Even if you weren't a baseball fan, you knew who the heck Ken Griffey Jr. was. How many baseball players do you know of with a signature sneaker? How about their own baseball game? No, I'm not talking about one that had him on the cover, I'm talking about a game that was actually named after him: Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball.
Unlike most pro athletes, KGJ managed to escape steroids scandals, but did "The Kid" ever use them?
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were hit with steroid rumors.
Whenever it comes to doping in sports, even when athletes test positive, there are a litany of appeals and legal routes individuals can take in order to muddy the waters and hopefully put doubt in people's minds as to whether or not they're actually juicing.
But when it came to the home run record race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, steroid rumors were rampant.
Mark had admitted to using performance enhancing drugs in order to help heal from injuries, however, his alleged drug dealer claims that the slugger was intentionally using them in order to bulk up and improve his size and strength, and not just to get through a nagging injury.
Sammy Sosa, when asked whether or not he ever roided up in an interview with Jeremy Schapp, gave a very political answer: "I never tested positive in this country."
The controversy surrounding these two players, despite shattering field records and ushering in a renewed national fascination with Major League Baseball, has most probably kept them from entering the Hall of Fame as of now.
A similar controversy surrounds the MLB's all-time single season home run leader and one of the biggest hitter's the sport has ever seen: Barry Bonds. But other big time hitters, like Ken Griffey Jr. have seemed to escape scrutiny.
Did Ken Griffey Jr. ever use steroids?
If there's anything I've learned from Lance, Bigger Faster Stronger, Icarus, and a litany of other sports documentaries, is that the stakes in professional athletics are ridiculously high.
One's body needs to be at peak performance for ridiculously sustained periods of time and players are a split second away from a potentially career-ending injury.
Then there are the monetary stakes at hand: one's window of fiscal viability to an organization only lasts for so long, and getting injured or not performing at your peak could hurt a new contract negotiation or get you traded to another team that may not be the best fit for you or your career trajectory.
It's imperative to note that no, Ken Griffey Jr. did not, in fact, ever test positive for taking steroids in his baseball career.
No one really even accused the sport's "Golden Child" of roiding up either, and there are several factors attributed to this. One: he was at the top of the game. There are fewer baseball players as ubiquitous as KGJ, probably the only one that's more recognizable is Babe Ruth.
Two: Ken's appearance: he had that All-American, clean cut look and there really weren't any major scandals associated with his name.
It became known during Michael Jordan's career that he was a bit of a hard-ass to play with, and then there was the foggy cloud of his gambling "addiction" detractors loved to talk about whenever his name popped up in the media cycle.
Ken never had any of that, and he didn't look like a musclebound meathead either. But that doesn't mean he couldn't have taken PEDs.
A Bleacher Report article brings up an interesting point about the public perception regarding steroids and their immediate effect on physical appearance. Primobolan, for example, will get you stronger and drastically improve your recovery time. However, it doesn't make one's muscles retain water like other more popular 'roids. It was rumored that Alex Rodriguez, who was never an overly-jacked dude, had used this PED.
Again, Ken never did test positive for taking steroids, but to be a home run leader for multiple seasons, play at a high level for 22 consecutive years, and deal with the litany of injuries, and grueling workouts, plus play with several other MLB users who either tested positive or admitted to using roids: Alex Rodriguez, David Segui, Shane Monahan, Glenallen Hill, Ryan Franklin, Todd Williams, Josias Manzanillo, Ron Villone, and David Bell, makes it questionable.
Did he just eek by unnoticed because of his squeaky clean image? Or was he just that good naturally?
What do you think? Do you even care if professional athletes, who subject their bodies to already inhuman amounts of physical training and abuse, use steroids so they can work harder anyway?