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MLB needs to clean up act

first_imgBack in the summer of 1998, Major League Baseball was caught up in the great homerun chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Both players battled back and forth to see who would get to that all-important 62nd home run first. While McGwire ultimately reached 62 before Sosa, fans everywhere — no matter what team they affiliated with — were captivated by the chase. It seemed nothing could go wrong in the game of baseball.Fast-forward just three short years later to 2001. San Francisco Giant slugger Barry Bonds — who was 37 years old that season — surpassed McGwire’s record of 70 home runs in a single season, and eyebrows were raised. How could a record so magical fall again in just three years? It took 37 years for McGwire to break Roger Maris’s record, and now Bonds had broken McGwire’s in just three seasons. Questions of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs began to arise. From that point on, anytime anyone in the game did anything great, thoughts of steroids came up in the back of the fans’ minds.Even when we want to believe a player is clean, evidence or tests prove they have taken some sort of steroid. Case in point: Rafael Palmeiro. During the congressional hearing, under oath, Palmeiro vehemently denied ever taking steroids. Four months later he became only the fourth player in MLB history to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Then just two weeks later, it was revealed that he tested positive for steroids. Even feel-good stories have endings with a sour note. This season, St. Louis pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel made his return to the majors with a bang by hitting a home run in his first game as an everyday player. But less than a month after his return, Ankiel is now tied up in a human growth hormone (HGH) scandal.However, it finally appears that MLB — and more specifically the Major League Baseball Players Association — can take a positive step to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs.According to a report on ESPN.com, a mass-use blood test for HGH will be ready in the coming months. If this report is true, it is time for the union to finally step up and start thinking about the players’ health instead of ways to raise salaries to another ungodly level. They need to approve testing for HGH beginning with the 2008 season for a number of reasons. It took a congressional hearing — where legislators basically had to demand that baseball institute a tougher drug-testing program — for the players union to finally agree to drug testing. Now Donald Fehr and other union execs have a chance to do something that is not only in the best interest of the players, but the best interest of the game. They need to be proactive with this test, instead of waiting until Congress once again forces their hand. Up until now, the reason HGH wasn’t tested was because there was no test for it. Now that one will become available shortly, MLB and its union can further rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs by instituting random HGH tests. And it also appears that MLB has a chance of getting a leg up on the NFL in drug testing by implementing the HGH test as soon as it is available. In the same report on ESPN.com, NFL union head Gene Upshaw said, “There’s no way I’m having my guys punched for a blood test every time they walk into a locker room.”Fehr and the rest of the union need to change their stance and get the HGH test put in place as soon as it becomes available, for the sake of the players and the sake of the game.Greg is a senior majoring in communication arts. He is also the co-design director of The Badger Herald. He can be reached for comments at gschmitz@badgerherald.comlast_img read more