Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  By ART REGNER  |  Last updated 7/24/13
With the suspension of former NL MVP Ryan Braun and rumors swirling about Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta perhaps suffering the same fate, the debate on whether athletes taking PEDs is really a big issue or not is again at the forefront of the 24-hour news cycle. For years now, when the topic of steroidsPEDs comes up, most fans seem to have a ho-hum attitude. As long as their athletic heroes perform, produce and entertain, who really gives a hoot if theyre taking banned substances or devouring chocolate-frosted donuts or downing a case of red pop or something stronger? For many, the bottom line is all about winning. I've spent endless hours on the radio discussing the subject of doping and don't agree with that line of thinking. Even though many athletes seem willing to sacrifice a few years off their lives by taking banned substances to enhance their on-the-field activity or reduce their recovery time from injury or bask in individualteam glory, it's cheating and in most instances illegal. During the Cold War, there used to be a joke about the womens swimming team from East Germany. Back then, Olympic competition between free nations and communist nations was fierce. If your country could dominate an Olympic event, become a real force, it was used as propaganda to glorify your system of government. And no team was as good as the women swimmers from East Germany. At the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the East German women won every swimming event except two: the 4 x 100 freestyle relay won by Team USA, which set a world record (East Germany finished second), and the 200m breaststroke, which was swept by the former Soviet Union. It was truly an exceptional feat, but the world had their suspicions. Each East German swimmer had the same body type -- big, powerful and manly. When communism fell in East Germany, documentation of an elaborate doping system became public knowledge. East Germany doped up almost all of their athletes -- most of them unaware of what was being done to them. The consequences for these athletes has been devastating, especially for the East German women swimmers, who have suffered severe health issues later in life. East Germany pretty much invented modern-day doping. Today, athletics has hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Dr. Frankensteins administering god knows what to their willing subjects. Thats right, willing subjects. Athletes who dope are our societys version of Dorian Gray -- perfect on the outside and totally damaged on the inside. We should care if an athlete is cheating. If youre doing something wrong, there should be a penalty to pay. Athletes are role models. Theyve ascended to the very top of the celebrity ladder, where even Hollywoods beautiful people want to be seen with them. They might live in an insulated world, a sheltered environment, but what they do has enormous ramifications with our most impressionable: young people. I understand that each of us must cultivate our own garden, that its our responsibility to raise our families and adhere to a moral code of decency. But if the fertilizer is spoiled, despite our best intentions, what grows will be flawed -- even though it might look picture-perfect.
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