The Effects of Steroids in Baseball

Baseball on the Pitchers Mound

Competitive baseball has been around since its first official game back in 1846. Although some of the rules have changed since its first inception, baseball has largely remained the same, even as the world around it has changed. However, the sport was changed starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s as steroid drugs in several different forms made their way into the game.

Cause of Steroid Use

Baseball players are under extreme amounts of pressure to play at their highest level, with money and fame often attached to good athletic performance. As such, steroids such as testosterone shots and the illegal use of anabolic steroids became common to promote muscle building, which in turn increased strength and ability, especially in relation to being at bat and increased chances of hitting home runs. For example, in 1961 the record for players hitting at least 40 home runs in a season was eight. In 1996 17 players hit at least 40 home runs within the season.

Baseball Image

One of the main effects that steroid use had on baseball is a change in the image of both the game and the players of the game. Baseball was generally considered to be free of steroids until 1992 when trainer Curtis Wenzlaff was arrested for distributing steroids to players. Wenzlaff suggested that he obtained steroids for Jose Conseco as well as 20 to 30 more unnamed players within Major League Baseball. Later, some of the most prolific players in the game had their image tarnished by steroids allegations, including Mark McGwire, Ken Caminiti, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Alex Sanchez, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez, to name a few.

Mandatory Testing and Penalties

As steroids became increasingly more apparent, the administrators of Major League Baseball made major changes to the testing policies in 2004. These changes added steroids such as anabolic steroids to the testing panel for urine tests. The testing parameters were expanded to even more steroid-like substances in 2005, with several new penalties for second- and third-time offenses. Along with these changes came the addition that the names of baseball players who test positive for steroids would be made public in all future tests. The new penalties have since landed several high-profile players suspensions lasting from 10 to 80 games.

Player Health

Another potential effect of steroid use in baseball is the lasting effects on the players who chose to use the drug. Common side effects of steroid use vary in severity and may include severe acne development, shrunken testicles, liver abnormalities, tumors, drug addiction, prostate enlargement, breast growth and infertility. Steroids may also increase the player's levels of bad LDL cholesterol and decrease good HDL cholesterol, putting the player at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.