Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Hall of Shame

The integrity of competitive spectator sport has been facing the serious and ever growing threat of drugs of all kinds, particularly of the performance enhancement kind. And most sports bodies, not least the IOC, have been at the forefront of the battle against the drug cheats (is there a polite way to address them?), at times fighting a frustrating battle. Yet Major League Baseball chose to sweep the problem under the carpet, until it blew up in the face of Bud Selig and company (BTW, Bud Selig is the MLB commissioner). Almost every batting record established in the last decade or so is under a cloud. Barry Bonds is fast approaching baseball's holy grail, the home run record, and not many are convinced he is clean. Not in the aftermath of the BALCO scandal. Astonishingly, MLB decided to tackle the issue only after Arizona Senator and Vietnam war hero John McCain threatened to initiate US Congressional action. In a further act of stupidity, MLB announced punitive measures for offending players, which are a joke when compared to most organized, professional sports. It would take four offenses to get suspended for an entire season. Track and field athletes could be forgiven for filing discrimination suits, given the (justifiably) harsh punishments they get! Perhaps MLB hopes that identification of a player would be a stigma enough to act as a deterrent. By all accounts, that has not been the case if the history of doping in track and field and other Olympic sports like weightlifting are anything to go by. The latest episode in this sordid saga are the "revelations" by Jose Canseco. The reaction, including most of the media, has been to heap garbage on Canseco. They don't need to - he's already in piles of it. But to ignore his allegations would be a huge mistake, especially as he says owners were tacit conspirators. One of the owners he names is US President Bush - proving that baseball truly is America's pastime! - NK


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