Abuse Can be a Big Deal but Use is a Way to Heal
There’s an old saying that everything is okay in moderation. There are some instances where that simply isn’t true. However, in the case of circumstantially legalizing certain banned substances in Major League Baseball I think this saying holds true.
In previous decades, we saw players get juiced up on all different kinds of androgenic steroids, anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and every other kind of extreme drug that would induce muscle mass and cause players to turn into the massive, chiseled, greek god like beings. This obviously caused evident competitive advantages as players who had previously been mediocre became these powerful home run threats at the plate and rise to stardom after being the scrawny role player. The problem that arose during this time period was the blatant abuse of performance enhancing drugs and of course the problem it created with competition.
But because of this time period in Major League Baseball, I believe that not only has Major League Baseball learned how to crack down on steroid abuse but the scientific and technological advances made since then would allow the implementation of these substances as healing agents to go smoothly. Everything can be tracked now for the most part so monitoring players levels of injury, monitoring drug levels, collecting data, and whatever else needs to be done to ensure the program runs correctly shouldn’t be an issue.
If there was a downside to some of these PED’s being implemented into Major League Baseball, it would have to be the risk that some of these drugs can have on an individuals health. The article “Androgenic anabolic steroid-induced liver injury: two case reports assessed for causality by the updated Roussel Uclaf Causality Assessment Method (RUCAM) score and a comprehensive review of the literature” is a case report that assess two people who used anabolic androgenic steroids and experienced anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) induced liver injury as a result of doing so.
The first person they studied was a 30 year old man with a history of taking creatine supplements for performance but claimed he’d never taken AAS. The man claims to have been experiencing jaundice and diarrhea in the recent past. As the first part of his assessment they measured levels in his liver. The results are as stated “His bilirubin was 181μmol/L, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) 66 IU/L, alanine transaminase (ALT) 257 IU/L and creatinine (Cr) 97 μmol/L.” His levels in ALP and Creatine levels were in a normal range but that’s not the case for his bilirubin and ALT levels. According to UCSF Health, a normal level range for ALT is between 4 and 36 IU/L. If I’m any good at math, he’s quite passed that range by a few hundred. According to Mount Sinai Health Library, normal levels of bilirubin are between 1.7 and 20.5 μmol/L. Yet again, the mathematician in me says these levels are high by quite a bit. His symptoms worsened over the next week or so and he eventually had to be admitted to the hospital where they found chronic hepatitis B. The hepatitis was easily managed but something was still wrong. He admitted to use of an AAS upon further questioning as his liver biochemistry worsened. To make a long story short, his levels kept spiking to dangerously high levels and it took a series of medication, medical practices, and 2 months time for his levels to return to normal after stopping steroids.
The reason his case is important to mention when discussing potentially implementing drugs similar to the ones he was using back into Major League Baseball is because he’s in a similar demographic to a majority of the league’s players. That demographic of course being men around 30 years old (MLB average player age is 26-30 years old in 2022 according to Statista).
I can’t say for certain players in the league who look at a case like this man’s will be ok with using substances similar to the ones that this man used as it compromised his health. But what I can say is that the man in this case took these drugs on his own without any prescription or any kind of supervision. We know this because when asked about use of AAS use the article states “He used Creatine supplements for performance enhancement but denied AAS use”. This of course was prior to him admitting his use of an AAS after he learned about the severity of his liver biochemistry. He could’ve taken ridiculous amounts of these drugs and had no clue the harm he was doing until he finally was assessed by a doctor.
Before I go any further I want to clarify that I don’t think that a case like this man’s is impossible for a player to experience as a result of Major League Baseball adopting a system as previously mentioned to regulate PED’s. But I do believe that the chances would be quite low considering the amount of time, effort, supervision, technology, equipment, and knowledge that would be backing a program that’s being implemented in a multi billion dollar industry. Let alone the league itself, each team is so incredibly wealthy that staffing a group of people who’s sole priority is to monitor these players during their recovery while using PED’s would be something that owners would be more than willing to spend their money on. Owners spend so much on star caliber players that it is worth every penny to do everything in their power to keep them on the field where they can do what they’re getting paid to do. When the stars of the game are on the field more consistently, it makes it so much more enjoyable for fans to watch games knowing that night in and night out the best of the best will be going at it. What was once a skid mark on the face of baseball (the skid mark being PED’s) could really be a “game-changer” for the future of Major League Baseball.
Androgenic anabolic steroid-induced liver injury: two case reports assessed for causality by the updated Roussel Uclaf Causality Assessment Method (RUCAM) score and a comprehensive review of the literature
Major League Baseball rosters by average player age in 2022
Alanine transaminase (ALT) blood test
*All sources accessed on April 12th, 2023*