Did the MLB Ignore Steroid Use?

As early as the 1990s, Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner, Bud Selig, expressed interested in creating a mandatory drug-testing policy. However, it was not till 2005 with the release of Jose Canseco's book, Juiced, did Selig's interest become reality. Canseco admitted to using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) while pointing the finger at several other MLB stars as apparent users. It makes one wonder what caused the MLB's slow pace to implementing a drug-testing policy, did they want to ensure they had sufficient proof to support creating a policy or did they reap the rewards of a "juiced" player who set new records and brought in new fans?

The MLB was the only sports league that did not have a mandatory drug testing policy in place, but with the sweeping criticism received in response to Canceso's book and a federal investigation regarding players' steroid-use, the MLB imposed the harshest policy of any sports league. The new policy instituted a three-strike policy that would ban players for life if he had a positive steroid result a third time, while the previous two positives would produce a 50-100 game suspension. Although this strict policy appears to convey the MLB's disapproval of steroid use, I think it may have been instituted due to the public disapproval.

If we travel back in time to 1994, the MLB began the year without a new collective bargaining agreement, but this did not cancel the season even as they continued negotiations. However, by August 1994 the Players' Association went on strike due to the failed negotiations and effectively cancelled the 1994 postseason and shortened the 1995 season. After the strike, fans were angry and the MLB struggled to cope with declining ratings and game attendance. It was not till 1998 that MLB saw a revitalization of their sport through Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's race to break the single-season home-run record.

The record-setting season for both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa appeared to bring new life to a sport wrought with anger and greed. However, MLB insiders allege they were well aware of McGwire and Sosa's steroid and/or PED use during the record-setting season. Also, only three seasons later Barry Bonds would break McGwire's record, but his success would not bring such celebration because the public had become well aware of his alleged steroid use. These new allegations brought to light the apparent secret the MLB had ignored for years, but the public would not allow them to continue to sweep it under the rug. The MLB struggled, and still does, to regain their position as America's Pastime, but I am left wondering if riding the train of ignorance on the backs of steroid-fueled athletes was worth the money they were hoping for.

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