Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Steroid Network Smashed [J. Mark English]

Could this be the beginning of something big? It may get a lot worse before it gets better...

From the Herald Sun:

A suspected steroid ring supplying the stars was broken up yesterday across the US.

It is accused of distributing anti-ageing treatments to celebrities and muscle-building drugs to professional athletes.

At least eight people were arrested in Florida, New York and Texas and up to 24 people face felony arrests after a year-long investigation.

"There are celebrities involved in the case as consumers," said District Attorney David Soares from Albany, the New York state capital.

Officials also confirmed a report that the investigation could expose steroid use by current and former Major League Baseball players, National Football League players, bodybuilders and college and high-school athletes.

Mr Soares alleges the network prescribed anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and other substances over the internet and without face-to-face examinations, supplying much of the national market for illegal online steroids.

It gets worse...the Anaheim Angel's Gary Matthews among a multitude of other athletes:

Athletes were involved as customers of an illicit steroid distribution network that led authorities to raid two pharmacies in Orlando and arrest four company officials, a New York prosecutor said.

Albany County (N.Y.) District Attorney P. David Soares refused to identify any steroid recipients, saying prosecutors were focused on producers and distributors. The Times Union of Albany, which first disclosed the investigation, cited unidentified sources who said Los Angeles Angels outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. and former major league pitcher Jason Grimsley were customers.

"I understand that the involvement of athletes and celebrities makes this a sexy story, but I assure you we are not, at this point, we are not concerned with the celebrity factor," Soares said. "Our focus here is to shut down distribution channels."

Buster Olney of ESPN tries to explain the magnitude of what this all means:

A longtime member of Major League Baseball's family heard the news of the Orlando drug bust Tuesday afternoon from a reporter, and from him, there was no exclamation of shock, no follow-up questions about whether there are any names mentioned beyond that of Angels center fielder Gary Matthews, Jr. or pitcher Jason Grimsley.

The talent evaluator seems resigned to a past and present and future in which performance-enhancing drugs are engrained in Major League Baseball. He doesn't know who is taking what, but what he sees, again, is that the bodies are getting bigger.

The bodies got bigger in the '90s, particularly those of many hitters. And late in the '90s and into the 21st century, the pitchers' bodies got bigger, especially those of middle relievers, he felt. In 2005 -- the first year in which players were subject to suspension for a failed first steroid test, rather than getting a couple of mulligans -- he felt the bodies got smaller, suddenly and dramatically.

Comment -

Maybe its time to accept the reality of drugs being used in professional sports. This is an extremely pessimistic view of the situation, but not matter what is done to curb drug use among professional players, there is always a new way around the system. Why not instead facilitate an environment of legal drug use with education. Maybe this is the only way to go from here. Lets face it, drugs and sports have been together now for decades. Maybe its just meant to be.

I'm not really advocating drug use here. But when you hear stories like this, its frustrating as a fan to know that the reality of what I'm seeing on a court, baseball field, or football field is probably enhanced through illegal substances. Why simply remove the cloud of deceit and bring it out into the open?

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