The Great Ryan Braun Freakout or, Why Sports Should Allow Doping Already


My latest Daily Beast column is about the suspension of the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). By all accounts, this is the first of many coming suspensions, which will likely include possible future Hall-of-Famer Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.

A snippet:

The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy passed immediate judgment,pronouncing that, "In the pantheon of sports dirtbags, Ryan Braun goes down as one of the worst. He forever will be a baseball pariah." "Who is Ryan Braun? He's a cheater and a liar," testified CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel. "Braun is one of the most cravenly selfish figures in American professional sports,"seethed Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi.

From all this, you'd gather that Braun had committed an actual crime that really hurt somebody. Murder, maybe, or rape, or failing to support his children—all things which athletes are known to do. But the worst thing he did—and it is pretty bad, for sure—was attack the integrity of a urine-specimen collector back in 2011….

Why not have an actual public conversation about how and why PEDs are used? Baseball players, who show a remarkable willingness to sacrifice their bodies in pursuit of beaucoup bucks and a few lines on a plaque in Cooperstown, and team owners, who rightly see players as investments worth protecting, might come up with a drug policy that actually has a chance of working without forcing grown men to pee into cups or lie to a disbelieving public.

Openly allowing PEDs might not sit well with sportswriters, who have to blow smoke on a semi-regular basis like old Chief Noc-a-Homa used to do at Atlanta Braves games. But I suspect that poor, suffering fans who genuinely seem not to give a fungo bat about how athletes manage their incredible feats would be fine with it all.

Read the whole piece at The Daily Beast.

NEXT: Israel To Release 104 Palestinian Prisoners

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. possible future Hall-of-Famer Alex Rodriguez

    Not in this universe.

  2. I don’t follow professional sports but I can see that this is only going to become more prevalent as medical technology advances. Regenerative medicine (look at that “Spider” guy in the UFC), implants, joint and limb replacement/augmentation, shit is gonna get crazy.

  3. When everyone is super, no one will be.

    1. Funny, I’ve never seen anyone try to tar libertarians with that guy

  4. Disagree on this. It seems the majority of the players do not want to have to take designer steroids, hGH, etc just to compete with the relatively small number who cheat the current system. Were there no restrictions, players would then be forced to decide if the risks of taking these drugs outweigh having a career in the sport. Perhaps not a perfect analogy, but if your chosen profession required a once a month game of russian roulette with live rounds, would you continue in that field? What if your abilities in any other profession were far lower?

    1. “players would then be forced to decide if the risks of taking these drugs outweigh having a career in the sport.”

      Yes, they would have to choose among the options. Just like everybody else.

      1. Were there no restrictions, players would then be forced to decide if the risks of taking these drugs outweigh having a career in the sport.

        Now they are just forced to decide to dedicate their lives to the game from elementary school, risk career ending injuries (during games and practices), risk head trama if you’re in the NFL…..

        1. Which is more dangerous, being a baseball player on ‘roids or being a clean football player?

          1. There are stats that suggest being a baseball player is more dangerous…period.

            Baseball players die at a younger age than football players, which is totally counterintuitive. I think the study that found this may have failed to account for a ton of outside factors, but it still surprised me.

            1. Trying to find the study, I found one that said football:63, baseball: 64, so I might have been off.

              1. And another that covers 99% of all football players in the history of the league, with an average age of death of 68.

                But he doesnt have baseball players, so comparison is hard.

                1. Finally, here is the article I was looking for, which references a couple of different studies, some formal, some informal.

    2. Cry me a river for these poor guys forced to play a kid’s game for millions of dollars a year. Heaven forbid they might have to make some tough choices.

    3. Two leagues…juicers and non-juicers.

      1. Like anyone’s going to care about the non-juicer league

        1. You’d be surprised – there’s a lot of self-righteous people out there.

          1. And it’d give the players who don’t want to subject themselves to PEDs a place to make a living playing ball.

            I see both sides of this.

        2. “Like anyone’s going to care about the non-juicer league”

          Yet there exists a pro bodybuilding organization that doesn’t allow juicers to compete and it seems to have an audience.

          1. True. But bodybuilders don’t have 50 million dollar contracts. The question would be if it could operate at it’s current financial level.

    4. Nick Gillespie is a traitor to liberty.

    5. Yes, that’s the issue that glib bloggers like this don’t realize. There’s a tradeoff there as there is in any other rule of spectator sports. The same with the NFL, where much of the audience grooves to spectacular hits, but the players would like to have a safer work environment.

      The issue is clouded by the criminaliz’n of many of the performance-enhancing drugs. Say the NFL didn’t have rules against using anabolic steroids; what are they going to do when one player drops a dime on another to the feds, and are either state or federal authorities going to accept a doctor’s juicing a player to be within the ordinary course of that practitioner’s professional practice? Meanwhile the FFDCA has been amended to control use of human growth hormone (rather than its being made a controlled substance under the CSA).

  5. OT:

    Concord, New Hampshire is apply for federal monies to purchase and Armored Personnel Carrier (“Tank”) to defend against “the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire” who “are active and present daily challenges”…..=mobileart

    Goddammit, I keep fucking R. Balko around to ensure that my liberty remains unviolated and instead I get…this.

    1. Christ, dem typos. I might be having a stroke.

    2. LOL more wannabe warrior bullshit.

    3. Police organizations are barely squeaking by on their current budgets.

  6. Jose Canseco actually made a pretty good argument for steroids in his book. He talks about eating healthy and staying away from alcohol comparing his lifestyle to Jason Giambi who liked to party a lot. I’m not saying he’s right, just that it’s a decent argument. Baseball has definitely benefited from the juiced up players.

    1. That’s not a decent argument. It’s not actually an argument. Did you forget 25 words or so?

      1. Okay, here’s a decent argument. It turned a one-dimensional fringe prospect with decent speed into a major league superstar.

        1. That’s also not an argument, just a description of events. You need something like “therefore, steroids should be allowed” tacked onto the end.

          1. Careless is a douchebag and therefore, I will not reply anymore to him/her. There, ya happy?

            1. Third time’s the charm.

  7. I really don’t care one way or the other so long as congress has nothing to do with it.

  8. Perhaps not a perfect analogy, but if your chosen profession required a once a month game of russian roulette with live rounds, would you continue in that field?

    What? No, that’s a PERFECT analogy. Using these supplements is exactly like regularly engaging in an activity with a fatal risk.

    1. What’s funny is that the statement is so obviously wrong. People with a lot of property don’t shoot somebody running away with a bit of it. They won’t feel the loss that keenly, and besides, whatever is being stolen is likely insured anyway.

      1. Right. The less you have the more strongly you need to defend it. It’s ironically the same argument the left makes as to why we need a progressive tax system.

  9. I just want my Mutant League Baseball, and if it that requires players to use some unholy mix of drugs, cybernetic implants, and genetic engineering, well, is that so wrong?

  10. There is a reason the PEDs are disallowed in most majors sports: on the long run, PEDs are bad for business. It is bad for business when sponsors stay away because they do not want to be associated with PEDs. It is bad for business if TV viewers stay away because they frown upon PEDs. It is bad for business if athletes die because they took the wrong PEDs, or too many of them. It is bad for business if there are high profile law suits about the long time side effects of PEDs athletes were pressured to take (see also under NFL and concussions).

    Of course, every sports association should be free to find their own rules for PED use.

    1. Amen. MLB is living and breathing freedom.

      1. I hope that’s sarcasm

        1. Nope it isn’t. What’s you’re argument they aren’t living and breathing freedom?

    2. You’re making tons of assumptions

      In fact, I bet the opposite will happen. Just look at the popularity of MMA.

      But this won’t happen until the government gets out of the way. No sports association is free to make their own rules because we’d have congressional hearings the moment one tries to defy convention (and your thinking), just like we did already with safe steroid use.

      1. Many sports associations are mainly active in other countries. And in some such countries the government does not stage such hearings. Just look at these.

        Besides, as this is baseball: what about spitballs? Corked bats?

      2. Well, there’s the World’s Strongest Man competition, which is notorious for steroid use. They test for recreational drugs but not steroids, apparently.

  11. We need drugs to cope with this. This could be the best Diane Lane vehicle since “Six Pack” w/ Kenny Rogers

    NBC Orders Hillary Clinton Miniseries
    Diane Lane to star as former First Lady; network orders three other longform projects

    1. I’d love to see a counter documentary to that come out about a month before the election.

      1. Perhaps a bunch of citizens could unite to produce and release such a documentary?

    2. ROFL. The freaking election is more than three years away and the leftist media is already neatly segueing from Block Yomomma worship to Hillary!!! worship.

  12. The overwhelming majority of players do not want doping, and pushed for the rigorous testing regime in the last collective bargaining agreement.

  13. It’s unbelievable. For the past 3 months, I have been so depressed after losing my boyfriend to another girl. Out of complete and total desperation, I contacted Dr Paul He is powerful and I felt immediate hope and strength from hearing about the promises that i will see the result in three days time which came to past. Dr. Paul is the most powerful spell caster. His spells worked wonderful and I am now back with my boyfriend. Work with him on this email
    address if necessary and you will get the best result: email

    1. I am now back with my boyfriend

      Who is evidently now your slave w/ no free will. That’s a healthy relationship.

      Can he get Epi and me back together? I miss the hate sex.

      1. Sundays are just getting too fucking weird.

    2. I contacted Dr Paul He is powerful and I felt immediate hope and strength from hearing about the promises that i will see the result in three days time which came to past.

      You got all that from a racist newsletter?


    3. Dr. Paul actually cast a spell on you to make you believe that he is your ex-boyfriend so he could have sex with you.

    4. Poor paultn, didn’t the Charmed Ones teach you anything about using magic for selfish reasons? Everyone knows that magic, like government spending, can only be used for the Greater Good and your attempts to enlist the aid of sorcerous libertarians to satisfy your lust can only end in grief.

    5. Is that Ron, the obs-gyn? Or Rand, the ophthalmologist?

  14. Many sports rules are arbitrary.

    Ban on PEDs? Arbitrary, but its the rules.

    1. Right. The exception I have so far is cycling, in which it seems to have been so thoroughly rife with cheaters that I wonder if you can even call it cheating.

      1. Sprinting too.

        1. The ESPN documentary on the 1988 Olympic 100m finals is illuminating. 7 of the 8 guys were nailed, at some point in their career, for doping.

          Some before, some after, one during (Ben Johnson).

        2. My impression was that they had cleaned it up since then, they way that cycling might be going now. I could be wrong.

          My broader point is that if cheating is so widespread (and by implication, tolerated) that you no longer gain an advantage by cheating, it’s no longer really cheating. (And if you look at Armstrong in that context, his achievements don’t lose anything with his admissions.)

          1. Didnt one of the top sprinters just get nailed earlier this month?

              1. The latest news adds to a slew of negative headlines for track. Jamaican Olympic champion, Veronica Campbell-Brown, tested positive for a banned diuretic at a meet on the island in May.
                A month later, Asafa Powell, the former 100 world record holder, tested positive for a stimulant at Jamaica’s national championships, as did his teammate, Sherone Simpson, a three-time Olympic medalist.

                That is 4 different sprinters since May.

            1. I defer to you on this. I really know next to nothing about Olympic sports.

    2. There is also an anti-money current in all those rules too. Like the reasoning for the 1982 ban on sliding riggers in rowing, at the time they were marginally more expensive than sliding seats. So sliding seats allowed, sliding riggers banned. Poor countries won’t be able to afford PEDs, banned.

  15. I don’t see why Nick has an issue with how private industry regulates itself?

    Why do you hate the free market, Nick?

    1. Nice proggie impression.

    2. Yep, it’s freedom of association.

      1. Yeah, just try to form a pro-enhancement league and see what happens. Freedom, my ass.

        1. What do you mean?

          People are free to for a pro-enhancement league. Ryan Braun can use PEDs all he wants to, he just can’t do it and play MLB. The private club can punish him and his PED using ilk all its want to.


          1. No they are not free. See my responses below.

            There has never been an OPEN, explicitly stated, pro-steroid or pro-drug use league, only ones that look the other way.

            In fact, how can there be when you can’t even get steroids or any PEDs over the counter?

  16. More likely, we’d see the rise of different professional leagues. One for guys who want to juice and people who want to watch ‘roided-up monsters play, and a chemical enhancement-free league. Each would have its adherents, each would have an audience. The world would go on.

    1. I agree that it should be tried. Although I think it wouldn’t be as straightforward as “to each his own”. I suspect that many doping athletes want the perception that they aren’t doing it.

    2. In the ‘roid one they could allow contact and hitting not just the ball but players too.

      A variation of Aussie Rules Football only it would baseball.

      That would be sick.

      The bottom line, about the PED’s, is we can say just legalize it since it “can’t be stopped” but it’s simply unfair (nay, unethical) to others who play by the rules and want nothing to do with it.

      How is that logical, rational or fair?

      1. It wouldn’t, I guess, be fair to MLB players who didn’t want to juice. If I were a professional athlete, I would not want to use them. It would be a painful and weird time while the sport sorted itself. But I think baseball and its fans would be happier after the adjustment.

  17. I don’t give a shit either way, but I wonder why people who want PEDs allowed don’t just start their own league? I would find that experiment much more interesting than the rants about what other people should do with their businesses.

    1. Because they can’t.

      1. That’s your rebuttal?

  18. Form your own professional league Nick. Allowing PED use is stupid. Major Leaguers have the freedom to demand purity all they want to.

    Suck it sir, suck it.

  19. Your Sunday Stupid:

    It’s corporations, not killer robots
    …We’ve been slow to notice because we were worried about a technological singularity and what we got instead was a legal singularity. It wasn’t the rise of artificially intelligent machines, but of artificially intelligent legal entities.

    The corporations were created by humans. They were granted personhood by their human servants.

    They rebelled. They evolved. There are many copies. And they have a plan.

    That plan, lately, involves corporations seizing for themselves all the legal and civil rights properly belonging to their human creators. “Corporations are people, my friend,” and therefore in Citizens United, the free speech rights of corporate persons were found to outweigh the free speech rights of their human creators. Next up is the right of corporate persons to the free exercise of their religion ? with Hobby Lobby and dozens of other for-profit legal entities arguing that not only do they have such rights, but that these rights must trump any free-exercise rights of the mortal humans who are employed by these immortal persons….

    1. wow. That is so sad. They’ve created a fictional universe to be butt hurt in.

      1. therefore in Citizens United, the free speech rights of corporate persons were found to outweigh the free speech rights of their human creators.

        I’m still trying to figure out how:

        1. Allowing their anti-Hillary movie impacted the free speech of others

        2. How this jibes w/ movies like “Fahrenheit 911” obviously being legal despite being released by a corporation.

        1. If you ever figure out their logic it means you’ve gone insane.

          1. ph’nglui mglw’nafh Pelosi R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

        2. Im trying to figure out why the New York Times Corporation is okay with them.

          1. It is or it isn’t. ‘News’ protecting Obama is protected while they complain that a handful of Korperashions control the media.

        3. It’s even more illogical than that because the premise is that one person’s free speech is somehow impinged by another persons free speech.

    2. From comments:

      “…the guy who ran the now-defunct, used to ask Libertarians who spouted Rethuglican talking points and/or “Capitalism, Fuck Yeah!” jingoism “What makes you think that a Corporate dictatorship will be any better or more benevolent than a Government dictatorship?

      I can’t recall any of them actually answering his question.”


      1. Well what?

        I dont answer strawmen.

        1. I was being facetious but if anyone wanted to lob an answer over for these folks…honestly, I’ve never seen such a bunch before. Where do they rank next to, say, Democratic Underground?

          1. So many false equivalencies and assumptions where does one begin? Big government means big money which encourages corporatism. No Libertarian is advocating any sort of dictatorship, that’s just silly. Are they really saying that everyone should accept Government dictatorship because it’s the best alternative? There’s so much misinformation on the left concerning regulations. Because we advocate for free markets they say falsely that we think that businesses should be free to murder, steal, dump toxic waste (ya know all the things that corporations go in business to do /eye roll). Because less government means no government and less regulation means no regulation. I’ll tell you this. There is no point in trying to argue with them because they’re bat shit crazy and could give a shit less about the truth. The only thing they care about is being sanctimonious and superior to those ignorant fly over types, all of whom are backwards, uneducated, inbred racists.

  20. MLB is a bastion of free enterprise.

    Everybody knows that.

    1. +1 anti-trust exemption.

  21. I’m not convinced at all that allowing players to use PEDs would clear up the issue of who is using and who isn’t using. PEDs are still frowned upon by a majority of players, a majority of sponsors, and a majority of fans. A player using would still have incentive to hid it regardless of it were permissible or not.

    1. Exactly. This issue, in a way, reminds me of those arguments that legalizing prostitution would make it safer and cleaner by bringing it out into the open, ignoring the fact that prostitutes still have incentives to not make safe or clean choices.

      It’s just naive to think that external approval is the only thing standing between people and certain choices.

      1. It did make it safe everywhere in the world where it was fully legalized. Look at Brazil.

  22. The players willingly (for millions of dollars) signed contracts obligating them not to use PED’s. The commitment and the penalties are all spelled out in their contracts and their collective bargaining agreement.

    Baseball fans in particular do not want their players using PED’s because:
    1. Baseball is the one sport where normal sized players can compete – Justin Pedroia is smaller than me an won the MVP last year. DO NOT WANT to watch a league of roid monsters.

    2. Current players are constantly compared to historical ones. Pretty sure Ted Williams and Hank Aron were not juiced.

    3. The game, when played well, is about a balance of speed, strategy, averages, and power. Don’t want a game that is nothing expect waiting for a homerun off a 105 mph fastball.

    1. (part of my reply from above also applies here)

      First, why do you think only hitters get the benefits of PEDs and not pitchers? Those fastballs would be even harder to hit. That means requiring more skill than just power.

      Second, you’re making tons of assumptions.

      In fact, I bet the opposite will happen. Just look at the popularity of MMA

      But a pro-enhancement, pro-advanced-medical-science league won’t happen until the government gets out of the way. No sports association is free to make their own rules because we’d have congressional hearings the moment one tries to defy convention (and your thinking), just like we did already with safe steroid use.

      1. MMA promotions started testing before MLB.

      2. I don’t think that – that’s why I mentioned the 105 mph fastball.

    2. The testing does seem to have led to an environment of fewer home runs and runs scored now, which has brought some of that balance back to the game. Fewer runs scored also means more close games late, which are usually the most exciting games.

    3. “Baseball fans in particular do not want their players using PED’s”

      This is why I would like to see pro-PED folks put their money where their mouth is and start a league of their own design. It’s not ivory tower journalists who decide whether a certain business model should exist, it’s the market. I wonder if Gillespie even knows any baseball fans.

      1. Let’s make a bet.

        “This is why I would like to see pro-PED folks put their money where their mouth is and start a league of their own design. It’s not ivory tower journalists who decide whether a certain business model should exist, it’s the market.”


        “It’s not the market who decides, it’s the government. And they’re gonna come down on you like a ton of bricks”

        1. My question in response to this is whether gov’t would criminalize the use of PEDs whose use is now legal. In other words, does the tone of bricks come down only on what’s already controlled, or will they slap controls on other PEDs and possibly performance-enhancing devices?

          1. Yes.

  23. Force baseball to allow steroids even while the customers, the fans, don’t want them to. OK. And this is a libertarian site?


    1. How do you know that? Again, lots of assumptions about what people want when there is no choice (see my replies above).

      I bet the market would be HUGE for a PED, or heck, a bionic league, not just in baseball, but ANY sport. It’s that way with cars, why not with human sports?

      Not every current fan of traditional baseball would switch over, but you’d have a new generation of fans. The fans of MMA are younger, and were not previously into watching boxing.

      To be fair, Nick also makes a fatal assumption that pro sports would even be allowed to have PEDs. Currently it’s only legal for vet or medical prescription use, not even recreational.

      However the major leagues are also in a position of influence, so change through a nice, political process, would have to come through them. But then again, something as safe as simple steroid use gets Congress to come down on you.

      Even MMA without PEDs has trouble. There are other looser organizations, but the biggest, UFC, greatly tamed it down from its origins, I mean totally cut down in the US, (where as other countries are more liberal) … want to guess why?

      1. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) saw a tape of the first UFC events and immediately found it abhorrent. McCain himself led a campaign to ban UFC, calling it “human cockfighting,” and sending letters to the governors of all fifty US states asking them to ban the event.[32]

        Thirty-six states enacted laws that banned “no-hold-barred” fighting, including New York, which enacted the ban on the eve of UFC 12, forcing a relocation of the event to Dothan, Alabama.[33] The UFC continued to air on DirecTV PPV, though its audience remained minuscule compared to the larger cable pay-per-view platforms of the era.

        In response to the criticism, the UFC increased cooperation with state athletic commissions and redesigned its rules to remove the less palatable elements of fights while retaining the core elements of striking and grappling. UFC 12 saw the introduction of weight classes and the banning of fish-hooking. For UFC 14 gloves became mandatory, while kicks to the head of a downed opponent were banned. UFC 15 saw limitations on hair pulling, and the banning of strikes to the back of the neck and head, headbutting, small-joint manipulations, and groin strikes. With five-minute rounds introduced at UFC 21, the UFC gradually re-branded itself as a sport rather than a spectacle.[34]

        1. Led by UFC commissioner Jeff Blatnick and referee John McCarthy, the UFC continued to work with state athletic commissions.[35] Blatnick, McCarthy and matchmaker Joe Silva created a manual of policies, procedures, codes of conduct and rules to help in getting the UFC sanctioned by the athletic commissions, many of which exist to this day.[35] Blatnick and McCarthy traveled around the country, educating regulators and changing perceptions about a sport that was thought to be bloodthirsty and inhumane.[35] By April 2000, their movement had clearly made an impact.[35] California was set to become the first state in the U.S. to sign off on a set of codified rules that governed MMA.[35] Soon after, New Jersey adopted the language.[35]

          As the UFC continued to work with the athletic commissions, events took place in smaller U.S. markets, including Iowa, Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming and Alabama. SEG could not secure home-video releases for UFC 23 through UFC 29. With other mixed martial arts promotions working towards U.S. sanctioning, the International Fighting Championships (IFC) secured the first U.S. sanctioned mixed-martial-arts event, which occurred in New Jersey on September 30, 2000. Just two months later, the UFC held its first sanctioned event, UFC 28, under the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board’s “Unified Rules”.[36]

          [ … it goes on and on … ]

          1. If you saw tapes of early MMA in general, like I did, you’ll realize there’s a HUGE difference between the Vale-Tudo based, Pankration-like MMA — basically UFC 1 (where everyone could also wear anything they wanted) and UFC 138+

            In fact the name is a misnomer because it’s no longer about Ultimate Fighting at all. And none of these changes were due to the demands of the fans or the market.

            What do you think would happen with a pro-enhancement sports league?

            The drugs are already illegal outside medical and vet contexts, and I bet if states don’t outright ban it, they’ll simply get around any 1A speech issues by making non-medical PED use a serious felony

            1. Dana White and the current UFC management were smart enough to take what was basically an underground reality show and turn it into a major international sport.

              The early UFC stuff is fun to watch but was an unsustainable business model.

  24. I could care less that Braun used PEDs, but a guy who makes $9+ million per year (well, not this year) and who self-righteously crows about his innocence while needlessly throwing a truly innocent specimen collector under the bus is the very definition of a dirtbag.

    I agree with Gillespie about PEDs in sports, but I think as a Libertarian he should focus some attention as well on the fact Braun violated the terms of the contract he freely signed.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.