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Our opinion: Fitting the crime

Published 10:45am Thursday, July 25, 2013

It’s good major sports leagues have taken steps to punish athletes who violate substance abuse policies. Performance-enhancing drugs create an unfair advantage for players more willing to harm their bodies over the long term for the sake of sports success.

However, many of the cheaters get a suspension of a few games and that’s it. Outside of the loss of a few contests, they still retain the muscle-gaining benefits of the drugs they took.

That’s why it was encouraging to see Major League Baseball slap Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun with a suspension for the rest of the 2013 season without pay. That’s 65 games and about $3.25 million. Braun had been linked to a Florida lab that provided performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players. Other players are going to be punished, too, because an ex-employee of the lab outed a list of players who did deals with the lab.

We believe athletes who cheat should get a second chance but not a third or fourth. But we also feel fans believe their first punishments all too often have been too light. Let’s hope all sports leagues trend toward raising the cost of cheating to one full year out of the sport.

That won’t make the problem go away completely, but it ought to send a stern message and perhaps reduce the number of cheaters.

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