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Off the Bench: Steroid tests necessary in baseball

Thursday, 17 November 2005 Two dates stand out in my mind, Sept. 8, 1998 and March 17, 2005. Both of these dates represent two opposite ends of my emotions in the game of baseball. On Sept. 8, 1998 I was working and had just closed up the gym. Instead of going home I stayed to watch the Cubs and the Cardinals on our little T.V. I wanted to see one of my favorite players break one of the most prestigious records in all of sports. I am glad I stayed because when I saw that ball hit by Mark McGwire clear the left field wall I was ecstatic; I was jumping up and down and yelling. Little did I know that less than 10 years later, that moment would be a fraud. On March 17, 2005, I watched that same player barely able to speak because he was nervous and choking back tears while all but admitting to the use of steroids. However, a new hero emerged that day in my eyes. Rafael Palmeiro in a bold way, even pointing to the congressional panel said, “Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Rafael Palmeiro and I am a professional baseball player. I’ll be brief in my remarks today. Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids. Period. I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never. The reference to me in Mr. Canseco’s book is absolutely false. I am against the use of steroids. I don’t think athletes should use steroids and I don’t think our kids should use them. That point of view is one, unfortunately, that is not shared by our former colleague, Jose Canseco. Mr. Canseco is an unashamed advocate for increased steroid use by all athletes.” With this statement all I could think was, “Way to go Mr. Palmeiro, at least someone has what it takes to stand up to these guys.” Again, little did I know that moment was a fraud, too. Less than a year later Palmeiro was suspended for using steroids. To me this was the last straw. Since this happened I have felt like someone needs to step up and get steroids out of the game. Talking about it in a congressional meeting is not enough. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has tried to implement a tougher stand on the issue, but the players union will not accept his proposal. As a result, Congress has acted like it is going to step in and clean up all of sports, but it has dropped the ball. Congress was lied to when Palmeiro, with that smug attitude, swore he had never used steroids. That is perjury, and whether it could have been proven or not should not matter. Even if Congress had lost the case, it would have sent out the message that it was not going to play around. Only an idiot would think Palmeiro had only decided to take steroids after the hearing March 17. I think the fact that Congress has chosen not to pursue Palmeiro on some sort of perjury charge shows that elected officials really have no interest in cleaning baseball’s horrific steroid problem. They had a chance to put their money where their mouth is and, instead, excused themselves from the matter. Baseball is over now, and with it I can breathe a sigh of relief. I have a few more months before some of these frauds break some very prestigious records. My only hope is someone, Congress, the commissioner or the players association, will step up and put a stop to steroids and stop backing down. Baseball has taken a step to make it right. A rule was passed saying that a player will be suspended 50 games for a first offense, 100 games for a second offense and they are banned for life after a third offense. I still want to see a stricter stand on the problem. Ban a player for one year on a first offense and ban them for life on a second offense. We owe it to the legends of the game of baseball to weed out the cheaters. Donny Wisor The Appalachian

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