In 1998, fans of professional baseball held their breath as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled it out to see who could break Roger Maris’s home run record of 61 by the end of the season. On September 8, McGwire finished triumphantly with 70 home runs, while Sosa came in second with 66.
However, McGwire admitted in 2010 that he used androstenedione, an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product, when he broke the home run record. At the time, the use of that drug had been banned by the National Football League, the International Olympic Committee, and the World Anti-Doping Agency, but not by Major League Baseball. It was also not federally classified as an anabolic steroid in the United States until 2004. Even today, fans seemed divided on whether he should remain noted in history as the home run champion of 1998.
With other incidents receiving such polarizing responses as Lance Armstrong being stripped of his Tour de France wins to Wes Welker being suspended for only four games for testing positive for Adderall abuse, it is obvious that steroid and other performance-enhancing drug abuse is not an issue with just professional baseball.
With each of these scandals being met with a disjuncture among experts and fans alike, the question comes down to not who is using, but whether or not drug testing should even be present in sports.
There are many pros and cons to testing in professional sports as well as in the amateur and collegiate levels, with both sides expressing valid opinions and ideas.
One major concern is whether or not performance-enhancing drugs pose a health risk. Horror stories of players going into “’roid rage” and suffering horrible, long-term side effects are well known, but those who wish to legalize the drugs are quick to point out that the players take these risks on themselves and could even be injured during the sport if they are not using, due to stronger competition that does.
There is also the debate as to where the line is drawn between sports technology and drug use. With the continued innovation of equipment and training methods, those who are in favor of removing drug testing from sports feel that steroids are just another aspect of this technology that can be used within a training regimen.
Those who are opposed, however, reference the sportsmanship of the athletic events. They feel as though the drugs are an unfair edge that remove any integrity from the game and give a clear advantage to those who use over those who do not.
As long as this is a relevant issue in the professional sports world, drug testing will maintain its evolution and the stalled debate on whether there should be drug testing in sports will continue to remain in a stalemate.
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