Illegal drug use in sports has now become a sad realityNowadays, if you want to indicate that something is fancy put the word “designer” in front of it. Put the word designer in front of drugs and you get a word that, according to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, has been officially used in the world of sports since 1983.
The official battle against drugs in sport started in 1968, when the International Olympic Committee published a list of banned substances. They went further at the 1976 Munich Olympics and enforced drug tests for the first time.
Nevertheless, the clandestine battle between the cheaters and the people who want to keep sport pure has not stopped, nor will it for the foreseeable future. Let’s admit it, is there anything more powerful than the desire to be admired by millions of people for something you’ve achieved?
That desire is a drug itself, for which there is no cure. The discovery of THG, a new designer drug, was good but it was a lucky break; if it had not been for an informer, its existence would still be a secret known only to those who made and used it.
Several athletes’ names have surfaced in association with the drug’s discovery, and among those are well-respected players such as Barry Bonds, who established a major league home run record in 2001 by hitting 73 balls out of the park.
The verdict is still out on whether the slugger took the drugs or not, but one thing is certain: Whatever the outcome, people will never look at him the same way.
There will always be a glimmer of doubt, and what’s worse is that baseball itself will be viewed in a different way. Under this cloud of suspicion the game will lose its purity, and that’s the saddest part.
Although the consensus is that drug use isn’t fair, over time, people have become immune; more and more it seems that the only thing that matters are stats.
Designer drugs have never been an issue in Korea, because the overall consensus is that performance-enhancing drugs are still somewhat exotic in Korea’s baseball world.
Nevertheless, with the influx of foreign players since 1998 there are two trends that have emerged in the sport here: the introduction of heavy weight-training regimes and the taking of supplemental health food.
When Samsung Lions catcher Jin Gab-yong admitted that he took a prohibited drug in 2002, the first such incident in Korea, the Korea Baseball Organization promised that it would come up with measures to deal with such situations.
Yet a call to the organization confirmed that there is still no mechanism in place to screen for drug usage, nor are there any such plans to do so in the future.
That the sole reason for such a laid-back attitude is that Jin Gab-yong’s case was an isolated one is not satisfactory.
Currently, only members of the national team who play in international matches such as the Asian Games are tested, meaning that professional players are not subject to any kind of testing unless they are on the team. Even when giving urine samples, the procedures are very slack; players are allowed to go by themselves into the bathroom.
The best time to prepare for undesirable situations is before they occur, not after. When there is so little known about performance-enhancing drugs on the peninsula, we need to be better prepared.
by Brian Lee
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