Drug Busters; Performance Enhancing Drugs in Baseball

The use of drugs to boost the human growth hormone in baseball has slowly decreased since 2013, when random, in-season tests were agreed upon. However, big name players are still caught using these drugs and the penalties are getting larger.

In baseball, the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) comes with immediate consequences. If a player is caught using PEDs for their first time, they get suspended for 50 to 80 games. A second offense is 100 to 162 games and a third offense is a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball (MLB). Over the past 25 years, stars around the league have been found guilty of the use of PEDs, leading to the questioning of their performance and trustworthiness.

Mark McGwire, a former player for the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals from 1986 to 2001, admitted to the use of androstenedione. Androstenedione, an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product, was not banned by the MLB at the time. Even though McGwire did not face any suspensions or fines, it led to the questioning of his performance.

He admitted using the drug during the 1998 season when he set the record for most home runs in a single season with 70 home runs (HR). He admitted using the drug throughout the 1990s, especially 1993 and 1994 when he was casted with injury.

Another player who blatantly lied to the media and fans about his usage of PEDs was Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. Braun admitted to using an elevated testosterone substance in 2011 from Biogenesis of America, a health clinic in Florida. This was a big issue because he won the 2011 National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP), when he hit 33 HR and 111 runs batted in (RBI). In the following season, Braun hit 41 HR and 112 RBI.

He served his 65 game suspension in 2013 and played another full season in 2014 for the Brewers. Braun received criticism from players around the league for lying about using PEDs, especially from then-Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer, calling his actions “despicable.”

The most talked about PED usage in the past five years would be the convictions of Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees third baseman. During the 2013 season, Rodriguez was accused of using PEDs and suspended for 211 games since it was his second offense. Rodriguez also tested positive in 2003. He appealed the suspension and got it reduced  to 162 games, which was the entire 2014 season. Along with Braun, he got the PEDs from Biogenesis of America.

In the early part of the 2015 season, PEDs have already been a problem. Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana and New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia were both suspended 80 games for the use of stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. Santana signed with the Twins in the offseason and Mejia was in line for the closer’s role on the Mets.

The use of PEDs has never had a positive outcome, yet players still use it. There has been some debate on lessening the tolerance of the usage, either being a suspension then a ban, or just a one and done deal. Either way, any player using these drugs will get caught at this day and age.