After 13 Major League Baseball players (none of them an Oriole!) were suspended for their involvement in the sports world’s latest peformance-enhancing drug scandal Monday, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said the penalties — twelve 50-game suspensions and one 211-game suspension — weren’t nearly tough enough. Markakis says a five-year suspension should be the bare minimum for a first offense but would “100 percent” support a lifetime ban. He added that it wouldn’t make a difference to him whether the offending player were a teammate or not.
And Tuesday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco took a similarly uncompromising stance on doping in sports, calling for drug testing in the NFL. “Test me and the guys as many ways as you can to make sure there’s nobody in the league that’s on anything,” he said, “because the last thing I want to be doing is having my guys, who I’m pretty sure are natural, going against guys that aren’t.”
Unfortunately, no matter the penalties, it’s a problem we’re likely to battle “for years and years and years to come,” according to psychologist and doping expert Steven Ungerleider.
University of Texas professor John Hoberman puts the “terrible predicament” this way: “[T]he sports-entertainment industry that is trying to put an end to endless doping scandals is the same industry that is providing the incentives that lead to doping in the first place.”
So we may always have performance-enhancing drugs (or the specter thereof) threatening to take the meaning out of professional sports, but at least we’ve got a couple players we can feel comfortable rooting for.