McCain's Steroid Bill is Bad Public Policy
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has joined with 4 members of the House Government Reforms Committee to introduce a bill that would mandate strict steroid policies for the four major sports. Should the bill become law, professional athletes would be subject to a 2-year ban after a first positive test and a lifetime ban after the second.
Steroids are a serious problem for amateur and professional athletes. And I think the Congressional hearings were appropriate, given the huge impact sports have on our nation and particularly the influence athletes hold over our youth. But this bill is crossing the line.
There are already numerous laws forbidding and regulating steroid use. If the government wants to increase the penalties for illegally buying and selling steroids, that’s an acceptable solution. But it is a serious government overreach to mandate that professional sports, which are private industries, drug test and punish their employees for violations.
If the federal government can force private companies to drug test, how long before this type of law moves out of the realm of professional sports and into other industries? The Arizona Republic reports that McCain is simply using the bill as a scare tactic to force the major sports and particularly Major League Baseball into adopting much more stringent internal regulations. But I don’t think it is appropriate for the federal government to even threaten this kind of legislation.
This is clearly one of those cases where the government perceives a problem and believes it should provide the solution. It shouldn’t. Public outrage has already pushed Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig into proposing and receiving owner approval for much stricter steroid testing guidelines and punishments. Other pro sports would likely do the same should significant steroid abuse come to light.
The free market combined with existing steroid laws will handle this without the heavy hand of government intervening. It’s disappointing to see McCain support such bad legislation.