In MLB players are suspended for just being associated with PED’s, without testing positive while in the NFL over a dozen players have been suspended for violating the league’s PED policy so far this year; before the regular season even kicks off. Which league has the bigger problem with performance enhancing drugs?
Major League Baseball led a tireless investigation of the now defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami which resulted in 13 players being suspended for their ties to the clinic. Yankees 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez notoriously received a suspension through the end of the 2014 season, for which he is appealing and still playing. Seven other players received 50-game suspensions the same day Rodriguez was suspended. Baseball has been vigilant in outing the suspected and actual PED users in their sport since 2004 when they announced their new drug policy. In 2005 the league agreed to even tougher penalties for positive tests to include 50-game suspensions for first offenses, 100-game suspensions for a second, and a lifetime ban for a third.
Since the Super Bowl, 20 NFL players have been suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Washington Redskins alone have three players on their roster who will serve suspensions. Von Miller of the Broncos is serving his suspension for violating the substance abuse policy a second time and has the full support of quarterback Peyton Manning. Just this week Houston Texans signed their ILB Brian Cushing to a six-year extension worth $55.643 million, including $21 million guaranteed. Cushing was suspended 4 games in 2011 for violating the league’s PED policy.
Usually in baseball, the player will take the PED’s to try to live up to his big money contract, while in the NFL you can be rewarded with a big money contract after it’s discovered that you take PED’s. The leagues couldn’t be further apart on the subject both with fans’ perspectives and the way the league offices handle the discipline. Football fans could care less about PED use. No one is called a cheater or a fraud in the NFL for taking PED’s. In comparison, Alex Rodriguez will never be thought of as a “clean” baseball player and he’s never actually failed a drug test.
By all accounts the NFL has by far the bigger problem with PED’s. More positive tests, more suspended players, and less people to care about it. In the NFL you’re more likely to end up in Roger Goodell’s doghouse if you make a tackle than if you’ve taken performance enhancing drugs. On the other hand, Bud Selig has made it his personal crusade to rid the league of PED users. Maybe the problem is smaller in baseball because the penalties are higher. Granted, the number of players suspended in baseball increase if you add in those with minor-league playing time too but since there’s nothing comparable to football, I left those out. Maybe because both the players and fans cherish the individual records a lot more in baseball. Maybe we just expect football players to keep getting bigger, stronger, and faster every year no matter how they are getting it done.