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December 13, 2007

Mitchell report: no surprises, no closure

The WSJ Health Blog has interviewed Charles Yesalis,  a professor emeritus of health and human development at Penn State and author of Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sports and Exercise.

Yesalis relates that performance-enhancing drugs first entered baseball when "professional baseball players who served in the Army brought back amphetamines." He feels that amphetamines are still being used. The Mitchell report does not cover this class of drug. He views the Mitchell report as anticlimactic.

In 1998, as a possible solution, Yesalis recommended that the various sports governing bodies provide $100 million in funds to support chemists who need to develop the tests needed to detect the new crop of performance-enhancing drugs. He now feels that it's not possible to plug all the loopholes that corrupted researchers may come up with.

Is there any solution? I don't think anyone would imagine that there would be a fan boycott in response to revelations like today's.

What about the integrity of the sport? What about our young athletes who are seeking these performance-enhancing drugs? Why are different standards being used for different sports? Will the actions against Marion Jones, taking away all her medals and financial rewards from the Sydney games, be matched in the MLB?

Michael Kay of ESPN radio is now talking on the radio, asking what MLB's endgame will be. He thinks that Barry Bonds is the big winner in today's announcement. "He's not the only bad guy."

But it's not about the endgame or closure at all. Presently, MLB has finally come to terms with their acceptance of this pervasive drug use, and it was for their financial interests and little or nothing to do with the health of these athletes. If today seems difficult, the future is even more daunting now that we know that these performance-enhancing work so well.


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