Dear sports fan,
I’m a bit worried about you. All this bluster and outrage over leaked names from MLB’s 2003 Survey Test.
Let me repeat that just to let it sink in… 2003. Not this season, nor last, but six years ago.
And, I don’t care if it’s David Ortiz or Alex Rodriguez; you really aren’t worried about PEDs in baseball. What you’re worried about are the records. You’re worried about the stars. You're worried about the rich players that might be lying, but not PEDs in baseball, otherwise, every red-blooded sports fan would tell Michael S. Schmidt and The New York Times that the leaked names don’t mean a thing by doing what you did with the NBA this past week…. Nothing.
For some of you, the reference may not even register. The news that came out of the NBA on Friday was that Rashard Lewis of the Orlando Magic was suspended 10 games for being in violation of the league’s drug policy for elevated levels of testosterone. It was by far the highest profile player to be suspended in the NBA for PEDs, and his positive test occurred during the NBA playoffs, possibly the Finals.
Lewis became only the sixth player ever – repeat ever – to be suspended for PEDs in the National Basketball Association, and the news didn’t even register a collective pulse with fans by Monday.
But, you don’t care about all that, and here’s why. Listen to what Lewis said at the time of his announced suspension:
“Toward the end of the season I took an over-the-counter supplement which at the time I did not realize included a substance banned by the NBA.”
And, yet, here we are this past weekend, with the incoming head of the MLBPA sitting beside David Ortiz making excuses for something that occurred (yet again) six years ago, with the topic eerily similar.
From the MLBPA:
“[I]n 2003, legally available nutritional supplements could trigger an initial "positive" test under our program.”
“Given the uncertainties inherent in the list, we urge the press and the public to use caution in reaching conclusions based on leaks of names, particularly from sources whose identities are not revealed.”
From the Boston Red Sox:
“The Players Association made clear in its public statement today that there are substantial uncertainties and ambiguity surrounding the list of 104 names from the 2003 survey test. Indeed, there is even uncertainty about the number of players on this 2003 government list, whether it is 104, 96, 83, or less. Many of those uncertainties apparently relate to the use of then-legal nutritional supplements that were not banned by Baseball.”
And, Ortiz himself said he was "a little bit careless" about using some supplements then. And he, and all the other players in MLB, didn't have a certified “safe list” to work from at the time. J.C. Romero, you don’t get a pass. You, did.
But, you don’t care, ‘cause if you did, you’d be outraged over the incredible number of prospects in the Dominican Summer League that test positive for PEDs under the current testing program.
Dear fan, you’re a bit of a hypocrite.
If you were really, truly following the story, you’d see what makes Ortiz positive test from 2003 and Rashard’s test from this past off-season possible brothers from different mothers: over-the-counter supplements.
Rashard reportedly took a supplement with Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a drug that is used for muscle-building, but is banned within the NBA. DHEA is not banned by baseball.
However, the steroid nandrolone is banned in MLB, and according to a report by the New York Daily News, “Most steroids can be legally purchased in Ortiz's native Dominican Republic and the process is as easy as walking to a pharmacy counter and asking for the drug you need.
“The News reported last week that 19-norandrostenedione contained the hardcore steroid nandrolone - used to build muscle - when it was legally available over the counter six years ago.”
Read a conversation about how the baseball culture is in the Dominican Republic, and ask yourself why there aren’t more positives occurring in the here and now, not six years ago.
But, all this is technical. It’s all academic. It’s this simple:
You shouldn’t care about any names on any list because the names aren’t what the 2003 tests were about. They were about whether mandatory drug testing would, or would not be introduced in Major League Baseball based upon a number – a threshold, that if broken, would trigger the mandatory testing.
Unless you were asleep, you’ll see that there’s drug testing – flawed as it may be – you have testing.
So, fans, quit going to blogs where fictitious lists with the 104 are published. If you’re a Yankees fan, be upset only insofar as to ask why it finally took this much critical mass for the MLBPA and MLB to say, “Question the results based upon the testing measurements and the fact that tainted supplements could have caused a positive then, but possibly not now.”
By the same token, Red Sox fan, don’t get all worked up in a lather about Alex Rodriguez.
If you want to prove you’re not a hypocrite, where were you for Ryan Franklin, or Kelvin Pichardo or Humberto Cota or Ryan Jorgensen or Guillermo Mota, or for that matter, Alex Sanchez, that player that is an answer to the PED trivia question? You weren’t for them, or at least the majority of you weren’t. If you really cared, you would have cared all along, regardless of the star power of a player. Not even Michael S. Schmidt cares. He only cares about the story and how you’ll react. If he cared, he’d be little concerned about helping break the law for something that happened (yet again) six years ago.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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