Athletes should be banned for cheating dependent on the severity of the action. Serious offenses such as the use of steroids or intentionally injuring another player are serious enough to warrant a lifetime ban. The reason for this is due to the potential harm to the integrity of the game. An example must be made to show that such behavior will not be tolerated, and also a lifetime ban is justified in the fact that once someone severely cheats it is difficult to trust their character and performance.
Athletes that cheat should be able to come back incase they learned a lesson, besides if athletes keep cheating then cheating should just be open as a choice for if you want to do it. There is no law against cheating so whats the big deal??? ??? ??? ??? ???
It's cheating when Andy Pettite takes HGH in order to heal for an injury. It's perfectly acceptable when Kobe Bryant flies to Germany to get experimental therapy under a cloud of secrecy. It's cheating when Alex Rodriguez takes testosterone. It's perfectly acceptable when Stephen Strausburg has a cadaver ligament that's stronger than a normal humans ligament inserted in his pitching arm.
How does any of this make sense? How is it that Barry Bonds taking steroids makes him a cheater who should be banned for life, but Hank Aaron taking amphetamines makes him some kind of moral authority.
Banning "cheaters" for life makes absolutely no sense when we can't even come up with a definition of "cheating" that makes sense and can be applied consistently.