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In the Crossfire

Steroids: a physical edge or health detriment?

The controversy over steroids in Major League Baseball took center stage in a Senate hearing room on Tuesday. Should the league regulate the use of the performance-enhancing drugs? Sports radio talk show host Steak Shapiro steps into the "Crossfire" with hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala over a former MVP player's announcement that he used steroids. If an actress can enhance her physical appearance to win a role, why shouldn't an athlete be allowed an edge as well?

CARLSON: Congress is taking a swing at steroids, deciding whether it should regulate the muscle-building drug in Major League Baseball. This follows the recent disclosure by former National League Most Valuable Player Ken Caminiti that he used steroids. Major League Baseball doesn't test for the drugs.

So what is the harm in adding power to a home run swing? Weighing in tonight, one of our favorite guests, sports radio talk show host Steak Shapiro. He joins us from Atlanta.

Now Steak, I want to read you a quote from the just-mentioned, the great Ken Caminiti. Here it is. He says, about steroids: "Look at all the money in the game. You have a chance to set your family up, to get your daughter into a better school, so I can't say don't do it, not when the guy next to you is as big as a house, and he's going to take your job and make the money."

I mean, isn't it fair for ball players, whose very livelihood depends on their physical performance, to enhance that performance with dope?

SHAPIRO: Well, I mean, it's not OK in any other sport in the entire world. Why would it be OK in Major League Baseball?

You're also talking about a controlled substance. You're also talking about an illegal substance.

So I don't know, is it OK to have heroin in the locker room as well? I mean, steroids are illegal. You smuggle them in the country. They're also tainting the game of baseball, tainting the records.

But other than that, Tucker -- yes, I agrees with you, no big deal having steroids around.

BEGALA: In fact, Steak, not only do they damage the sport, but they damage the users. And it's a difficult thing for young men like ball players to look forward in the future, but this is what steroids do to them. And particularly, kids who are watching this ought to learn this: heart and liver damage, endocrine system imbalance, elevated cholesterol, strokes, aggressive behavior, increased injuries, dysfunctions of the genitalia, and I think they make them lose your hair, too, Steak. I'm not sure about that last one.

No, but this is serious business. And we've got a bunch of young men who are using them because, I think, of the profit that this Ken Caminiti said they can make by hitting the ball farther.

SHAPIRO: Well, I don't blame Ken Caminiti. If you're sitting in AAA and you got a wife and three kids, and the guy in front of you is hitting 25 home runs and playing second base, you know, you're looking up and saying hey, you know, how am I going to support my family? Where am I going to get the big contract?

The point is, Major League Baseball and the players union, one of the strongest unions in the world maybe, they don't want to be tested for anything. They talk about privacy issues.

We're talking about illegal substances. We're talking about guys that are so obviously on the juice in baseball. You know, when Babe Ruth and Roger Maris were breaking records, they didn't have juice baseball, they didn't have parks that were moved in in terms of the fences, and they didn't have guys on steroids.

And now we're breaking home run records every few years.

Second baseman, as I mentioned, are hitting 30 homers because it's good for the game when guys are hitting homers. But the reality is, this is an illegal drug, an illegal substance, and a dangerous one. And it's being smuggled in, but nobody wants to blow the whistle on it. It's time to get ...

CARLSON: Let me suggest a reason, Steak, and that's because it's made the game better. Let me put it -- let me use this example, if an actress gets breast augmentation or injects poison into her face in the form of Botox to make herself more attractive in order to make money in front of the camera. People don't say, "Well that's appalling that would you would hurt your body." They understand that it gives that person an advantage, and she makes money.

I mean, I don't understand the difference.

SHAPIRO: Tucker, you're not going to get arrested for saline, and you're not going to get arrested for being a plastic surgeon.

Steroids are illegal. Steroids are illegal in the Olympics. They're not legal in any other sport.

Baseball is turning their back on it. I mean, again, you can't compare what's enhancing, or what augmentation is, to illegal substances. I mean, it's giving players who use it an unfair advantage. And the ones who don't use it are, you know, are at a strong disadvantage, and health-wise, it's not safe.

And we're talking about an illegal -- you know if, for instance, Ken Caminiti is found with a bag full of steroids, technically, you know, he's in possession of a controlled substance. How is that good for the game of baseball?




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