ritalin and Prosaic and taken like candy, the United States uses more drugs than any other country in the world. They don’t like to admit it though.
The United States is also in denial about its attitude towards sex. In a country where Hollywood has been selling sex for years, where pornography is a billion dollar industry, where cable networks feature hard-core sex movies; there was a huge outrage when Janet Jackson exposed her breast on national television. It’s just more denial at work.
You can make the same argument towards many other aspects of American life such as its oppressive attitude towards another drug-marijuana. It’s all right for people to get relief from anxiety by taking heavy drugs like Zoloft and Valium, but if you get caught smoking a joint, you could spend the next few years of your life behind bars. More denial at work.
Steroid usage is a product of the modern pharmaceutical industry, and we have to accept this reality. Players have to be warned of the risks, but in the end, the drug policing and the doping squads will have little effect. The latest drug users are always one step ahead of the enforcers.
It’s time to review the current drug policies and establish something that is workable and fair. The first step is to admit that drug use is rampant, and that it is unlikely to change.
Time for a Reality Check!