PEDs and keeping yourself in the game
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello was the last person you’d think would test positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
The 12-year veteran of pro ball isn’t beefed up nor does he hit a baseball 400 feet. Of all the people in the Jays’ clubhouse, not once did you think Colabello would be the one to set off the PED Geiger counter for Major League Baseball.
Think about it. He’s six-footfour-inches tall and weighs just 210 pounds. That doesn’t exactly inspire images of early 2000s Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds using their cartoon biceps to crush baseballs into different time zones.
Those guys used steroids. They fit the mold. At times it appeared McGwire was one giant arm muscle waiting to tear a hole in the universe with the bat slash he called a swing.
Surely Jays teammates Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson or Edwin Encarnacion would fail a test before Chris Colabello.
Heck, even Justin Smoak was more a candidate than his first base platoon partner.
Despite all the signs that pointed to the contrary, Colabello was suspended 80 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Colabello insists he doesn’t know how dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, an anabolic steroid sold under the name Turinabol, got into his system.
If Colabello doesn’t know how he took the drug — which is kind of baloney, he knows — maybe we can look at why or rather, the possible why.
When you reach the top of your sport, training becomes about staying there. It becomes putting you in the best possible position to remain a professional athlete at the highest level.
The journey beforehand is about getting there; it’s about reaching the top. Now, it becomes remaining, in this case, a big leaguer.
Steroids and sports are intricately linked whether we like it or not. As long as steroids have been around, athletes have been trying to skirt the rules in order to gain a competitive advantage.
And, there is no sport out there that has such a rocky history with PEDs than baseball.
The good ones figure out how to do it and not get caught. The bad ones, like Ryan Braun and Colabello, get caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
Since 2005, 43 major leaguers have been suspended for using. Another 60 minor leaguers have been suspended for the same reason.
If you look at each player, outside of the Alex Rodriquez and Ryan Braun types, they all have similar stories.
Take the major leaguers for examples. They’re players on the edge of staying or going. Guys who could just as well be taking the long bus rides in AAA ball as they are riding charter planes in the MLB.
They feel they need the extra jump to stay relevant. In professional baseball, there is always someone nipping at your heels.
In a way, baseball’s dog-eat-dog system is a key producer of the situation they find themselves in.
Certain athletes are going to take a shortcut if it means they get to stay on top. They’ve shown that. There’s no excusing Colabello for what he did. If he used, he deserves the suspension. Can you blame him though? He’s just a product of the system.