Here are the most popular rationalizations:
1. “It wasn’t against the rules.”
The conspiracy of silence to this day tells you all you need to know about the hollowness of such a claim. Again, we were a decade outside of the steroid bust of Ben Johnson. Steroids were a well-known taboo. Everyone knew, including those who took them, steroids were a conscious, elaborate, covert decision to go outside the boundaries of fair competition, not to enable performance but to enhance it beyond what was naturally possible.
Pitcher Matt Herges, who said steroids made him “superhuman . . . an android, basically,” once said, “We didn’t have drug testing anyways. But it was still wrong.”
When George Mitchell conducted his white paper investigation into steroids in baseball, his investigators contacted 68 players. Only one of them was willing to talk about steroids: Dan Naulty, the former Twins and Yankees pitcher whose chilling story I profiled last year. Naulty lived the lie. His debunking of the “it wasn’t against the rules” nonsense is as thorough as anything I’ve ever heard:
“I was a full blown cheater and I knew it,” Naulty said. “You didn’t need a written rule. I was violating clear principals that were laid down within the rules. Whether they were explicitly stated that I shouldn’t use speed or testosterone didn’t need to be stated. I understood I was violating mainly implicit principals.
“I have no idea how many guys were using testosterone. But I would assume anybody that was had some sort of conviction that this was against the rules. Look, my fastball went from 87 to 96! There’s got to be some sort of violation in that. It was not by natural cause. To say it wasn’t cheating to me was . . . it’s just a fallacy. There’s just no way you could say that’s not cheating. It was a total disadvantage to play clean.”