steroids-mlbIt was in Dec. 13, 2007 when the bombshell that was the Mitchell Report was released. The 409-page, 20-month, and finger-pointing report has focused on the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone in the Major League Baseball.

The dwindling confidence of fans and the heightening pressure from legislators had forced MLB commish Bud Selig to request former senator George Mitchell to conduct an independent investigation on use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport.

The Mitchell Report has aired out MLB’s dirty laundry in public podium and has prompted the league’s officials to take steps to clean up in the aftermath – it implemented tougher penalties for erring players.

Now, a year later, how has the Mitchell Report impacted America’s pastime?

“It appears that [steroid] use is down, but it’s probably too early to make a definitive statement,” Mitchell wrote in an email to Boston Globe. “Our investigation provided further evidence of what has been a widely held belief – that some athletes will use substances that they think will enhance their performance if they believe they won’t be caught. Because of the money involved, there will always be persons seeking to develop new and undetectable illegal performance-enhancing substances.”

“Major League Baseball and the Players Association have responded positively to the report, and they’ve taken significant steps to improve the approach to the problem of performance-enhancing substances.”

But to Dr. Charles Yesalis, an anti-doping expert and professor of Health Policy and Administration, Exercise and Sport Science at the Penn State, MLB’s response needs more than just the press releases – it requires an independent testing program. MLB’s current program is mostly dictated by collective agreement of team owners and players. In short, it’s self-serving.

“Independent oversight means there is a totally independent third party running the program, which they don’t have,” said Yesalis, who has testified before Congress re steroid abuse.

“The era of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball is still in its infancy,” said Yesalis. “It hasn’t died by any means, and to think otherwise is terribly naíve.”

Only three players were suspended last season for violating the major league anti-doping policy. In 2003, the first year of random testing, 104 major leaguers tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

In the minor league, specifically at the Dominican Summer League, at least 40 players tested positive for anabolic steroids and other prohibited compounds.

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