PED use in NBA hints at corruption

Recently, Hedo Turkoglu of the Orlando Magic has become one of the handful of players in the last five years to test positive for steroids in the NBA. Although this group is an extreme minority in the NBA, it may be a misleading amount, underlined by a possibly larger scale of performance enhancing drug (PEDs) use in the NBA.

The funny thing is that Hedo Turkoglu is not even that good. He’s only averaging 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game on one of the worst teams in the NBA league. So while he is off serving his joke of a twenty game suspension, it is needless to say that he won’t be missed much by his team. His explanation was simply that his doctor in Turkey prescribed him some drugs while he was recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. And he is indeed sticking to this point.

But what I cannot get past is the fact that he is a professional athlete, who undergoes routine tests for PEDs, so why would he not ask his doctor what he was taking, knowing full well that he would be tested for drugs? How can he go confident into tests, knowing that he has recently taken drugs about which he has no clue?

Plus what kind of person takes drugs from doctors without at least googling what they are all about, at least to see the side effects and be cautious? You would think that a professional athlete, who must perform at such a high level day in and day out, would be extremely conscious of their diet and what goes into their body to maximize their health and performance. I’m not buying this excuse whatsoever, especially after just finding out about how it was so easy for Lance Armstrong to lie to the world and get away with this drug use.

So this makes me wonder, if Hedo Turkoglu, a player who hasn’t been relevant in years is taking steroids, and is still less than stellar, then what other NBA players could be using steroids? The NBA has one of the softest drug testing policies in all of major sports. It is the laughing stock of the sports testing world, with multiple books written on how to get past the drug testing. This soft testing policy is mainly due to the NBA players’ union fighting any rules that might instill a stricter testing policy, presumably so that players can take PED’s and get away with it.

And it is genius, because when we don’t hear about many players being caught juicing, we just assume that the sport is clean and has some shred of credibility. Because really why would you think that NBA players would use steroids? This is what most fans think. With the attribute of height not being controlled by anything but genetic makeup, it seems that there isn’t much that could be gained from taking steroids.

But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense for players to juice in the NBA. This game of “finesse” is actually quite physical, especially when trying to back down an opposing player on the low post. So obviously strength would be a possible temptation. Additionally, the ability to jump higher and maintain peak play and endurance also seem enticing. When it comes down to it, these players are just as competitive as any other sport. Just because we don’t see them smashing helmets in acts of brute force, doesn’t mean that they are not trying to gain a competitive edge.

I don’t know if the owners and commissioner know about this, but even if they did they might ignore it because basketball is raking in the dough as it’s experiencing some of its greatest popularity ratings in league history. So what is supposed to happen when the players are fighting a stricter testing policy, and the owners and commissioner are trying to put the most entertaining spectacle on the floor for the fans? Does the integrity of the NBA even matter at all? It all comes down to money. Think about it; Hedo Turkoglu only received a twenty game suspension for testing positive. So what would twenty games mean to a player if it means that they would gain vast amounts of money over the long run?

With a lot of these fringe players on the bubble of being cut by their teams, or veterans trying to lengthen their careers, or players trying to make up for the sheer athletic ability that their competitors have, the temptations of steroids can be great. And as long as there is money and a livelihood on the line, players will always be tempted to cheat, even if it goes against their morals, because the benefits are just too great compared to the costs.

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