E Pluribus Mores

Thank Goodness for the Mitchell Report

In celebrity fashion on November 26, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Thank goodness for the Mitchell report. The era of performance enhancing drugs in baseball is finally over. For a while it seemed that a shadow had been cast over every super-star athlete in every major sport–except, of course, cycling and basketball. Just this week the New York Times reported that Viagra was being tested as a potential performance enhancer. At the time I was thinking, “How could we ever develop a test for that?” I was just beginning to have faith again in professional sports, given that the ever-vigilant anti-doping forces had effective tests for all the other major performance enhancing drugs (except human growth hormone, which according to “A History of Doping” from the World Anti-doping Agency web site has been available since the mid 1980’s, and for which existing blood tests have never caught a single Olympic athlete (cf. Lieu, et al. “Systematic Review: The effects of Growth Hormone on Athletic Performance” in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2008) p. 747). Would we now have to test every member of a baseball team that has ever hit a home run? In the past we were taken in by half-baked explanations of enhanced athlete performance such as the “rabbit ball, the rabbit cycle, or the air-rabbit tenny.” But now that the Mitchell report’s recommendations have been adopted, we no longer have to worry. Nor is there any need to keep investigating the super-human performance of stars from the bygone era of the 1990’s–and particularly not cycling or basketball. And it goes without saying that in a well-respected column such as my own, which has at last count a readership of one and is protected from litigation by the laws governing parody, I am not going to engage in speculation or innuendo.

But it does raise the question, how far does the scandal go? If this could happen in baseball–a game that rigorously tested players at least once each pre-season and with only minimal notice during the season–how long will it be before the scandals of baseball infect the world of celebrity culture–an industry with no testing policy whatsoever! In fact, there may be some evidence that the great celebrities of today have already been tainted by performance enhancing techniques. We need only compare the celebrities of the past with those of today (see below) to uncover some disturbing trends. Could it be that the celebrities of today owe their success to something other than their natural-born talents? And this goes beyond a simple, “how could they be that good looking?” to “is that really humanly possible?” As important as baseball records are–and given that the senate held hearings on the matter they must be important–celebrities of today invade every facet of our modern life, from magazine advertising, movies, fashion–even everyday household products! Perhaps it is time to consider appointing a commissioner of culture, or risk repeating the mistakes that have plagued baseball and other sports that are not cycling or basketball.

Celebrities of the Past


Celebrities of the Present


Parts of this column originally appeared in issue 13 of the Family Night Times


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