Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

On Baseball's Steroid Scandal

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

On Baseball's Steroid Scandal

Article excerpt

Who'd have guessed that Barry Bonds was just the tip of such a large iceberg? A week ago things looked so different. But after the release of the report conducted by former Sen. George Mitchell, detailing widespread abuse of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by some of the game's favorite players, the picture is now changed. Bonds - who claims he is innocent of knowingly using steroids - is now seen as just one, although possibly the most visible one, of many.

How titanic the damage is to Major League Baseball will largely depend on what happens next. Will baseball embrace Mr. Mitchell's recommendations for cleaning up the game? How will the players' union - which resisted meaningful drug testing in the past - now respond? What about Mitchell's related concern - that this is harmful not just to players taking drugs, but to kids across America admiring and imitating them? According to Mitchell, hundreds of thousands of teens take steroids. The health risks to adults are considered very real. The risks to teens are considered far greater.

One point the report emphasizes: It's not just players who bear the responsibility. Team owners, managers, conditioning coaches and more had a hand in creating this travesty. Perhaps that's why Mitchell is calling for no punishment of players who have erred in the past. It was easy to think, watching one of Mitchell's many TV interviews, that this no-punishment policy was an effort to seek healing. That, after all, is the need - healing to restore baseball to its once illustrious image, and to restore its influence on young people to one of wholesomeness. All this calls for widespread commitment from everyone who's a part of the game.

One plus in this quest for healing is, most MLB players appear to be clean. Despite the enormous pressures they face, it seems that most of them have opted not to involve themselves with the drugs.

As a sports fan who's far from the levers of power in MLB, I ponder my own contribution. …

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