This week saw the Major League Baseball (MLB) doping scandal heat up, with word that more than 20 players (including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun) could soon face 100-game suspensions for allegedly using banned substances and then lying to MLB investigators about the same. Though the league has to enforce the rules as they stand or risk losing credibility, you've got to wonder if keeping the ban on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) is really worth the trouble. Given the lucrative salaries and endorsement deals that are at stake, players are always going to be seeking every competitive advantage they possibly can. So the usage of PEDs in baseball, which is inherently difficult to police, isn't going to end. It's just going to escalate further into a competition that rewards those who are savviest about beating drug tests.
Are PEDs an unnatural advantage? Sure. But so are many of the extreme training methods and nutritional regimens that are all now a regular part of almost all professional sports, including baseball, thanks to advances in human physiology and sports training. If PEDs were permitted, MLB could at least take the significant money it would save on expensive detection schemes, investigations and mediation (players' unions don't tend to take kindly to 100-game suspensions) and use it instead to educate players about the health dangers of PEDs and the doses at which they are safest. It'd cut out a healthy slice of hypocrisy and do more to level the playing field (level the diamond?) than substance bans every will.\