The Performance Enhancement Nightmare Continues

Everyone might be talking about Lance Armstrong's guilty plea, but I'm still more troubled by the ongoing MLB scandal. Everytime I think that the "Steroid Era" in baseball is over, new evidence emerges that ballplayers are still juicing. Even though Major League Baseball has implemented important testing and punitive measures to end illegal performance enhancement that has tarnished the sport, some of the biggest stars of the game continue to be caught with high testosterone levels, indicative of human growth hormone abuse. Two big stars have been suspended 50 games this week -- San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera and Oakland A's pitcher Bartolo Colon.

I've addressed the performance enhancement scandal before and it seems like the issue just won't go away. The saddest part of all this is that not only has a whole generation of the National Pastime's history been forever tainted, now even legitimate achievements might be looked at with a skeptical eye and unsubstantiated questions of "What if?"  A prime example of that is ESPN's Skip Bayless speculating on air, with admittedly absolutely no proof whatsoever, about the integrity of the New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is having an incredible season, building upon an incredible career. If Jeter were achieving all this at the age of 45, I would understand some people going "hmm" even if no evidence to suggest any wrongdoing was unearthed, but Jeter is only 38. Jeter should sue for defamation and slander, but any more attention to the absurd and unprofessional speculation would only add to the unsubstantiated gossip. Until proven otherwise, Derek Jeter still remains one of the classiest acts in baseball, if not in all of sports.

If Babe Ruth played today and accomplished everything he did during his heyday and more, would he be viewed as a cheater? If Roger Maris broke his single season homerun record today, would people look at him the way they do at Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa? If Hank Aaron knocked in all those homeruns during his career in this day and age, would we question how he did it? If Mariano Rivera returns from his injury and adds another great season or two to his amazing career, will folks look at him with accusatory gazes too?

Steroids of course still impacts other sports as well, from the Olympics to cycling, but baseball is my favorite and means the most to me. I hope someday we can all witness athletes accomplishing new heights without the spectre of performance enhancing drugs and techniques making us question their validity.