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Pluto: Finally, sports admits it has a drug problem

Commmentator Terry Pluto says he isn't buying the excuses of players like Ryan Braun and Josh Gordon caught by drug tests
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ



Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has been suspended for the rest of the 2013 season without pay, after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs.
Courtesy of Creative Commons
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Some pro athletes are facing a harsh reality this week, as Major League Baseball and the NFL handed down lengthy suspensions for drug use.... And it’s making WKSU commentator Terry Pluto grumpy. But, he says, it's not so much the suspensions themselves that bother him, it's what he describes has become the new normal that sports is finally recognizing publicly. 

LISTEN: Terry Pluto on drug use in sports

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Fans now need a pharmaceutical degree
Commentator Terry Pluto says following sports was a lot easier when he was a kid. “I just worried about batting averages and home runs. … I didn’t need a pharmaceutical degree to follow sports.”

Braun, Peralta and others
No more. The National League’s 2011 MVP, Ryan Braun, has been suspended and fined for the rest of the season after his name was one of 20 linked to a clinic in Miami accused of peddling human growth hormone, steroids and “a total laundry list” of performance enhancers. Another of those names is former Indian and now Detroit Tiger shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

“Actually, that could alter the pennant race because they (Detroit) don’t really have some good backup infielders if he were to be suspended for the rest of the year,” Pluto notes.

It’s not just the use of performance enhancers that bothers Pluto. Braun, he notes, failed a drug test before, though he denied steroid-use and was exonerated.

This time, Pluto says, “I gagged” when he heard Braun’s statement.

Too many excuses
“’Well, if I offended anyone…’ or ‘This has been very hard on my family…’ What, someone put a gun to your head and intravenously injected these steroids into you so you could be MVP of 2011?”

Braun and others have their defenders. And Pluto says some of them raise Babe Ruth – whose substance of abuse was alcohol. But Pluto says that was certainly no performance enhancer. “What they were trying to do is sober up Babe so he could play.”

Likewise with the cocaine Pluto says many players were abusing when he first started covering baseball in the 1970s.

“Nobody got physically stronger doing a whole lot of cocaine.” 

Browns' Josh Gordon and codeine 
And baseball isn’t the only sport with a drug problem. The Browns Josh Gordon flunked a drug test. His explanations have included a claim that he had strep throat and took codeine that he didn’t realize would be a problem.

Pluto says that runs counter to the reality of major sports.

“You have a sniffle, you have a phone number to call. They will have will have three doctors looking at your nose in two hours. … and giving you drugs that will pass any NFL, NBA drug test.”

Bigger name players going down
Pluto says the major sports appear to be taking testing and discipline more seriously.

“A lot of the guys who were busted early were no name players. (But) you just sat down the MVP from 2011 for the National League, Ryan Braun. That should get people’s attention.”

Meanwhile, Pluto says he’ll continue to regard two players as single-season and lifetime homerun champs – untainted by performance enhancers.

“It’s still Hank Aaron and it’s still Roger Maris. It’s not Barry Bonds and it’s not Mark McGuire.” 

Listen: Pluto on questions facing Browns as training camp opens
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