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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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The Evolving Dodger Thoughts Stance on Steroids - Day 3
2004-03-04 16:28
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Still A Work in Progress

I appreciate the compliments I've received for this humble project, especially this one - compliments that must be shared, for this has been a collaborative effort. But we're not done yet.

Here is some of the feedback I've gotten in the past 24 hours.

  • In Wednesday's comments, reader Will Albers writes that "it's absolutely unquestionable that misuse of steroids can cause serious health damage. Even usage under doctor's observation has serious risks." While I am quite sympathetic to his conclusion (and it happens that I had read the Outside article he refers to), it's clear that many people in fact are questioning this conclusion and coming up with different answers. It is too simple to call all such people "ridiculous and irresponsible."

    In any event, I'm optimistic that the position I am slowly coming to accounts for people making either conclusion. And locating the common ground in this volatile issue is key. I want a stance that as many people as possible can agree on.

  • Later in the comments, a reader named Rowdy correctly identifies an issue requiring consideration: the effect of MLB's steroid policy on not only MLB players, but college and high school students. (And I suppose, frighteningly enough, junior high kids as well.) Rowdy points out that there are detrimental human rights consequences that come with drug testing, whether the testee is clean or not. Essentially, he argues that if you're going to drug-test, you had better have a good reason - it shouldn't be, "Why not?" It should not be, "I test because I can."

    So in that respect, having a no-steroids policy is not the same as having a no-balk policy. The analogy I drew Wednesday doesn't work, because a no-balk policy doesn't put people's rights and psyches at risk.

    That being said, I'm still in favor of a steroids ban, because in my mind and the minds of many other people, the potential harm of steroids has not been disproven. (Is this an unfair, guilty-until-proven-innocent approach? We can debate that further if you want.)

    So you do need testing, but there should be cause for testing. Now, the criteria for determining cause ... that's going to be tricky and is certainly a hot-button issue today, especially with today's news in the Times that "an industry source confirmed Wednesday that Major League Baseball was gathering information with the intent of invoking a never-before-used 'reasonable cause' provision that allows for immediate drug testing of any player suspected of using steroids." Defining "reasonable cause" - hmm.

  • Over at Will Carroll's site, commenter Mike raises the issue that "most steroids are illegal/require prescriptions." For me, contriving a position on what baseball's approach to drugs is difficult enough. I'm inclined to let the legal issues take care of themselves. Is there an issue where baseball needs to be a narc? I don't think that that's the case. But certainly, if baseball were to make the public act of punishing a player, one supposes that law enforcement could make appropriate investigations on its own. And in the reverse case, if the courts conclude that someone illegally used steroids, baseball can incorporate that result into its own decision for punishment.

    Okay, so here's where I am now:

    Current Beliefs

    1) No one should use steroids, drugs or supplements that could be potentially harmful to the body, short-term or long-term.

    2) No one should be pressured to use these supplements by the idea that they need them to stay competitive.

    3) There is debate in the scientific community about how harmful steroids are. (Indeed, steroids are prescribed to promote health in certain cases to people of all ages and ilks.) They might be harmful to athletes, but some respected people say that you cannot conclude that they are harmful to athletes.

    4) In the face of this confusion, it is not automatic that baseball should ban sterioids.

    5) However, there is sufficient risk that steroids are harmful for baseball to take measures to eliminate them from the game.

    6) A ban on steroids should have the support of both management and the players.

    7) That support should manifest itself in a punishment structure that is carefully vetted, and that includes both reprimand and, if appropriate, rehabilitation.

    8) In particular, the institution of drug-testing has serious human rights consequences. Therefore, methods for eliminating steroids from the game, such as drug-testing, should be instituted with the greatest care possible to protect those rights.

    9) Punishment should not be applied retroactively - someone who broke a current or future rule, before that rule was enacted, should not be subject to reprimand.

    10) Baseball is a game in which unfair advantages are frequent. Dodger Stadium works against hitters, baseball in Colorado works against pitchers, the first half of the 20th century worked against African American ballplayers, beer prices work against the consumer. There is no call to break out asterisks for statistics compiled by players who might be found to have used steroids. The record book is the record book.

    I kept the list at 10 - not going after a Commandment angle, but it's a good number.

    This certainly is not my favorite issue to discuss on Dodger Thoughts - you know I just want to talk about the game - but I sort of like the idea of dealing with this all at once and then getting it out of the way, so that each time the issue comes up, there's something of a ready response at hand. Maybe we'll be done with this before you know it. (We can dream, can't we.)

    If you're getting tired of these posts, I understand. But I still urge your participation. If you have any suggestions, comments or criticisms, please continue to send them along in the comments.

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