Roid Raging

From The Open End:

It has been over a week since Rafael Palmeiro was outed for weezing the juice, and baseball fans around the country are still getting over what was obvious all along. Yet, more importantly than the demise of Palmeiro’s integrity is the fallout from this steroid fiasco.

Bud Selig has announced that baseball’s testing standards should become tougher. Congress is anxious to score some political points again, and it aims to possibly try Palmeiro for perjury. And now, nutrition companies are going to be held under the microscope as well.

Like Palmeiro, minor leaguer, Kevin Reinking is claiming that he didn’t knowingly take steroids. According to both men, the steroids found in their bodies were there because of nutritional supplements they had been taking that contained traces of banned substances. Natuarally, this shifts blame from the players to the supplements, and the war drums are already playing the tune of every concerned mother’s favorite song, “It’s Time to Ban Something.”

This would not be the first time nutrition products have come under attack. The prohibition movement have been quite active over the last year.

Last year, a ban on ephedra was passed into law until just recently, when the ban on ephedra was overturned due to the fact that it was found that taking ephedra was not in fact, the equivalent of taking a suicide pill (thus disproving many claims by legislators).

Last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to answer to the charges that he had a conflict of interest when he refused to sign a ridiculous bill that would have banned various protein powders and vitamins. Since California State Sen. Jackie Speier could not win the battle on ideological grounds, she instead attacked Schwarzenegger’s character.

Also, last month, the European Union moved to ban over 350 nutritional supplements and 75% of vitamins on the market. On top of that, legislation was slated to extend to proteins, enzymes, essential fatty acids, and various other health-related substances. The move was said to be one of the restrictive measures ever taken against the health and nutrition industry.

It is amazing how hysterical our society has become when dealing with these controversial steroid issues. People know little about the negative and positive impacts of steroids, and nearly every time they are discussed, the negatives are exagerated and the positives are labeled as cheating.

Now, it is true that Rafael Palmeiro broke league policy and he should be dealt with accordingly, but the conception of taking steroids as cheating is just plain false. The main reason people are down on steroids the most is because it can cause you to be bigger than others and perform and a greater level. Arguments based on the assumption that steroids are detrimental to one’s health are phoney arguments, or else the same people would be stumping to ban alcohol, cheeseburgers, breast implants, and Clay Aiken CDs. If getting bigger and better is intrinsically evil, then the United States should follow the examples of the European Union and Jackie Speier, and they should ban anything that can lead to these ends.

It is no secret. Athletes take supplements to build strength and enhance their performance. If they are in a competition that restricts a certain product, then either the athlete shouldn’t participate or they shouldn’t take the product. The answer is an individual choice; not a matter of law. We already have laws on the books banning steroids. Do we really want to take further steps into this prohibitionist trend? Will we ban creatine or proteins and restrict muscle growth? Will we will go after ephedra again and restrict people’s choice to lose weight? Or why don’t we just get rid of gyms altogether?

Sound absurd? I couldn’t agree more.

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