Hispanics Singled Out in MLB Suspension? Or Steroids As Detour?

Posted: Apr 21 2014

13 out of the 14 MLB players suspended over performance enhancing substances over the past week are Hispanic. Too many to mark a coincidence?

In fact it’s not.

27% of major league baseball players are Hispanic according to 2011 numbers (the percentage of Hispanics in minor leagues are even larger). Ok – but that still leaves 73% non Hispanics. Why the large percentage of Hispanic suspensions now?   Quite frankly these past week’s suspensions are nothing new. Last year numerous Hispanics were also suspended, some for multiple performance enhancing drug infractions.* So these suspensions have regularly been snaring Hispanics for years. In 2005 the performance enhancing drugs issue was on the radar and even showed up in articles in the NY Times and the San Francisco Chronicle the first year MLB announced results for performance enhancing substances. This year’s suspensions appear to be getting more news coverage thanks to A-Rod.

So let’s talk about some of the potential reasons why Hispanics and steroids mix.

You are 18, and Living in Latin America
Take a look at it from the point of view of an 18 year old player born in Latin America…

You’ve been raised in Latin America, in a barrio in a third world country – live in a small house – packed with all your siblings. Baseball is the golden ticket out. It’s family security, it’s millions of dollars – fans and a lifetime of security.   So what does it take to get there? In some cases players decide – steroids. 

Combine that with communication issues (Spanish) as well as an easy availability of medicine/steroids/drugs in Latin America. And for some players - it's a decision that's all too common - as we've seen from all the Hispanic suspensions.

The Punishment?
The punishment is not much. So you get caught – you get a warning. You get caught again – you sit out 50 games. Do it again? Okay – you sit out 100 games. Then after that if you don’t get the message and stop performance enhancing drug use– then maybe you go back to your home country with the millions you’ve been able to earn so far.

Is that really punishment?

What’s it going to take. The Olympics has it right – they strip medal winners of their medals, athletes face potential jail time, and athletes caught doping can face a ban of up to 4 future Olympic games (that’s 16 years – by then you’re old).  Baseball? Oh, it’s a small slap on the wrist.

Until the risk is not worth the reward we are going to keep seeing baseball players – both Hispanic and non-Hispanics getting slapped with these fairly minor suspensions from using performance enhancing drugs. It’s time for MLB to step up. 

No one wants to see their sports figures on performance enhancing substances.  Nobody.

 

 

*2012 – Minor Leagues
At the start of last year – six players – all Hispanic suspended for 50 games.
Last March 2012, five players were suspended – all Hispanic. 
A list of players suspended on drug issues more than once– 9 Latinos as of last year.

-Zee Diaz

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