Cultura y conciencia

Steroids Tarnish Our Own

Nelson Santana

Written by: Emmanuel Esencia

May 28, 2010

A few weeks ago we posted an article about Edison Volquéz, pitcher of the Cincinnati Reds who tested positive for steroids.  At a mere 26 years of age, Volquéz is already a Major League Baseball All-star and two year veteran. Being so young one would ask: What need would he have to use steroids? The reason, supposedly, was a fertilization treatment he was undergoing since he and his wife yearn to have a child, something that at his age one wouldn't think is necessary. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, if this were the case, he would have had to inform the league of the hormonal treatment by asking for a therapeutic use exemption or (TUE.) Nonetheless, the positive diagnosis marks him permanently like a bad tattoo.

On December 13th, 2007, the Mitchell Report was made public. This report is an investigation into the use of steroids and human growth hormones in Major League Baseball. The report opened a Pandora's box as it stated these substances were profusely used by baseball players. The initial report unmasked 89 players that were pointed out as buyers of steroids and/or human growth hormones.

Instances of steroid use have been well documented and made public since 2008 when the league started testing for anabolic substances. Aside from the initial list of 104 players, including Alex Rodriguez and David Oritz, not much information has been divulged with regard to the topic. This was a low blow for Dominicans since these players who were once placed on the pedestal of the national pastime for their achievements, now found themselves with a tarnished career. This would only be the beginning as in 2009 Manny Ramirez, another hall of fame candidate, became the most famous ballplayer to date to be suspended for the use of steroids; yet another slap to the face of the Dominican people. Now most recently, Edison Volquéz, who was hailed as the future of the Major Leagues, continued this cheating trend.

What does this mean for the Dominican players and the community?

In the world of sports athletes always seek an edge over competitors. It is no secret that in the past there existed a problem with amphetamines, which help athletes with physical fatigue. Steroids and human growth hormones are a totally different scheme since they help cellular repair, in other words they help muscle restoration, causing less injury down time and increasing strength. For this reason we were able to witness more homeruns in the "Steroid Era."

The only immediate effect the positive results have, among Dominican players, is planting the seed of doubt as to who used them and who didn't as well as what are the real stats of the ones who we speculate used performance enhancing drugs. This simply gives reason to increase the discrimination which Dominican players have already endured as they have overtaken Major League Baseball. For example, right away there were speculations that Albert Pujols -- considered the best baseball player in the Majors right now -- was using steroids. Over Manny Ramirez the shadow of doubt was cast as to what were his real stats since his numbers were Hall of Fame worthy.

In the long run, due to no regulations in Dominican facilities and the easy access to attaining any pharmaceutical will ultimately make the signing of Dominican players harder. It's already happening in terms of age verification problems when it comes to signing Dominican prospects. Simply put our Dominican players are falling into the hands of the people who want to scrutinize them and are giving them reasons to call them cheaters.

This is exactly what will fall upon the Dominican community as it will be seen as a reflection of our society as baseball players are Dominican Republic's biggest export. On top of the fact that we are viewed as corrupt people in politics due to incidents here in New York and on the island, which has been the norm. So the problem of performance enhancing drugs has a negative impact on our society and that American baseball players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have used them is no excuse. The fact that these players are testing positive after knowing these are banned substances is what makes it more embarrassing as this makes the players look like stupid idiots! A change is urgently needed to stop the usage of performance enhancing drugs among our own, but also in the sense of culprits because the revenues were shared but not the blame. The players carry the tattoos of being cheaters while the owners and the rest of the accomplices just wash their hands like Poncious Pilate.

Finally, I would like to state that despite not condoning the use of these substances, since it is a way to cheat the game we love so much, the ones that tested positive initially didn't really do anything wrong in the sense that it was not illegal at the time they did it. I don't exonerate the act but realistically speaking they did what many players did at the time. What I can say is that the ones that have been caught after these substances were banned, are jackasses disguised as baseball players. These same jackasses make us look bad to the world as they carry our flag not only in the best moments but also when they dirty it with mud.