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Should the records of baseball players who used steroids count?

As the baseball season winds down, the debate over steroid use continues to heat up.

In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa broke baseball's single-season home-run record. In 2001, Barry Bonds set the current record of 73 home runs in a season.

All three men have been accused of using steroids or other drugs to enhance performance, and thus many have argued that their records should be removed from the books.

But there are several problems with this approach. First, baseball did not even have a rule against steroid use until the 2002 season, after each had set his respective record.

Second, even if these three players did use drugs, they weren't alone. If baseball starts erasing statistics, where should it stop? What about non-record-breaking players who used drugs to run faster or steal more bases? And who knows how long ago players began using performance-enhancing drugs—perhaps older records are tainted as well.

The National Football League faced a similar problem during the 1980s, when steroid use was thought to be rampant. In 1990, the league banned steroids and established stringent testing and penalties for use. But the NFL has never gone back and attempted to erase the records of players who used steroids prior to the ban. Major League Baseball should do the same.

The cry to "erase the records" is an impractical attempt to whitewash the past, to re-create what really happened. Ultimately, baseball fans and writers—not officials—will make the decision as to which records are important and which players should be honored and respected.

—Peter Bernstein
Reporter, Chicago Sports Review

Records set by baseball players who used steroids should be taken off the books, because the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is cheating.

Players who use anabolic steroids without a legitimate prescription are breaking the law and should not be allowed to play, much less keep their accomplishments on the record books.

Records are sacred to the sport of baseball. For decades, many records were held by players like Babe Ruth and Roger Maris, who achieved their success naturally. It is not fair to include those who have relied on illegal drugs to break records on the same page with players who did it the right way.

The home-run records set by Ruth and Maris held up for 34 and 37 years, respectively. But in a four-year period beginning in 1998, the home-run record was broken six times by Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds—all of whom have been accused of steroid use. It is also clear that steroid use was prevalent in baseball during those years. It is just not fair to consider their records equal to what Ruth and Maris achieved.

Allowing the records of players who use steroids to stand sends a dangerous message to young people. Teenage athletes look up to professional players as role models. My son, Taylor, died at age 17 from using steroids. Taylor was a varsity baseball player at Plano West Senior High School in Texas. He looked up to star players and was convinced that he needed to take steroids in order to play like his idols.

Let's keep baseball's records meaningful by disqualifying the records of those found guilty of steroid use.

—Donald M. Hooton
Taylor Hooton Foundation