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Today’s Drug Warrior Nonsense

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I’m generally a fan of Tyler Kepner, but yikes this is a really bad argument:

Alas, Steinbrenner acknowledged that Rodriguez would be back next season. No surprise there: Teams tend not to cut players to whom they owe $61 million for the next three years.

“I know my brother-in-law ran into him in the city, says he looks good, he’s fit,” Steinbrenner said. “You know Alex is a hard worker; Alex will be ready. We just have to go from there, see how he does and how he responds to playing every day in spring training.”

Rodriguez is a hard worker? Oh, please. His repeated reliance on performance-enhancing drugs shatters that myth. But this is the kind of nonsense we will hear, again and again, when Rodriguez takes over this team’s air space next spring.

This comes after a defense of the completely indefensible penalty given to A-Rod, natch. Being “insufferable” is apparently suffucient cause for imposing a punishment of more than three times what the collective bargaining agreement properly calls for.

Anyway, if you hate the use of PEDs in sports that’s your privilege, but the idea that because ARod took PEDs he’s therefore not a hard worker is absolutely absurd. Nobody becomes a 4.0 WAR player at age 35 by sitting on the couch eating Ho-Hos. This fallacy, though, I think is why so many sportswriters are completely freaked out by steroids in ways they aren’t freaked out by other forms of cheating (or, in the case of baseball players who used PEDs before the testing and punishment regime was collectively bargained, “cheating.”) They seem to believe that you can just take a pill or a shot and are magically transformed into a far better athlete. But that’s not how it works, at all. Indeed, perhaps the most important reason PEDs enhance performance is that they allow athletes to heal more quickly and hence train harder. They might enhance bang for the workout buck as well, but at the top level they’re not going to do anything for you if you’re not working extremely hard. The idea that one of the greatest athletes to play any American professional sport is a lazy bum because he took PEDs is silly and insulting.

If Kepner thinks that PED users are lazy, I would invite him to try to ride three legs of the Tour de France in successive days and then phone up Lance Armstrong and tell him he’s not a hard worker.

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