Dear Jhonny

by Theresa Spranger, Bioethics Program Alumna (MSBioethics 2012)

So, it’s been an interesting week in Major League Baseball; an historic take down of steroid abusers and one of my Tigers is among them.  It’s a 50 game suspension for Tiger’s shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, and over 200 games for New York Yankee, Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod).

In total, 13 players were suspended for purchasing performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) through a Miami clinic.  This was the largest PED suspension in the history of baseball and many are praising Major League Baseball (MLB) management for their vigilance in cleaning up the sport.  I am not among those heaping praises.  Personally, I think the whole thing is for show and these players drew the short straw.

As fans we insist that our favorite sports get faster, better, and more exciting every year.  We want athletes of super human ability, but certainly don’t want them to take PEDs to get these abilities.  Dear sports fans…we can’t have it both ways.

Therefore, we must choose: do we want a pure, clean, wholesome sport with potentially fewer home runs, and less excitement, or do we accept the use of PEDs?

Until we answer this question honestly the game will never be “clean.”  Personally, I wouldn’t mind a PED free baseball game.  I tend to like sports in their non-enhanced form.  For instance, I find college basketball far more energetic and entertaining than the NBA games.  Is this true for the majority of fans however?

We say we don’t want PEDs in sports because they are unhealthy for the players.  The following is a list of side effects copied from the MayoClinic website:

Men may develop:

  • Prominent breasts
  • Baldness
  • Shrunken testicles
  • Infertility
  • Impotence

Women may develop:

  • A deeper voice
  • An enlarged clitoris
  • Increased body hair
  • Baldness
  • Infrequent or absent periods

Both men and women might experience:

  • Severe acne
  • Increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture
  • Liver abnormalities and tumors
  • Increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart and circulatory problems
  • Prostate gland enlargement
  • Aggressive behaviors, rage or violence
  • Psychiatric disorders, such as depression
  • Drug dependence
  • Infections or diseases such as HIV or hepatitis if you’re injecting the drugs

Having read the effects, what are your thoughts?  Do we downgrade the game to protect the health of our boys?  Do we openly accept and endorse the use of steroids, sacrificing the health of our players and potentially teaching bad lessons to young impressionable fans?  Or do we maintain this “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to steroid use, every so often catching a player or two for a sacrifice?

I am a woman of clear opinions, lines, and values.  I do not like half-hearted solutions and problems being swept under the rug.  If we do not care about steroid use we should stop looking for it.  If we do care, we should crack down hard and rid the game of PEDs for good.  This short term suspension for players involved with a single supplier being lauded as the great clean-up of baseball is garbage.  MLB, do it right or not at all.

[This blog entry was originally posted in a slightly edited form on Ms. Spranger’s blog on August 9, 2013. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the author alone and do not represent the views of the Bioethics Program or Union Graduate College.]

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2 thoughts on “Dear Jhonny

  1. Do we differentiate between this and the general bioethicists dilemma of using medicine for enhancing function? Is this different from taking ritalin to enhance concentration for college exams? Is this different than wearing eyeglasses while taking a test? If the players in question were diagnosed with steroid deficiency…. (by a physician who believes that testing does not show marginal defliciency) and he prescribed steroid supplementation… If we disapprove of that, how can we allow thyroid supplements, melatonin supplements to sleep the night before, anti-nausea to prevent air-sickness on the flight to the game and so forth.
    And then there is the general question of ethics of medicine for enhancement rather than correction of a malfunction.

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