Is it right …

LaShawn Encarnacion

Is it right … that pro athletes can take performing enhancing drugs to compete?

To use drugs such as steroids, human growth hormones (HGH) and numerous types of pain killers to cash in on tens-of-millions of dollars for performances in their sports and endorsements from organizations and charities?

Lance Armstrong, who in 1999 tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO), made hundreds-of-millions of dollars in endorsements through his Live-Strong foundation and major sponsorships through companies like Nike and Gatorade.

Pro sports is a competition, with few spots for so many applicants and the hunger to get to the pro level runs through the minds of every potential amateur athlete.

Athletes who are talented enough do whatever it takes to separate themselves from the rest of the pack —- so they look for extra “help.”

This can include different training methods or traveling to doctors overseas for treatments during their off seasons. Yet, they can still look at their peers who are breaking record numbers and question if using PEDs is worth it.

Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa’s 1998 home run record chase led to a number of athletes re-evaluating their games.

The years went on, players were dramatically getting bigger in size and began putting up similar monster baseball hitting and home run numbers.

Players such as Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez prove to have raked in tens-of-millions of dollars based on their performances while using PEDs.

We as fans cheer for these athletes during their performances. I am guilty too, for I was glued to my TV set watching that 1998 home run record chase. When the news surfaced that both McGuire and Sosa were using PEDs during the 1998 season, I felt betrayed, used, as often they had abused those PEDs. They’d abused my heart the same way, with no regard for the consequences.

Kids look up to these star athletes every day as role models. But retired NBA star Charles Barkley is best known for saying, “Athletes are not role models. Parents should be role models.”

With athletes as role models, the use of PEDs in sports is now in the spotlight more than ever.

There are harsh punishments for those who test positive in all sports. In baseball, 50-game suspensions to first time offenders. Padres Yasmani Grandal who tested positive for testosterone use is just one sitting for 50-games to start the 2013 season.

Yet athletes still use and still are playing in their respective sports all while making making their cash and using that money to find ways to beat the PED tests to continue playing and competing on the highest level.

Athletes can make mistakes but rewarding those mistakes is the problem that PEDs has created.

It is leaving a black mark in the world of sports. Since 1998, Major League Baseball has dubbed it the “The Steroid Era.”

The use of PEDs in sports is out of control. While the elected officials do what they can to control, the players find ways to beat the current tests and the Players Association protects the players’ contracts of the players who are using PEDs.

All the while kids with dreams of becoming superstar athletes, to “Be Like Mike” are all following the example those athletes set and finding a way to use PEDs to accomplish those goals.