In case you missed, Sports Illustrated broke the story this weekend that Alex Rodriguez’s 2003 “anonymous” drug test revealed use of an anabolic steroid. Here are some of my thoughts on the issue.
— This is an absolute embarrassment to the US government. Here we have a private organization implementing a program to fix a problem that government officials wanted fixed. Players did not have to agree to random testing, and without the 2003 anonymous testing we might have a very different MLB drug policy today. The samples ultimately got used for something other than their intended purpose, and people wonder why players are were to reluctant to agree to testing in the first place? President Obama is right to shut down Gitmo for violating civil rights. He should shut down the BALCO case as well. The proper role of government isn’t to satisfy our curiosity about doping in sports. This has what this case is about.
— Why didn’t the union destroy the tests? My guess is that the assumed the government would not be able to get their hands on the list—why would they think that the government might want this?—and the union wanted to have the information for its own purposes. I have argued that it’s in the player’s interest to test each other, owners shouldn’t care. I suspect that union leaders could find a lot of uses for these tests. For example, if a player fails a test now and claims it must be a false positive, the union could benefit from knowing if the player had used before when it plans its defense
— It’s way to early to think about Hall of Fame implications. We have no idea about how we’re going to think about steroid use in the future.
— Releasing the remainder of the 104 names isn’t fair. If one name leaked off a list of homosexual players who wished to remain in the closet, would it be fair to out the remaining names? What happened to A-Rod was unfair, but that doesn’t mean that releasing the names of other players is now morally acceptable. If players don’t want their names trickling out, then individual players on the list can reveal this on their own.
— What’s A-Rod’s strategy going to be? Many have suggested that he “come clean” and apologize like Andy Pettitte did. The Pettitte woe-is-me act won’t work for A-Rod. We didn’t forgive Pettitte because we thought he was sorry. He wasn’t sorry, because he changed his story of “used once” to “used twice” when new details came up. Pettitte got a pass because he’s liked, not for being honest. I think the strategy is going to be sue everybody. Whoever leaked this information did so illegally, and the only way to find out who did it is to take the whole thing down. Maybe he’ll cop to some use, I don’t know; but, I think this is going to get very ugly.
Addendum: King Kaufman demonstrates why the Andy Pettitte defense won’t work for A-Rod.
…Alex Rodriguez is Alex Rodriguez. He can’t scratch his ear without somebody declaring that he symbolizes all that’s wrong, evil and distorted with baseball, sports, America, humanity and the universe. I mean, did you see him scratch his ear?
Update: And now we can test if the Pettitte strategy works for A-Rod.
“When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day,” Rodriguez told ESPN’s Peter Gammons in an interview in Miami Beach, Fla. “Back then, [baseball] was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve. I wanted to prove to everyone I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.
“I did take a banned substance. For that, I’m very sorry and deeply regretful.”