Niles coach says steroids not new issue in pro sports

Published 9:36 am Saturday, March 27, 2004

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Looking at Niles High School varsity baseball coach Mike Vota, nobody would accuse the former minor leaguer of using steroids.
The tall, spindly Vota, however, is no stranger to the illegal substances that are creating so much controversy around professional athletes lately.
After graduating from Towson University in Maryland, Vota was drafted as a pitcher by the Chicago White Sox in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 1995. He spent two years in the White Sox system, including a stay with the South Bend (Ind.) Silver Hawks.
During his time in professional baseball, Vota often saw and heard of illegal substances being used by players.
The competitive environment, Vota feels, is the main motivation for athletes to take the risk of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Part of a professional athlete's job is to improve himself physically. That requirement is not always an easy one to meet, so some feel the only way to achieve the desired results is steroids.
Making a major league team, however, was not that important to Vota.
Most of the recent controversy has surrounded some of Major League Baseball's power hitters, such as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. Sluggers, however, aren't the only ones who feel the pressure.
There is a difference between steroids and supplemental products. Steroids are not naturally-occurring while supplements basically give the athlete an extra boost of what is already in the body.
With all the motivation to use illegal steroids, why do the majority of athletes stay away from them? According to Vota, there are plenty of good reasons.
In an official press release, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said, "The illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing substances is detrimental to the integrity of the game and the long-term health of the athletes who use them. We in Major League Baseball are fully committed to eliminating these dangerous substances and reaching zero tolerance as soon as possible."
While this type of statement has been spurred on by threatened action by the federal government, Vota applauds Selig and those in baseball who claim to be cracking down on illegal drug use.
The players at Niles never have to worry about pressure to use performance-enhancing drugs. Vota and his coaching staff are committed to keeping the program and the players above reproach.