Thursday, January 17, 2008

"The intellectual sloppiness with which this current crusade has been conducted is appalling"

Wherein I've said much of this before though probably not as well

Malcolm Gladwell, while "not advocating steriods be legalized," raises some questions:
  • "James," one of the commenters on the "Free Fernando Vina" post brought up the issue of Lasik eye surgery. That's a very good example. It is perfectly legal for an athlete to undergo "performance enhancing" eye surgery, that moves him from, say, the 50th to the 95th percentile in sight. It is not legal for that same athlete to take "performance enhancing" hormones that move his testosterone from the 50th to the 95th percentile--even thought the additional advantage of the eye surgery may be greater than the additional advantage conferred by the exogenous testosterone.
  • Similarly, it is perfectly legal for an athlete to get painkillers after an injury, so he can continue playing (and, I would point out, risk further injury.) It is not legal for that athlete to take Human Growth Hormone, in order to speed his recovery from that same injury. Again, why? What is the distinction? Why is it okay to play hurt but not okay to try and not play hurt?

  • Quotes from SI of athletes taking painkillers to keep playing and using a hyperbaric chamber.
  • Discusses situations where an athlete could legally take PEDs and asks if this would still violate MLB policy:
    8. So wait. The league's drug policy is an attempt to prevent the use of drugs without a prescription? No. Its supposed to prevent the use of a broad class of drugs. But since the league's policies clearly can't govern drugs prescribed legally by a physican--particuarly if they are undetectable-- it has the effect of only preventing the use of drugs obtained illegally.

    9. I'm confused. Aren't there already laws in place in America preventing the use of drugs without a prescription? Yes. (And I'm confused too.)

  • Free Fernando Vina:
    Let's assume, for a moment, that what Vina said was true--that he only took HGH because he was trying to recover from an injury. Let's assume the same of Pettitte and Bennett. I think we can also agree that there is reasonable evidence that Human Growth Hormone speeds recovery.

    So what, exactly, is wrong with an athlete--someone who makes a living with their body--taking medication to speed their recovery from injury? Is it wrong to take ibruprofen? Is it wrong to ice a sore elbow? For that matter, is it ethical or even legal for Major League Baseball--or indeed any employee or governing body--to deny an employee access to a potentially beneficial medical treatment?


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