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Hickok SportsThoughts

Sports historian and author Ralph Hickok of www.hickoksports.com sometimes meanders on about current happenings in sports and sometimes looks back in languor.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Congress Discovers Steroids

Why now?
Steroids entered American sports more than 50 years ago, thanks to Russian weightlifters and Dr. John B. Ziegler.
The IOC began testing for steroids at the 1976 Olympics. Edwin Moses said in 1983 that at least 50% of America's Olympic athletes were using drugs, mostly steroids. A book entitled Death in the Locker Room: Steroids and Sports was published in 1984.
In 1988, Canada's Ben Johnson was stripped of the gold medal he'd apparently won in the 100-meter dash and the Canadian government set up a commission to investigate steroid use by athletes. Mainly because of the Johnson case, the U. S. Congress passed the Omnibus Anti-Substance Abuse Act, which created tough penalties for steroid trafficking. Two years later, the original Anabolic Steroid Control Act was passed. (That law was revised just last year.)
The NFL had already begun in-season testing of players for steroids in 1987. The league initiated random, year-round testing in 1990. The NCAA also began year-round steroid testing for football players in 1990 and added it for track and field athletes in 1992.
The July 8, 1991, issue of Sports Illustrated featured a cover story about Lyle Alzado, the former NFL defensive end who admitted having used steroids throughout his career, beginning in 1969 when he was playing for Yankton College in South Dakota. He blamed steroids for the inoperable brain cancer that led to his death in May of 1992. (It should be noted that no definite link has ever been found between steroid use and any kind of cancer.)
This is all old news, folks.
Suddenly, during spring training of 2005, the House Committee on Government Reform decided to hold hearings on the use of steroids by major league baseball players.
Why? Why now? And why the House Committee on Government Reform, of all things? Shouldn't those guys be investigating steroid use in government?
There are no bills before Congress that have anything to do with steroids, baseball, or steroids in baseball. In fact, as already noted, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act was revised less than a year ago.
So why?
Here's a hint: The same committee, led by the same folks who got at least their 15 minutes of fame by sitting in the reflected light from a handful of baseball stars, tried to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case and has now issued subpoenas for yet another bogus hearing "inspired" by that sad controversy.
I imagine it won't be long before they find a reason to subpoena Michael Jackson, maybe with his sister Janet, Liz Taylor, and Justin Timberlake, to "investigate" something or other.