How many athletes would use them if they were allowed? Steroids will never be unbanned but we already have seen what does happen when large groups of athletes use them. One doesn’t have to look very long ago to see the athletes from the Russian 2014 Winter Olympics team. This well publicized and documented scheme of doping was orchestrated at the highest levels in their sporting hierarchy. They used sophisticated methods to mask their testing and achieved great success at the Games. I cannot wrap my mind around why they felt they would get away with this crime when most all others in the past have gone down in a blaze of glory. For those who decide to partake in the usage, it comes down risk and reward.
Steroids, growth hormone, blood doping and all of the other ways to enhance performance are not going to ever go away. The only way to slow it down is to make the punishment for getting caught harsh enough to deter. Lifetime bans on incrimination may be the last step to rid the majority of the cheating. Even then, there will be some fools that will take the risk, especially if it means a chance at a big paycheck. Most athletes know when they are going to get tested so they cycle their schemes around those test dates. Random testing catches a few but I really don’t think that it has deterred usage with results that most sports entities are looking for.
As far as a solution with a Libertarian bend would be to lift all bans on usage and doping and let the forces have their way. Does it sound like madness? Records and statistics would go away because guys would probably smack 90 home runs a year, unless the pitchers are so much better that less home runs are hit. The usage would shorten the lives of many of the users, all statistics would have an asterisk placed next to them and children would get their hands on them. Bad idea, can’t happen, won’t happen.
Now we’re back to punishment as the only deterrent. Public shaming has be already be used as way of ridiculing the guilty but as you know, it has its limits. The professional sports leagues need to get tougher to combat the usage but they find they get pushback from players unions. The middle ground may be to have mandates placed in contracts that if you get caught using then you will have your contract revoked matter what is guaranteed. Let’s face it, the reason people go down the enhancement path is because of big pay days and that they be reinstated after serving a suspension.
It will come down to the players agreeing to harsher punishments, not the owners. The owners like the results that enhanced players bring but they hate it more when those players get caught, it reflects on their brand and franchises to allow cheating. The battle still needs to be fought over the stricter rules and that will involve lot litigation and negotiating. In the end, the players should want a level playing field but somehow the change is coming slow. Because the process is slow, newer methods are being discovered and ways of cheating are evolving faster than the rule makers can keep up with.
The Olympics are almost here so don’t be surprised to hear more and more about cheaters taking the risk. It’s unfortunate we will have to question if a world record is set in track and field race or Russian victories and some of the most innocent appearing participants being skeptically examined. The whole Olympic doping scheming goes back over 30 years and who knows how many world records were set with juiced athletes. I will just watch and enjoy the Games for what they are and never mind the suspicious activity, otherwise why have them at all.