The prevalence of the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball is no longer a novelty. However, many people still underestimate how widespread the use of illegal drugs was and how widespread it is now. Below we will tell you about steroids in baseball and players who used banned substances.
“Steroid Era” in Baseball
It is believed that the “Steroid Era” in the world of baseball began in the early 1980’s, which led to a significant increase in aggressiveness of play, especially the number of long-range hits (in particular, in 1961-1994, no one managed to hit 50 home runs per season, while in 1997 this mark was achieved by two players).
Formally, steroids were banned in 1991, but the practice of testing athletes was introduced only in 2003. The first anti-doping code of Major League Baseball (MLB) was fairly permissive – after the first positive test an athlete could be let off with an admonition. However, in response to the growing information about baseball players being supplied with doping, MLB tightened the penalties for the use of steroids.
A new set of rules were introduced at the beginning of the 2005 season. The first positive doping test implied a 10-day disqualification of a player, and a repeated violation presupposed extending this term to 30 days. The baseball player, who was caught in using illegal drugs for the third time, received a 60-day disqualification. For the fourth violation, a one-year suspension was applied. Finally, for the 5th positive test, the athlete was fined “at the discretion of the MLB commissioner”.
In the 2005 season, 12 cases of doping were recorded, and in the spring of 2006 MLB decided to tighten the rules. The principle of the code, which is valid to this day, was justified by Bud Selig in this way: “Three strikes – and you’re out of work.” The first positive test makes an athlete disqualified for 50 games, the second – for 100 games. The third positive steroid test deprives the culprit of the opportunity to perform in MLB.
Since 2004, 67 baseball players have been punished for using illegal drugs. Only two of them have been caught again – the aging superstar Manny Ramirez and his compatriot, Dominican pitcher Guillermo Mota. No player has so far received a lifelong disqualification, which in part indicates the success of the measures taken.
Why do baseball players use anabolic steroids?
When Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire arranged a race for “who will beat the number of home runs per season record faster” in 1998, the rejoicing of the press and the public was beyond measures. The opponents were not provoked. They were not played one off against another either like once in the case with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, and they were not sent letters with threats of speedy reprisals if they dared to break the record. Finally, the record, which had been kept for over thirty years, was beaten by both players. Terrific? Undoubtedly. But the euphoria did not last long. What happened then? Sammy Sosa tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003. Mark was also under suspicion. In 2010, McGwire finally came clean, admitting he had used drugs when he had broken the home run record in 1998.
Baseball players who used steroids
Here is a list of players that took anabolic steroids:
1. Alex Rodriguez. He has been recognized as the best player of the MLB three times, has participated in the matches of all MLB stars more than 10 times, in 2009 he became the champion of the world series. In 2007, he stated that he had taken steroids in 2001-2003.
2. Mike Piazza. He is a famous baseball player who has many awards. There are suspicions that he used steroids, but this did not prevent him from being included in the Hall of Fame.
3. Gary Sheffield. The player has received the status of the All-Star 9 times, has won 5 Slugger awards, and has been recognized Most Valuable Player several times. The fact of using steroids prevented him from being elected to the Hall of Fame.
4. Barry Bonds. This player was recognized as an athlete of 2011 in the United States. He was involved in the notorious steroid scandals (we’ll talk about this below).
5. Albert Pujols. This sportsman has won the title of the most valuable player of the year three times.
It should be noted that this is not a complete list of players who used steroids in baseball.
Notorious baseball steroids scandals
- In 2004, it was reported that Barry Bonds, the most valuable player in the regular baseball championship of the American baseball league of that time, could have taken steroids. This was stated by his lawyers, adding, however, that the athlete could do it by ignorance, using a variety of cosmetic products that contained prohibited ingredients. Bonds used them on the advice of his personal trainer and friend Greg Anderson, who was prosecuted for distributing steroids.
- In 2009, another baseball steroid scandal broke out in MLB. Sports Illustrated published an article, which told about positive doping tests undergone by 104 baseball players of the league. Among them was one of the most highly paid MLB players – the New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez had admitted his guilt, not waiting for the publication of this list.
- In 2015, Anthony Bosh, a former owner of a clinic in Florida, was sentenced to four years in prison as the main person involved in the case of the spread of steroids, the BBC reported. In October, 2017 he pleaded guilty of selling banned drugs in the now-closed American clinic. One of Bosh’s clients, the star of the New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez was disqualified for 211 games in August 2013.
The bottom line on steroids in baseball
Now we can hardly talk about the final victory over doping in MLB, but the first steps on the way to the purification of baseball can be considered successful. Steroid users are suspended from matches, and the distributors of steroids sit in jail. But athletes manage to use illegal steroids (for example, oral steroid pills, which are quickly removed from the body). It remains only to hope that the athletes will be conscious and will play honestly, without deceiving their fans.