posted on Mar, 21 2004 @ 09:27 AM
The debate over steriod testing illuminates a deep division within the players union. Some players are angry with the union's stance agaisnt the most
stringent testing, arguing that steriod users pose a threat to their peers. The users have not only taken a competitive advantage, those players say,
but they have also damaged the public perception of all players. The dissension first surfaced last spring, when 16 White Sox, led by Tom Gordon and
Paul Konerko, breifly treatened to boycott the testing, believing the penalites were to weak. Now, in the wake of the BALCO investigation, the voices
of discord are growing louder, with such veterans as John Smoltz and Kenny Rogers speaking out for tougher standards. The union leaders, Don Fehr and
Gene Orza, have stanuchly defended their stance agaisnt more comprehensive testing and harsher penalties, stating and restating their objection to
what they characterize as an invasino of privacy. One Veteran player agreed to speak frankly, though anoymously, about the current debate; the pros
and cons of taking steriods, how he made his decision about wheter to use them and what he and his fellow players are currently saying to each other
about testing and the union.
Words from Player X:
I don't condone taking steriods. The vast majority of us are not using. But it's all anyone can talk about this spring. Players are talking about it
all the time. YOu know who the users are. Everbody is like "Well, he did and he did; do you think he did?" Or, "Hey, did you see that guy? He's got
dime-sized testicles." Im tired of hearing about it. But if you asked me, do i give a dman if Barry Bonds is a user, I'd say no. Honestly, I don't
care. The guys who are doing it are ruining their own lives. They're taking their own risks. And I've never really cared if I got beat by someone I
thought was using steriods. when that's happened, it's made me more pissed off that i didn't do something to beat him.
NOw, we have testing. But it's a joke. We had a union meeting this spring to talk about the penalities, and the way they made it sound, by the time
you finally get nailed a fifth time, most of the guys who are using the stuff will be at the point where their careers are over. I'd say 80% of them
are just trying to hang on, anyway.
In our union meeting, somebody asked why we can't step up and do our own in hosue testing. The union guys were like, "oh no, we can't do that. The
owners don't want that." I don't buy it. if we took care of this in house, and set up our own tough penalties, all this crap would be over. The way
it stands, the penalty phase of this absolutely sucks. It's a slap on the wrist. The first time you test positive, they basically shake a finger in
your face and say, "Don't do that again." Its BS. The Union guswere talking about the various parts of the testing program in our metting, quoting
this doctor and that doctor, and I was so pissed off I didn't even want to listen anymore. i sat back, put a dip in and read a magazine. If players
get caught, I think baseball should have the right to do anything it wants to them. YOu've got a couple of guys in the union leadership protectiong
the steriod users, and it's not going to last.
The meetings are the same now as tehy always have been. Just a bunch of bull. Somebody asks for an explanation, and they give an answer that makes no
sense, using a bunch of words nobody understands. When a young guy speaks up, they're always like, "Next question." When an older guy speaks up, its
"Thank you for bringing this to our attention, but we're going to blow you off too." That's why im down on the union. its like, give me a break. We
pay them to work for us! They dont want us to talk to you, but my attituade is, I dont use steriods why cant i talk about it? If you look at players
who are avioding the questinos, some of those guys are the ones who are using, or have used.
Ive played with guys whod come back in the spring and start braggins about how they put on 30 pounds of muscle in the offseason. That is physically
impossible to do. Ive never seen it done fairly. the only way to do it is through the needle.
A couple of time, Ive almost done it. The first time I thought about it, I was stuck in Double-A. Wasnt getting any better, wanst getting any
stronger, I had reason to think of doing it more recently, too, though I pretty much had my minde made up already.
You hear other players who have them steriods say,"Oh, man, the revoery time is so much better." And its true: steriods help you bounce back from
injuries. One time I had a medical situation that required me to take them. My weight jumped up, and i couldnt belive how different I felt.
Incredible, aboslutely incredible. When youre in my situation now, at my age. i need to speed up recovery time. thats the one reason ive considered
it. ive though about how the effects might hide injuires in your body and then you might really do damage. Guys talk about, "Well your ligament will
snap off." im at the age where my ligaments are messed up anyway. why wouldn't you use it?
THere are other reasons to do it. if i get caught it really wont hurt me professionally. I dont have a lot of time left in my career, period. And
everybody knows were to get it. everybody can go across the border and get it. Its simple. no questions asked.
Now, there are the cons. Is it going to eat out my liver? Is it oging to rip my heart apart? Is it going to take years off my life? Those are the
questions to be answered regardless of whether you have kids or you don't. Is it worth it if i make more money and die 2 years earlier? Not for me.
its my kids. theyre why i Decided not to take steriods. i have graduations I want to see, weddings to attend. its my babies
I hate the idea that people will look at me and remmeber some weight gain--and Ive had some in the pasy--and say, "Look, he used steriods, and now
that hes stopped, hes lost weight." No. I did it by busting my ass for months. I dont sue a needle, and theyll find that out wehn I take my tests this
After we had our union meeting, some young guys came up to me, kind of pissed off, asking, "Hey, youve been around for a while. why soundlt, we use
the stuff?" I looked at it from their point of view, and you know what? Id probably be pissed off too. you come up from the minors, where there
testing for steriods, and you walk through the clubhouse door and make a left and you see some of those huge bodies in their. Damn, Id be mad too.
Is it fair that some older guys are using and younger guys can't get out of the minor leages because they dont have that little something extra? No,
its not. If theres a guy whos got an advantage because he takes steriods, and he beats out another guy who's busting his ass all the time, well, I can
see why the guy who gets beat out would be upset. Those guys who had the talent but couldn't make it because they didn't use steriods...that sucks
There is a lot of frustration among the younger guys not taking steriods. do i think theres going to be more said by them? Absolutely. The reason I
say that is because in time, the little voices--voices, with an "s" are going to overrule the Big voice in the union leadership.
Pretty soon, one of these kids is going to step up. One of them, then two of them, then three, then a bunch of them, and they're not going to go
straight to the media, and you wont be able to cover it up anymore. Theyre going to offer to pee into a bottle, take drug tests for reporters, put
pressure on the other guys. Then all hell is going to break lose.
When smoltz spoke out, that was one voice. But when you get 15 little voices toghter, well see what those young guys can do, because fingers will be
pointed. Thats what's going to happen. And I wont have to worry about it. because ill be out of the game by then.
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