George Mitchell’s testimony this morning on performance enhancing substances brought some very important discussion topics into the limelight that should be addressed. Before I start, I’d like to note that Mitchell was an excellent choice for this investigation and garnered much respect from Congress throughout the morning. His opening statement and responses during the question and answer session were calm and collected. He used his words very carefully and precisely. His responses were very clear and when he didn’t know an answer, he said so. He also prepared for the question and answer session beforehand and it showed, he had all the facts right in front of him.
Now, onto the important and difficult-to-tackle issues:
- Anyone who wanted to see the evidence Mitchell had on them, needed to consent to an interview. Thinking hypothetically about this, even if you were not guilty, it may not make sense to go to Mitchell to plead your case as you as forced to concede to this interview. Only one player came forward and did have his name removed from the report, but still..it’s only one player.
- What defines a performance enhancing substance? I’ve pondered this one for a while as well. It almost seemed throughout the morning that it really went undefined (a big problem). It’s implied we are talking about illegal performance enhancing drugs. Okay. Well where do we draw the line? On a basic level, water enhances people’s performance, so does oxygen. What about a multi-vitamin? What about fish-oil? Flax-seed oil? These all provide relief and can “enhance performance” (potentially). Then we make the jump to steroids. And then we have HGH, undetectable in its use in a urine sample. What about gene doping? No one mentioned that this morning. Is that okay? MLB and any other professional sports want to eliminate “performance enhancing drugs” they need to clearly define what is and is not allowed. Perhaps instead, a whitelist of approved substances would be easier to manage than trying to keep an constantly updated blacklist of banned substances. If something new comes out, the league can take its time to consider its usage, and until it’s approved or disapproved, the league will maintain integrity.
- Does steroid/HGH usage lead to enhanced performance? Do we really have any proof that if someone takes steroids they will magically be able to hit a lot of homeruns? We can look at Bonds for that and see he hit 73 homeruns and it was all due to steroids, perhaps that is proof enough. But to play devil’s advocate, you still need to have some talent that steroids can’t provide. While steroids might make you stronger in a shorter amount of time, will they give you better hand/eye co-ordination? Will they allow you to see pitches more clearly? Besides increased strength in a shorter time frame, it’s difficult to quantify the exact benefits of steroids (not everything a steroid does for you is good either).
- Andy Pettitte. Roger Clemens. Brian McNamee. Mitchell was ready for this question and ultimately said that, due to McNamee awareness of the penalties for lying to him for the report and Andy Pettitte’s admission of McNamee’s statements, he is led to believe him. I would agree. However, it is still not with certainty he is telling the truth. Just because McNamee was truthful about Petite. does not guarantee he is also truthful about Clemens. Trying to connect these two is really a serious error in judgment and falls under the fundamental attribution error (“an extrapolation from a measured characteristic to an unrelated characteristic”). Also, Mitchell admitted that one person came forward to combat evidence in the report and was successful. Who provided this bad accusation? McNamee?
- What about the kids? If anything, this whole ordeal has brought into light the fact that many of today’s youth are using steroids to gain an edge in sports; reports from the testimony indicated anywhere from two and six percent of high school students use steroids. High school students are under a lot of pressure to excel both academically and scholastically in hopes of earning top spots at prestigious universities and Division I scholarships. While a student’s focus should be on performing to the best of their ability, where do we draw the line? How do educate students to refrain from making potentially life-threatening choices at such a young age when the demands and expectations of them are so high?
Tags: Andy Pettitte, Brian McNamee, Mitchell Report, Roger Clemens