This “Shout from The Stands” article is written by and courtesy of Steve Schade:
This whole debate about performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) is much ado about nothing. Most people take it as a given that these drugs actually improve performance. But primarily because they are illegal, no studies have actually confirmed this.
Some sports, however, lend themselves to analyzing the effects of PEDs. Baseball, because it is heavily statistics-oriented, is one of these. As Sports Illustrated showed, the percentage of home runs on balls in play is the same today as it was during the so-called “Steroid Era.” The only difference is that strikeouts are higher today. In addition, scoring decreased six years in a row. If steroids had been a factor, scoring would have dropped the year after they were outlawed and then leveled off after that. Clearly, steroids had no effect on performance in baseball.
In track and field, the field events are more likely to be affected by steroids. Yet field records date to the 1980s and 1990s. None have been set since steroids became an issue in sports. Furthermore, none of the Russian track and field athletes prohibited from participating in the 2016 Olympics for using PEDs set a record.
On the other hand, records are regularly set in swimming. Nevertheless, that sport has not seen a major drug scandal. Obviously, drugs do not enhance athletes’ ability to set records.
We should quit wasting money and destroying careers by testing for PEDs. Instead, the focus should be on the harm they can do to athletes’ bodies. Baseball players from that period should be given due consideration for the Hall of Fame, and medals lost because these substances were banned should be restored.
This is written by and courtesy of Steve Schade.