BY DAVE GOLOKHOV Ask Men
Oh, you thought performance-enhancing drugs were gone from the game of baseball? You know, after the BALCO bust, the implementation of stricter testing, harsher punishments -- cheating was supposed to be wiped out, right? Turns out the Game of Shadows is still going strong and is more like the Game of Thrones: the players will do whatever it takes to get to the top.
Meet Anthony Bosch, the newest keeper of the realm whoís been sleazily assisting baseball players make the climb in recent years. Heís the director of Biogenesis, which, in short, is a Miami-area clinic thatís been helping athletes get around the steroid restrictions by providing new refreshments, like deer antler spray. We first received ravens back in January around the Super Bowl when names like Alex Rodriguez and Ray Lewis were linked to the clinic and its PEDs. Major League Baseball sent its banner men to investigate and now, after pinning Boschís balls to the wall, they finally have the evidence they need to go public. The catalog is filled with A-listers, including A-Rod, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera and Ryan Braun, who emphatically declared his innocence after beating steroid allegations last February.
Oh, donít be so surprised; itís not the Red Wedding. Itís not even really a game-changer.
Sure, the list is quite impressive, and no name is bigger than the one at the top of the list. Ryan Braun, the five-time all-star is a liar. Ryan Braun, the 2011 NL MVP is a cheater. Ryan Braun, one of the best players in baseball, is a doper.
Itís even worse since he pleaded innocence after being busted the first time. Weíd love to have his head on a spike, but letís not be naÔve like Sansa Stark: What would be more surprising is if this was the end of it. There will be more cheating, more drugs and more lies. Unfortunately, in this Game of Thrones, thereís no happily ever after.
The truth is that there is no deterrent for baseball players to stop taking steroids. Will A-Rod, if suffering the same fate as Braun, have to give back any of his millions? Does Braun have to give back his MVP honor? Oh, he's giving up a piddly $3.85 million of the five-year, $105 million extension he signed in 2011? How tragic. How about known alleged dopers, like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa -- have they been removed from the record books? Have there been any long-term health ramifications for using performance-enhancing drugs? Itís not like retired baseball graybeards are dying off like former WWE wrestlers who (possibly) doped.
So whereís the downside? If youíre a player who's right on the border of making a Major League roster or staying in the minors, of course youíd get a boost to make your dreams come true. And if youíre an average player and you can become a multimillionaire All-Star with the help of a steroid, youíre going to use it. And if performance enhancing is rampant and spreads like a wildfire, then everyone needs to take it just to be on the same playing field.
As Tyrion Lannister says: ďMost men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.Ē Thatís the reality for sports fans. We want to believe that everyone is clean and that athletes are playing fair. As today shows us -- once again -- the hard truth is quite different. It will always be that way.
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