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baseball_peds1 It is August and summer’s hot and hazy days are slowly dragging by. Summer is the time for watermelon, playing in the sprinklers, mom’s apple pie, and baseball.  In the world of bats and baseball caps, fans sluggishly sweat it out in the stands to watch every at-bat and play from Little League up to Major League Baseball.

However this summer, athletics enthusiasts from every sporting arena have been watching closely as baseball legend Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) and other major league stars await the Major League Baseball (MLB) Commission’s decision regarding suspensions in the latest ring of performance enhancing drug (PED) use. Banned substances continue to play a controversial role at every level of sports from high school through professional levels. Despite earlier attempts to deride the use of PEDs, they continue to crop up in the locker rooms regardless of clear regulations that prohibit their use.baseball_peds3

Does this Latest Crackdown Indicate a Turn in the Doping Tide?

Biogenesis of America, a now-closed Miami clinic for anti-aging treatments, allegedly distributed banned performance-enhancing drugs to athletes ranging from high school level to the Major Leagues. As many as 20 baseball players were linked to the Biogenesis scandal, including All-Stars Nelson Cruz (Texas Rangers), Johnny Peralta (Detroit Tigers), Melky Cabrera (Toronto Blue Jays), and Everth Cabrera (San Diego Padres). Suspensions typically follow confirmed performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) use.

baseball_peds4 Watch this ESPN news report about Biogenesis that reveals the sketchy world of drug sales/distribution. It gets even worse; read the Daily News’s coverage of how Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch allegedly supplied HGH and testosterone to high school age athletes . For details related to baseball, look at USA Today’s interactive presentation of Biogenesis’ Impact on the MLB.

A-Rod is considered by many to be one of the top baseball players of all time. While that assertion is debatable by many circles, no one can argue that he is currently the top-paid player of all time($28 million for 2013 season; his net worth is estimated around $300 million). He is also the player who has the most to lose if the MLB Commission does indeed suspend him for life as many speculate will be a possible outcome. And this is precisely why there is so much publicity around this.   

This week, Current Commissioner Bud Selig will make the highly publicized and long-awaited for decision regarding Rodriguez and the other baseball players. Suspensions are expected but for how long and how large of a cut of the salaries remains to be seen. In response to the expected suspensions ordered by Selig, former Commissioner Fay Vincent recently stated, "I hope he does it…It's right for baseball. The harder he comes down, the better it is for baseball.'' Selig and the commission could invoke Article XII (B) of the CBA, which states: "Players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball, including, but not limited to, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law.''baseball_peds2

Most of the players have indicated that they will accept their consequences and will not appeal. Rodriguez’s attorney, David Cornwell, initially indicated that they would appeal any suspension. By the end of last week, the commission offered Rodriguez a choice: accept a suspension through the 2014 season or face a lifetime ban. Details have been unclear as all officials were unauthorized to speak publicly about the situation as the negotiations are to remain private.

Four years ago, A-Rod admitted that he used performance-enhancing substances from 2001-03 while with Texas, but has denied using any PEDs since that time. Biogenesis released documents that revealed Rodriguez used the PEDs from 2010-2012.

Milwaukee Brewers outfield Ryan Braun received a 65-game suspension a couple of weeks ago for what MLB called violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and Joint Drug Agreement.

Performance Enhancing Drugs

PEDs – they’ve been around for a very long time. The sporting field has observed athletic superstars from almost every sport take a career-ending fall due to the use of banned drugs. NBA player Hedo Turkoglu , track star Marion Jones, Tour de france champion Lance Armstrong, and a very public suspension of baseball greats, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire have all made performance enhancing drugs a topic of debate.

Find out more about how PEDs work at the CNN Feature, Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports Fast Facts. Read Mayo Clinic’s guide, Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks. Continue with the informative article, How Performance Drugs Work from How Stuff Works to better understand how the PEDs work and why they are so coveted by athletes. Visit the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. For those athletes who do choose to take the prohibited drugs, the effects are not all glorious; check out Effects of Steroids, Doping and Performance-Enhancing Drugs resource.

baseball_peds5 Read the Daily News’s A look back at Alex Rodriguez and his history with performance-enhancing drugs to get a sense of the progression of events. Then take a look at The Yankees and Alex Rodriguez: A Timeline. Fast forward to current events and watch ABC News’s report A-Rod Stands to Lose $100 Million if Major League Baseball Institutes Lifetime Ban. As of Friday August 2, Rodrigeuz’s attorneys have been attempting to arrange a plea bargain; find out the details at ESPN’s news report, A-Rod doesn't disclose rehab plan.

In 1989, another all-time top player, Pete Rose, was banned for life from playing baseball. His crime? Gambling. Read his message from USA Today: Pete Rose to cheaters: Baseball will catch you.

With these players out of the stadiums, 30 MLB teams continue to play outstanding and exhilarating games (check the current standings). Over 1200 major league players put their efforts into training, practicing, and playing their best to help their team to victory. Home runs, double plays, stolen bases, and nearly impossible catches occur in every game. For those players, and their fans, drugs are not an issue and therefore we can all say,
“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out to the crowd,
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack,
I don't care if I never get back!”