Aug 21, 2013 11:17 PM by Bill Halter
Performance enhancing drugs have become such a subplot in sports it's hard to watch an incredible athlete without wondering if they're on something. The PED culture in baseball seems to be getting better. In 2000, there were 5,693 home runs hit, a decade later in 2010, the 30 teams combined for just 4,613. A drop off of 1,080 home runs without any major rule changes other than drug testing that began in 2005.
15 year Major League veteran Ted Lilly started his career in 1999 with the New York Yankees and he says it didn't take long before he knew players were using drugs to get stronger, "there was some talk and then I think just kind of having a keen sense of the obvious" said Lilly who remembers watching guys in batting practice crushing the ball over the fence.
Lilly says he's always played clean but there were plenty of times he knew he was going up against a PED user. "It was a little more motivating. Kind of that feeling like, you want to beat them anyways" said Lilly.
Lilly thinks the use of steroids has gone down since MLB started urine testing players in 2005 but believes players are still using other PED's. "What happens is you have a lot of guys that will play clean for a while and then they'll walk into their free agent year and they'll take the risk. I imagine there's a good portion of guys that don't get caught" said Lilly.
Major League Baseball started blood testing for Human Growth Hormone this season, HGH isn't as effective in creating strength as steroids but can be detectable for a much shorter amount of time.
Milwaukee Brewer's outfielder Ryan Braun and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are the new poster boys for performance enhancing drugs, taking the mantle from Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
In 2012, Braun was suspended 50 games for testing positive for PED's after winning the 2011 MVP. Braun appealed the suspension and won the appeal after proving that the specimen collector broke the chain of custody of the sample by storing it in his refrigerator and not sending it out for 44 hours. Braun maintained his innocence after the positive test in 2012 but he recently accepted a 65 game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. "I think the punishment needs to be even more severe than it is. For example and it's nothing personal with Ryan Bruan's situation. I know Ryan but if you want to start to set a precedent. A guy comes out and publicly lies like that. I think that's the end" said Lilly.
Players are suspended 50 games for their first positive test, 100 games for a second and are banned for life if they test positive three times.
Lilly says in addition to tougher penalties for a positive test, players speaking out against drug users can help but he admits than can be hard. "Because there's good guys out there that made bad choices and you don't want to offend anyone but I think it's kind of past that point where especially for me if you have a repeat offender. I think you put that implement of lifetime ban in there real quick."
At 37 years old and currently without a team after the Dodgers released him, Lilly says he isn't thinking about using PED's to help him get back in the game. "I definitely want to prolong my career that's for sure. I want to keep playing but I feel like I've been able to have a relatively successful career naturally and I just don't want that attached to my reputation" said Lilly.
Former New York Giants offensive lineman Rich Seubert also talked with KSBY about performance enhancing drugs in football. Seubert doesn't see it as a problem because of the testing which is similar to the testing in baseball. "We could be randomly tested every week. For me there was really nothing we could do to get away with it because you never knew when your week was going to be. You walked into the locker room and you got a little sticker on your desk that said, meet in the bathroom to be tested" said Seubert.
The NFL drug tests players at the beginning of the season and then randomly tests 10 players per team, per week, during the season. Players can be tested in the off-season as well which happened to Seubert once. "My fifth or sixth year in the league I was back in Wisconsin and I got a phone call from the NFL saying I was randomly selected for the drug test. I was kind of upset about it because I was going on a fishing trip so I said, if you can be in Rosellville, Wisconsin in three hours I'll still be here or else I'll be up in a lake ice fishing. Sure enough he showed up on my parents door and we went in a bathroom and I peed in a cup and he watched and he left."
The NFL and players association are close to an agreement to allow random HGH blood testing as well.
The NBA conducts up to four random drug tests a year on players and the league is pushing for HGH testing. The NHL tests players once at the beginning of the season and once during the regular season with additional random in-season and off-season testing possible.
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