Just a decade ago, the MLBPA fought tooth-and-nail against any form of testing for performance enhancing drugs, even non-invasive urine testing. Today profootballtalk has confirmed that the NFLPA, without rancor or even any real public debate, has agreed to submit its membership to random testing of the most invasive type — blood extraction. We’ve come so far, so fast. (I find it to be an incredible concession by the NFLPA. Your author is a certified trypanophobic — I would not submit myself to random blood testing under any circumstances).
Most of the “credit” for this radical change in the debate goes to the United States Congress. (I use the air quotes around the word credit because I am a PED Debate skeptic. I think there is a lot of McCarthyism, and lack of fundamental distinction, at play here. HGH, for instance, is not a “steroid” of any sort and has never been proven to have any “performance enhancing” qualities of any kind, yet most of the public sees no distinction between the terms). It was the United States Congress that changed the PED debate over night through the use of its subpoena power. The Congress dragged the leaders of baseball and its union before themselves and the cable cameras, wrapped each of them soundly on the wrists, and in the process shamed each of them into adopting a radical change of public position. No longer could the owners look the other way at baseball’s gorillas, no longer could the players resist the measures needed to render those gorillas extinct.
The history of the PED debate is so dramatic that it puts the lie to the old shibboleth “you cannot legislate morality”. You sure as hell can. Laws and lawmakers have always had the power to establish public morals. Change a law, and you can change public attitude over night. You don’t think so? Transport a cigarette smoker from the 1950s to today and ask him if he can discern any difference in public attitudes toward smoking. He would think you transported him to a different planet, and it all has to do with public smoking laws and legislative action to demonize second hand smoke.