Sports Law: Thoughts on PEDs in Football
This is not legal advice and I am not licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction.
Should you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
This Week’s Topics:
Recreational Drug Policies in Pro Sports and Changing Attitudes about Marijuana
Steve Howe Arbitration, and Pittsburgh Pirates v. David Parker
Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Biogenesis (including MLB v. Biogenesis and ability of New York Yankees to void Rodriguez’s contract)
Painkiller Abuse in the NFL
Steroids Policies: U.S. v. Barry Bonds, U.S. v. Roger Clemens, and Lance Armstrong v. US Anti-Doping Agency
Vijay Singh v. PGA Tour
I hesitated a bit calling this a sports law article. I don’t cite case law or statutes. However, I think it is important to keep this in the series in case I come back to the topic. As always, if you’d like me to come back to the topic, please leave a comment.
This post could easily be just about recreational drug use and athletes. However, aside from (1) the medicinal uses of marijuana (on which I don’t feel particularly qualified to speak) and (2) the specific numbers of who gets what ban in which league, there’s nothing particularly interesting about recreational drugs in sports. Rich people, middle class and lower class people all use recreational drugs. Rich people (and I’m including major professional athletes in that category) just have more and/or better quality drugs. It’s not rocket science.
What’s really interesting about drugs in sports is performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Now, I’m going to use PEDs to mean banned substances, but caffeine is a drug and is arguably performance enhancing. Caffeine also has side effects, but they aren’t particularly bad. In certain sports (golf for instance), alcohol could also be a performance enhancing drug, but as far as I’m aware it isn’t banned for its performance enhancing nature, so I’m not going to talk about it.
Drugs in sports, crosses sports from football, to gridiron, to basketball, to, of course, baseball. However, while I enjoy college gridiron, basketball and baseball, those sports are well covered in the MSM (well, maybe college baseball isn’t, but PEDs in the MLB is well-documented). No, as the title suggests, I’m going to talk about PEDs in football (aka soccer).
Tim Vickery thinks PEDs in football are not a big deal because unlike smashing homeruns, the ability to kick the ball 100 yards doesn’t do a ton. Skill, he thinks, is still the most important thing. While I suppose I agree with the assertion that it is less important in football than in baseball, I wouldn’t take it as far as he seems to. Baseball still requires skill. It isn’t track and field. I could take lots of PEDs, but I’m still not going to be able to hit a 95 mph fastball or pick up the curve of a curve ball. While I might be able to throw 95mph, PEDs aren’t magically going to make me find the plate or be able to throw a curve ball. In fact, even the hysteria over PEDs and home runs might be inflated.
But if I’m right and Vickery is wrong (or maybe Vickery is right, and people just need to apply his thoughts to other sports), why are PEDs not a bigger deal in football? Well, maybe players take them and there just hasn’t been a scandal. Maybe, for all the problems US society has in general, this is something on which we are ahead. I’m assuming with that statement that our “big four” are ahead of other leagues in PED-testing, but European basketball players and Latin baseball players get caught too.
Perception could be a big force in the lack of PED use. If footballers think like Vickery, then what’s the point of getting banned and the potential side effects? If baseball players think it is going to help their careers, does it matter if it actually does?
Even as Vickery plays down their use, PEDs have long been associated with the sport. After the Maradona World Cup ban, their was a scandal in Italy (isn’t there always a scandal in Italy?) and aside from Maradona some huge names have been associated with PEDs. I’d like to say that the names have been bigger in baseball, but they don’t get bigger than Maradona. He has been associated with all sorts of drugs, performance-enhancing and otherwise, so maybe you just write him off. Edgar Davids is a pretty huge name and Frank De Boer and Japp Stam are pretty big names as well. Thus, I’m a bit confused by the perception that no one is using them. I guess the big name PED use in football goes back more than a decade, and people have short attention spans.
As always, if you want to know more about PEDs, you know, like the legal risks, or if you’d like to know more about recreational drug use in sports, just let us know and we’ll be happy to bring more coverage.
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