Terry Newton might soon become a household name, but not in the way he expected. This year, Newton, an English rugby player, became the first athlete to be banned for failing an HGH test. However, Newton’s story is not the typical doping violation seen in sports today. Newton was caught because the United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency acted on some interesting information that Newton was using HGH. Newton later testified that he believes close to 100 players were using HGH in the sport. The testers showed up unannounced last November, about 18 hours after Newton took a dose of HGH. This UK agency has a toll-free number for anyone to call with anonymous tips.
Terry Newton is so important because he symbolizes the next wave in regulation of doping in sports. Recently, baseball took a much-needed step in the growth of the sport by announcing that it will test all minor leaguers for human growth hormone. These are players who are not part of the organizational 40-man rosters and thus do not have the protection of the Major League Baseball Players Association. This is a much-needed step for baseball, which has been inundated over the past decade with performance enhancing drugs that have clouded not only milestones, but also player’s careers. However, it is easy to imagine that some critics feel that this movement is long overdue and the delay will also cloud someone else’s reputation, Bud Selig. Nevertheless, there will be some staunch Selig supporters who believe that this further adds to his passion and initiative to fight PED’s during his tenure.
What is suspect about baseball’s plan to sniff out HGH users is the penalty for using the drug. As opposed to the Super League of English rugby, where users are banned for two years and stripped of their contract, baseball’s penalty for using HGH is a 50-game suspension. This penalty is weak and does not command any type of respect from the players. It seems like an empty threat to have such an inconsequential and insufficient penalty, especially when players weigh that consequence against the odds of a test that discovers a user in only a two-week time span.
Nevertheless, this movement is a step in the right direction, in a sport that has thrived off of the juiced long ball and fastball. A sport such as baseball with such history that an encyclopedia would be inadequate to cover its past needs integrity, honesty and sportsmanship. At the very least, Selig has created a hurdle in front of potential cheaters and has started the path towards cleaning up the bases of America’s greatest pastime.