The use of steroids in Major League Baseball (MLB) traces back to the late 1980s, with the so-called "Steroids Era" believed to have spanned from 1994 to 2004. This period saw a significant increase in offensive output throughout the game, largely attributed to the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Notably, the pioneers of this era were Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, known as the Bash Brothers, who hit a combined 410 home runs while they were teammates with the Oakland Athletics from 1987 until 1992.
The Ban on Steroids
Despite the rampant use of steroids, it wasn't until 1991 that steroids made it to baseball's banned substance list. However, testing for major league players did not begin until the 2003 season. This delay in implementing testing measures meant that players using PEDs were unlikely to get caught, leading to a surge in steroid use during this period.
The Impact of the BALCO Scandal
The BALCO scandal, which involved allegations that top baseball players had used illegal performance-enhancing drugs, was a turning point for MLB's stance on steroids. Following the scandal, MLB took decisive action to ban steroids. This policy was accepted by both players and owners at the start of the 2005 season.
The Consequences of Steroid Use
The penalties for positive tests were severe. A player's first positive test would result in a 20-game suspension without pay. A second positive test would lead to a 60-game suspension without pay, and a third positive test would result in a lifetime ban from the sport. These stringent measures were put in place to deter players from using steroids and to maintain the integrity of the sport.