Major League Baseball Tells Impoverished Dominicans Not to Use Steroids

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Major League Baseball has singled out the Dominican Republic in one of their most ambitious efforts to crack down on the use of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs among top amateur baseball players. The sport of baseball is an obsession in the small Caribbean country with a population of approximately nine million people. Steroid use was shown to be a major problem last year when MLB tested revealed that 13 of 40 top Dominican prospects were using steroids. Up until this year, top Dominican prospects did not face penalties after a failed steroid test.

MLB is focusing on the small country for several reasons. Not only does the Dominican Republic provide the greatest number of exports to the MLB of any other country outside the United States, but the widespread poverty in the country make young people particularly susceptible to the temptations of steroids as a possible means to escape poverty by increasing their chances of signing a MLB contract.

Steroid use doesn’t have the same stigma in the Dominican Republic as it does in the United States and few people blame young players for doing what it takes to make it in professional baseball. The average annual salary in the Dominican Republic is $8,600. Professional baseball is the ticket out of poverty for many young people and their families. The signing bonus for top prospects averages about $180,000 which is more than they would earn in an entire lifetime in the Dominican Republic.

MLB faces a particular difficult challenge of convincing Dominican prospects of the dangers of steroids when the health consequences of living in poverty are all too real to them and their families.

Dominican Republic

About Millard Baker