“The ones that have come out and admitted it, and are proven guilty, [their numbers] should not count. I’ve been cheated out of the game,” Oswalt continued.
As a Ranger, Rodriguez was 3-for-5 vs. Oswalt with two doubles, one home run, three RBIs and two walks. Last year, as a Yankee, Rodriguez was hitless in two at-bats against Oswalt.
“The few times we played them, when he got hits, it could have cost me a game,” Oswalt said. “It could have cost me money in my contract. He cheated me out of the game and I take it personally, because I’ve never done [PEDs], haven’t done it, and they’re cheating me out of the game.”
— Former MLBPA head Marvin Miller notes that ignorant coverage of performance-enhancing drugs’ benefits may actually encourage use.
“A kid who would love to be a professional athlete reads the sports pages or watches ESPN and is told over and over again, ‘These are performance-enhancing drugs. They will make you a Barry Bonds or an A-Rod or a Roger Clemens.’ The media, without evidence, keep telling young people all over the country, ‘All you have to do to be a famous athlete with lots of money is take steroids.’ The media are the greatest merchants of encouraging this that I’ve ever seen.”
Miller is a bit over the top here, because I think that anabolic steroids likely do enhance performance and players should want some testing system to prevent their use; however, when it comes to growth hormone, he’s dead on. The media has completely botched the coverage of this issue, which is one of the reasons why I think that growth hormone should be legalized.
The point is that players have a strong incentive to gain an edge on each other. This road will inevitably lead many of them to seek out illicit solutions in an area where the experts are the guys who sell the stuff. And when they investigate further, they find prominent sports reporters declaring that HGH is just as effective as steroids. Do you think players are going to search through the scientific literature on PubMed? Heck, if I didn’t share an office suite with exercise physiologists, I probably wouldn’t know any better.
At the end of the day, players are going to take a long hard look at the list of prohibited substances. The fact that these drugs are banned will be sufficient to convince most players that the performance-enhancing benefits are real.
First, I suggest a system of fines and bonus. This is a Pigouvian tax and subsidy system that taxes players in accordance with the external costs that users impose on non-users—users may feel the personal benefits of a higher salary outweigh the health risks—and then transfers the financial gains to non-users who earn relatively less due to the fact that they chose to remain clean. This has the deterrence effect similar to suspensions; however, the substantial fine revenue gives players who feel they are in a use-or-lose situation an incentive not to use and to identify new cheating methods.
Second, I propose handing over all monitoring and testing to the players. It is the players who suffer the most from steroids. They are in an arms races where steroids make no individual relatively better than any other player—hence, there is no financial gain—yet, users end up suffering health consequences. This resembles a prisoner’s dilemma game.