“The responsibility” of government “for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is, in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence.” Winston Churchill
Why should Congress investigate steroid and doping in baseball, among other things? Why should federal security agencies (FBI, IRS) probe steroid dealers and juicing sports stars. After all, the war in Iraq drags on, costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives; the economy appears to headed into the dumpster, based on the Iraq deficit spending as well as the loans from the Chinese and Japanese; and the nation continues to be obsessed with terror, meanwhile not starting at ground zero by conserving energy which is a significant part of the Middle East equation.
Let us count the ways.
1. Sports, including baseball is a multi-billion dollar business. The New York Yankees value hits a high at $1.2 billion, while the lowest value for a baseball club is the Florida Marlins at $244 million. Add up the value of the other 22 teams in baseball, then move on to the NFL, NBA etc.
MLB revenue alone was $6.075 billion. MLB commerce by definition is interstate, unless every game is the Royals v. Cardinals, or the Cubs v. White Sox, or Mets v. Yankees.
Using PEDs to artificially pump up statistics, to influence the outcome of games, and to gain an advantage of non-PED users must invoke sports fraud somewhere along the line. Interstate sports fraud.
2. Those wonderful stadia where baseball players perform their heroics use taxpayers monies. Local taxing authorities provide much of the economics might for these stadia, while the owners and players collect billions of revenue. However, the bonds floated for construction of these edifices utilize federal tax free bonds. Once again billions.
3. The drugs used by juicers fall within federal regulation. The DEA regulates the use of anabolic steroids, as Schedule 3 drugs. Any use of these drugs must include a valid prescription by a licensed registered physician, prescribed for a legitimate medical condition. We cannot tell the amount of concern, worry, time, and expense spent at the medical level when any scheduled drug is prescribed.
4. The supply networks for these illegal drugs all operate outside the law. The juice is brought in from Mexico and from European counties. The Russian mafia controls some of the traffic. Chinese HGH makes its way into the black PED market. Rouge chemists synthesize steroids outside any regulation or control of the USDA, the DEA, and legitimate regulated pharmaceutical companies. The federal government subsumes responsibility for stopping these illegal drug distribution networks.
5. Use of anabolic steroids, HGH, EPO, stimulants and other methods of doping fall within the interest of public heath. The Center for Disease Control tracks the use of these drugs. There are several reasons for concern:
- The use of PEDs leads to long term side effects. Psychiatric, cardiac, endocrine, and digestive side effects cost time and money to treat. Aggressiveness costs lives in homicide (when juiced cops assault suspects, or pro wrestlers kill their family) and suicide, endocrine problems costs money in treatments (for gynecomastia etc.), and the various liver, blood, skin, and other medical side effects . Cardiac side effects lead to blood insufficiency, and heart failure over chronic use; see how many chronic users of anabolic steroids and HGH will undergo heart procedures which likely were exacerbated by dope use.
- If you don't care about the human aspects of disease, you might care about the monetary results of public health problems. Those problems above will be paid by your insurance company or by Medicaid and Medicare, this raising your rates and likewise raising your taxes.
- Steroids are addicting. That leads to abuse, and combined with other substance abuse constitutes a very real problem in public health. Substance abuse treatment centers now see patients addicted to steroids (#4 in the UK). Guess who pays for these costs? The taxpayers.
- There is evidence that the shiny pumped bodies of dope-bloated sports heroes exacerbate Muscle Dysmorphia in patients, thus increasing street use of steroids. Again these non-athlete users of anabolic steroids and PEDs suffer all the medical and legal problems mentioned above.
6. Despite the nausea caused in some quarters about sports stars serving as heroes and role models for youth, the phenomenon is real. Part of the deal Roger Clemens gets in his 36 million a year, stems from his entertainment and hero value. If Clemens were paid what he is worth to society then his salary would be much less. However, the fact of the matter is (and Clemens probably hasn't given it a thought) that his inflated salary comes from the kids and adults (who wish they were kids) who fantasize about athletic feats. With that adulation comes responsibility, including the responsibility at a minimum not to get stuck in the butt with illegal drugs.
Don't want that responsibility? Don't like the idea that millions of kids put your poster on their walls (and you collect the royalties)? Then play sports for the love of the game in back lots or softball diamonds; you will find the pay scale is much less than pitching for the Yankees.
Lucky 7. The moral argument carries much less weight these days. In the avaricious society that constitutes America, greed and publicity far override values such as honesty and moral direction. We hesitate to even include cheating as a reason Congress should look at PED use, because of the widespread acceptance of dishonest methods as a way to acquire fame and money.
Perhaps if cheating once again became verboten the Keith Obermanns of the world could spend less time on their view that their government deceives the public. Lying and cheating tolerated at any level increases the tolerance of dishonesty at the next level.
Apparently the people who would direct Congress to sit down only for Iraq, the economy, and other weighty issues don't care about public health, sports fraud, illegal drug use, and the overall tenure of a cheating culture. Fine, then who cares if your sewers flow smoothly, if you have running water, if electricity and phone service work, or if traffic drives on the right side of the street; all these issues are trivial compared to an 600 billion dollar war.
Only with the last round of Congressional hearing did the MLB strengthen anti-doping measures. It's about time that the MLB improves and tightens the entire anti-doping act once again; what better way to put motivation into the owners and the union than to show off MLB (and other sports) shortcomings on a national stage.