Why do so many Latin American players use PEDs?

Leading Off: Latinos caught in eye of baseball's storm

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 - 2:37 pm

Eight of the 13 players suspended Monday by Major League Baseball were born in the Dominican Republic.

Three came from Venezuela and one from Nicaragua.

Alex Rodriguez, the player caught in the spotlight in one of major-league baseball's darkest days, was born in New York City to Dominican parents. He moved to the Dominican Republic at 4, then to Miami.

The list of suspended players looked more like a lineup card for a World Baseball Classic game.

Unfortunately, Latinos being suspended for PED use is nothing new.

Since baseball started suspending major leaguers in 2005 for using performance-enhancing drugs, 38 of the 49 offenders were born in Latin American countries.

The figures among Latino offenders are even more staggering in the minor leagues.

But before stereotyping Latino players as cheaters, look beyond the box score.

Most players from Latin America grow up poor.

Rocks serve as balls and scraps of wood for bats. But Latin Americans play with the same dreams of making it to the big leagues as boys from small-town America.

A major-league contract for a Latin Amer- ican can do more than feed a family back home. It can help other neighborhood children. It can buy baseballs, bats and better opportunities for impoverished kids.

Once in the big leagues, many Latin Americans will do anything to stay there and succeed, to keep earning the big checks. Some will go so far as to use banned substances.

No, feeding and clothing family back home is no excuse to cheat the game – and PED offenders should be suspended – but it's a reason.

What to watch

Baseball, A's at Reds, 4:10 p.m., CSNCA: The first-place A's are only two games above .500 on the road.

Today's poll

Why do so many Latin American ballplayers use PEDs?

• For big contracts.

• To support family back home.

• Poor decisions.

• Lack of education.

Vote above or leave your comments in the comments field; or go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Monday's results

Should the 49ers sign Riley Cooper if he's available?

• Yes, everybody deserves a second chance: 57%

• No, he's not worth the trouble: 43%

Total votes: 427

Call The Bee's Victor Contreras, (916) 326-5527. Follow him on Twitter @SacBeeVictor.

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