by Josh Spence

For some time steroids have been a popular topic in the media and among those who talk baseball.  Over the last several years and even into the start of the 2005 MLB season, the steroid epidemic has been the biggest story.  Who, why, and will it ruin their celebrity image and hall of fame career?  Recently the talk has somewhat subsided.  Major League Baseball installed a new "tougher" substance abuse policy.  In addition, Barry Bonds, one who was constantly hounded with steroid allegations, is out nursing an injury.  Jason Giambi, another who has been in the headlines for steroid use, has silenced critics with an incredible month of July.  Along with other circumstantial factors, the new steroid policy had done exactly what the MLB hoped it would.  Smooth-over the steroid issue, and clean up the game.  With several players suspended in the first few weeks of the new policy the plan seemed to be working.  However, they had yet to nail a "big name" player, until now.

Rafael Palmeiro recently cemented his legacy has one of baseball's greats and guaranteed himself a spot in the Hall of Fame. Or did he?  By collecting more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs in his career, Palmeiro joined the ranks of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murphy as the only players to do so.  It's a shame that he will probably be remembered for something else.  On August 1st, 2005 Rafael Palmeiro earned a new title that he will carry for the rest of his life, "first big name to test positive." 

Already the questions have begun: should he be allowed in the hall, should his records count?  To make it worse, Palmeiro was among a group that spoke to a congressional committee inquiring about steroids in March.  In his interview Rafael emphatically denied ever using steroids.  Even as recently as July 7th, Palmeiro was part of a roundtable discussion to rid sports of steroids, along with officials from the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.

One of the happiest people in the country has to be Jose Canseco.  In his tell all book "Juiced", Canseco claims Palmeiro was a steroid user.  Canseco even admitted to injecting Palmeiro with steroids when they were both members of the Texas Rangers.  Do the recent suspension give more credibility to his comments?  The image that Rafael Palmeiro spent years constructing was likely destroyed by his recent suspension.  A man who once appeared to be headed for the Hall of Fame will now be known as a cheater.  Although Palmeiro denies intentional steroid use, it will be hard to shake the image that will follow him.  To athletes at every level: steroids are illegal, they are dangerous, and above that, using them is cheating.  Nobody likes a cheater: learn the lesson, or become the next story.  Oh, and about the steroid talk, it's back.

Josh Spence