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Ethics in Sports

by on February 1, 2013

On Tuesday in class we talked about the media’s decisions to cover controversial stories.  We talked about the Florida pastor who wanted to put the Koran on “Trial” then burn it and discussed if news outlets, such as CNN, should have given this guy airtime. This was a great example of media ethics.  News outlets aren’t the only media that has to deal with ethical dilemmas. The sports industry also does.

This past week multiple sports outlets, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, published a list of professional athletes who were connected with DR. Anthony Bosch who has been charged with distributing illegal performance enhancing drugs. The media released the names of baseball players. One of those players was Alex Rodrigues who has admitted to steroid use in the past. Other players on this list however have never been linked to steroids in the past.

My question is should the media have released the names of the athletes without knowing if the players actually got anything illegal from Bosch?

Geo Gonzalez has never been linked with steroids and is coming of his best season of his career. His name was found in a pile of papers that the journalist went through. His family and him now have to answer questions about it. No one knows whether or not he really did it but if he didn’t it’s unfair that his name has now been tarnished all because of the media.

In my opinion the media should not have named the players who have never failed a drug test. These players might have been going to see Bosch for things other than steroids. What do you guys think?

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5 Comments
  1. cdmccart permalink

    I agree that the media should not name players players who have never failed a drug test, and should wait for all the facts to be presented before tarnishing a person’s image. Unfortunately I feel that is the trend sports reporting has taken. Sports, especially is such an entertainment business. ESPN has such a stronghold on this market and is very aware of their audience, which in many cases is a younger demographic.This younger generation wants noteworthy stories so they can talk about it on Facebook and Twitter. In that sense, journalism ethics is not taken as seriously as it should. With stories such as the Tiger Woods scandal, and the ongoing Manti Te’o story, gossip reporting has taken center stage. People are glued to their televisions waiting for updates, whether they’re completely true or not. With shows such as Sportscenter bringing in millions of viewers, ESPN has thrown caution to the wind in favor of tabloid journalism. Once ESPN has set this precedent, the rest of the sports journalism world has followed, mostly in order to stay relevant.

  2. It may not be the ethically right thing to do, but this has been going on for years. Players know that if they are even involved in taking any substance, regardless if it’s legal or not, news will get out, and people will question that. If ESPN sees a big-time name like Rodriguez, they’re going to put it out there, especially because of his past use with steroids. For the other players who’s names were listed and may not be guilty of using illegal substances, they are innocent until proven guilty. I know in this day and age that if someone is speculated of using steroids or PEDs, than they are labeled a cheater forever, and no one will forget that. But that’s what players get themselves into, they know the consequences in case something like these lists come out. ESPN does not care about the career of any athlete, they wont go out of their way to make sure that an athlete is publicly protected (maybe LeBron is an exception), so they are going to do whatever they want if it results in higher ratings and big-time headlines. So, although the idea of revealing the names of players who are speculated but not proven to have done illegal acts may be a bit shallow and un-ethical; it doesn’t matter, because its going to continue to happen. Players have to learn to either stay away from high profile doctors who are known for dealing with all-stars because of the consequence of having their name put out there, or just not do anything questionable in the first place.

  3. I agree with Joe, I think if players affiliate with doctors who are known for distributing illegal steroids to other players, then they are ultimately setting themselves up for this story. It is like the old saying, “you are the company that you keep.” Even if the players themselves were not proven to have used steroids, when ESPN publishes a story saying that several players names were found in a list of documents linked with the doctor, people are going to assume that they are using the steroids.
    However the bigger issue Stuart brings up here is more ethical; is it right to still publish these names if there is no direct proof that the assumed players were using steroids. Personally I wouldn’t have published the story. If this is just an accusation due to a list of names of documents, then we as journalists don’t have enough proof to link a baseball players name, career, and reputation with steroid use.
    We are learning in class that the media often times publishes story about accusations or alleged incidents in order to sell papers. But as journalists making ethical decisions, we have to draw the line between selling stories and telling accurately what we know to be true and therefore, publishing newsworthy content.

  4. In my opinion you have to name everyone that was in Anthony Bosch’s records. Unlike the first question of the Objectivity Exercise we did where there were “police sources,” there is evidence (Bosch’s notebook) that link all the players to Biogenesis of America. In a sport where drug use was rampant over the past two decades, it is naïve to think it still isn’t going on. The players that have never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs should still be released, because they were associated with a man who distributed PEDs. By including them in the report, it doesn’t mean they are guilty or their reputation is tarnished. If there is no further proof that would implicate them and PEDs, the public will forget about it.

    Many of the players on this list have already been caught using performance enhancing drugs, and Bosch’s notebook outlines exactly what each person was doing. Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, and Bartolo Colon were on Bosch’s list and have all been suspended in their careers for taking illegal substances.

    Players like Gio Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz should not be exempt from the report just because they didn’t fail a drug test. There are pictures on the internet from Bosch’s notebook that outline everything that the two players allegedly took from Bosch. It would have been faulty reporting to NOT mention them. This doesn’t mean they are guilty, but they are certainly guilty of associating with Bosch. Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds and countless others never failed drug tests, but have admitted to taking them. Many drugs in baseball are still undetectable, and the use of in-season blood testing that has recently been agreed upon should help end any illegal drug use in the MLB.

  5. Would you leave Ryan Braun off the list? In 2011, he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, but won an appeal of his suspension because of alleged tampering. He went to the University of Miami and the Biogenesis clinic is in South Florida. After he was found to be innocent, many fans forgot about his run in with illegal drug use and he had one of his best seasons ever and was one of the more popular players in the MLB again. Even though he “never failed a drug test” should he not be included in a potential article?

    With every player on the list provided by Bosch, there is enough proof to name them in the report. There is a link between each and every one of them to Bosch’s clinic. Five players (Jhonny Peralta, Cruz, Gonzalez, Cabrera, and Jesus Montero) all have the same agency, which has previously been linked to PEDs.

    That is not to say that I think they are all guilty, but definitely worthy enough to be named in this report. I don’t think you can just pick and choose what people you put in the report simply because they have never tested positive. What if Gio Gonzalez did take PEDs from this clinic but you didn’t include him in the report because he has never tested positive. Alex Rodriguez was the headline of this report, but while he has admitted steroid use, he has never tested positive either. It sends the wrong message that you are willing to name the people that have used PEDs in the past, even if they were falsely accused of being involved with Bosch, but not willing to name people who have never failed drug tests, who did take PEDs from Bosch.

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