The Hammer has come down on the player nicknamed “The Hebrew Hammer.”
The fall of a celebrity superstar athlete can occur in an instant. Look at the case of Lance Armstrong, once cycling’s darling, and now the poster athlete for illegal doping. The newest name to be tarnished by a doping scandal is Major League Baseball’s Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers slugger who was one of the sport’s shining stars, with a 2011 MVP title, a two-time All-American title at the University of Miami, and the winner of the Silver Slugger Award. He was known for his speed, strength, and for being a “five tool player.” Now, every accolade and accomplishment is being called into question after his July 22 65-game suspension following a scandal involving doping allegations tied to a now defunct Miami anti-aging clinic known as Biogenesis, and Braun’s subsequent lying about taking any performance enhancers. Now, only time will tell what the future holds for the disgraced player, and how many other players the scandal will touch.
In addition to Braun, who denied for the better part of two years that he used performance enhancers and actively fought against a 2011 drug test that showed elevated testosterone levels, there are other big name MLB stars linked to Biogenesis of America and the use of performance enhancers. Perhaps the biggest is the New York Yankee’s Alex Rodriguez, one of baseball’s most well-known players, along with Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, and a whole roster of players whose names have not been released. Rodriguez, referred to by his fans as A-Rod, may be in more hot water than Braun, as he stands accused of violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy and tampering with evidence. In all, about 20 players are being investigated for their alleged use of performance enhancers and ties to the Biogenesis clinic, which allegedly distributed HGH, IGF-1, Testosterone, Growth Hormone Releasing Peptides, amino acids, and the naturally occurring steroid precursor DHEA to athletes for the sole purpose of helping them enhance their performances.
Although the Biogenesis clinic is now closed, and the MLB has handed out one suspension and is in the process of completing the other investigations, the story is far from over. Recent news reports about Major League Baseball have focused on the sport’s efforts to clean house in regards to players’ doping practices. The League started testing for HGH in 2012 and had plans to expand their testing program this year with more in-season testing. The investigation into Biogenesis and the players who are accused of being on the clinic’s client roster are a good reflection of how serious the League is about ensuring baseball is a clean sport. Players with documented conditions can use prescription drugs, but most other substances, including many legal drugs, are banned by the sport, and drug testing is becoming more strict and more evolved as the testers try to adapt tests to catch players that try to cover up their doping. HGH can be detected with a blood test, but only for about 24 hours after it has been taken, making it hard to catch. Often, athletes “stack” their drugs, or take several together to enhance the effects.
Obviously, the scandal has many in the world of baseball reeling, as a beloved player is now being labeled a liar and the looming possibility of more suspensions becomes bigger. Major League Baseball is adamant, however, that it’s all for the good of the sport, and the message they are sending is crystal clear: the League’s tolerance for liars and cheats in the sport of baseball is very low, no matter what your name or celebrity status.