A Department of Justice on Steroids

It’s amazing how much buzz has revolved around Barry Bonds’s steroid use. Now, private organizations, including sports teams and leagues, should be free to mandate abstention from whatever drugs. Fans and others might disagree with their decisions (the Olympics rules, in particular, can be pretty harsh—I personally find it ridiculous that they stripped a gold medal from figure skater Andreea Raducan merely for using an over-the-counter cold medicine that contained pseudoephedrine), but these questions are best left to the market, and in the case of Bonds the relevant market institution is the Major Baseball League.

But the state has no business telling professional baseball how to operate or what its players can and cannot put in their bodies. This is of course just today’s highest profile example of the expanding and increasingly ludicrous and draconian war on drugs. Now, in an attempt to make an example of him, they are threatening to ruin his life and cage him for 30 years. Not for drug use, but for two other non-crimes—”perjury” and “obstruction of justice.” As with Martha Stewart, the state imprisons people that make it harder for it to do its job imprisoning people. But imprisoning people shouldn’t be too easy, except in a police state. Furthermore, why is it a crime to lie to authorities over an investigation they have no business carrying out in the first place? And when government authorities lie to us, how come they are reelected or, at worst, retire with fat tax-funded pensions—instead of thrown in jail? Government’s lies certainly endanger the public far more than any fib Bonds might have told about steroid use.

Anthony Gregory is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books American Surveillance and The Power of Habeas Corpus in America.
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