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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 1, 2006

Sports must tighten ban on steroid use

So the players are upset that such a bright light is being shone on the alleged use of steroids by San Francisco Giants superstar Barry Bonds and other players. Major League Baseball dealt with the problem when it banned use of the drug in 2002, they say, making this crackdown too much of a distraction from the game.

That reasoning might fly if it were only the players themselves who are at risk. But the obsessive pursuit of strength and muscular mass has long since migrated from the select world of professional sports into the amateur, collegiate and even high-school levels of athletic competition.

So the rest of us can rightfully feel encouraged by the baseball commissioner's appointment of George Mitchell, the former U.S. Senate majority leader, to head an investigation into the allegations. It's best that the public get as clear a view into the scope of the problem as possible.

It's noteworthy that in the years since the ban, it took the work of two journalists Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who authored the book "Game of Shadows" to spur the commission into action.

Left to their own devices, professional sports seem unwilling to probe this particular problem.

Steroids can elevate risks of heart disease, some cancers and emotional disturbances. They are a controlled substance for a reason, and our concern for public health demands that their use be deterred.