How Baseball Drug Testing Works

Author's Note

I've never been that huge of a baseball fan, I admit, so I probably wasn't as shocked as some real devotees of the game when the first revelations of players using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs began to emerge a few decades ago. I do have some sense, however, of how much damage these drugs can do -- not just to the integrity of the sport, but to the athletes themselves. Back when I started my journalism career in the early 1980s, I was doing an interview with someone at the Pittsburgh Steelers' training facility when offensive lineman Steve Courson happened to walk into the room. He looked shorter than his listed height of just more than 6 feet, but his torso was so thickly muscled that he looked like a comic book superhero. I couldn't help but notice that for such a robust physical specimen, his breathing seemed to be oddly labored. I thought maybe he had a bad cold. Years later, though, it emerged that Courson had a serious heart condition that he believed was caused by abusing bodybuilding drugs. To his great credit, Courson -- who died in 2005 in a tragic tree-cutting accident -- eventually not only voluntarily went public with his own steroid use, but became an eloquent spokesman about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps baseball needs its own Steve Courson to help clean up its act.

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