Hysteria Over PED Use Needs to End

Hysteria Over PED Use Needs to End

The real question now, though, is not "how mad should everyone be at Alex Rodriguez?" but rather "since this keeps happening, how can we start talking about and dealing with PEDs in a more productive way?"

Whether or not we ever manage to make the use of performance-enhancing drugs a rarity in sports, we should at least be able to find a way to break the cycle of PED revelation, upset and stale debate. Steroids are a fact of life in the modern athletic era, and sports discourse is chasing its own tail.

Use of performance enhancing drugs is an odd sort of transgression. It's not entirely victimless -- clean players feel pressure to use, which can have a negative effect on their health, but they may lose money if they don't, and suffer competitively; fans feel misled and dislike being lied to. But PED use is still minor enough that much of the hysteria around it (especially compared to potentially far more damaging crimes, like drunk driving or domestic violence) has come to seem overwrought. Partly in reaction to that, other fans dismiss it entirely: Who cares, I just want to watch the games.

We don't need to agree on how "bad" steroid use is. It's not wrong to care, and it's not wrong not to. But what this conversation badly needs are facts. Just how much, exactly, do steroids help athletes? How prevalent are they, really? What are the health risks, long-term? It's hard to see how we can react to the issue intelligently when there's so much information missing.

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