Monday, February 9, 2009

What About The Other 103?

I'm not an advocate for the use of anabolic steroids in sports. However, I'm not one to have ever been horrified by the use of steroids in baseball. I've always felt it was pretty amazing that baseball became the focus of the sportswriters' and politicians' crusades against performance enhancement chemicals when anyone with eyes can see that they've been used in that most popular of American sport leagues, the NFL, for a long time. Compare the size of the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers dynasty teams to any current O line. Heck, compare them to the O Line of an SEC team for that matter.

This weekend it was leaked that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for "steroids" in 2003. Most people seemed to jump on A-Rod immediately for this alleged transgression. My position was somewhat different. I wondered how they would even know since the Major League Baseball Player's Association agreed to testing in 2003 only if it was anonymous. The idea in 2003 was that MLB and the MLBPA needed to get an accurate idea of how big a problem steroid use was in baseball. You have to remember that the MLBPA runs baseball. The owners don't run the game, Bud Selig doesn't run the game, the MLBPA runs the game. So they reluctantly agreed to testing under threats from the federal government and pressure from Selig only because none of the players could ever be fingered for a positive test.

The 2003 testing was done and it was announced that 104 players tested positive. This was deemed a sufficient "problem", so we got congressional show trials and eventually a testing and enforcement process in the game. Fast forward to 2009 and one name gets leaked to the press from the 104 positive, anonymous and confidential tests. How? And why?

Here, apparently, is the "how." Gene Orza, COO of MLBPA, thought the tests were flawed-- not that many players could be users. He wanted to challenge the results and so he hung on to the documents. Bad move. Along came the BALCO scandal and the feds were now involved. They demanded documents from everyone around baseball and, apparently, one key document they got from the MLBPA was the 2003 list. The union representing the players agreed on their behalf to testing but only if it was anonymous. But the federal government agreed to nothing of the sort and the MLBPA couldn't refuse to give up the docs-- at least that's the way it looks from my quiet perch here by the lake.

But why would only ARod's name get leaked by the feds? Maybe because the feds didn't leak it.
Who, right now, is battling the feds in court over the steroids issue?
Who would, for his defense, be allowed to see all evidence the prosecution has against him?
Who broke all of the home run records, got booed outside of SF for doing so, and had to listen to everybody say that one day it will be "ok" again because Maris and Aaron's records will be broken by someone "clean", someone named Alex?

My guess is that the leak came from someone in the Barry Bonds defense camp and the rationale is, "Why are you going after my guy when everybody, even your golden boy Alex, was doing it?"

Hey, it's just a theory, Darwin.