Friday, June 13, 2008

Congress Sets Sights on MLB & Horse Racing

Congress is ready to jump back into the PED fray over the next two weeks and is targeting MLB and horse racing. The horse hearing will be held next week while Congress awaits responses from a letter issued to MLB and the players union within two weeks.

The horse racing hearing was called due to the public outcry over Eight Belles being euthanized on the track after the Kentucky Derby. A statement from the committee called that recent deaths "point to a persistent and widespread problem, raising significant questions about the sport and its governance."

Controversial Big Brown trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr., will testify at the hearing. He has admitted publicly that he injects his horses with Winstrol on the 15th of each month. Steroids are legal in 28 of 38 racing jurisdictions including the three where the Triple Crown takes place.

He stated that Big Brown did not receive an injection in May. There has been much speculation that the reason why Big Brown finished last at the Belmont and did not have the "kick" that he normally has, was due to the lack of roids. Dutrow is aware that the committee will ask him about roids which is why he'll have his veterinarian with him so he answers the questions "fully and informed."

A world class trainer who has been shooting up his horses with roids needs his vet to be there so he can answer questions fully and be informed? Are you kidding me, RD Jr.? No one pops pills or puts anything in their body without "being informed". You make your living by training horses and I would assume you are already fully informed of the benefits and consequences of each steroid you inject in your animals. Something does not add up, and Dutrow can sense that the committee will see this. A little misdirection and preparing to be the sacrificial lamb for his sport seems like a nice p.r. stunt.

"I'm also interested in answering the questions about surfaces and fatal injuries. I'm coming here in good faith. And if they want to kill me, I'm going try to be prepared for that." Answering questions about surfaces? Congress does not call hearings regarding surfaces in horse racing. The topic is recent deaths and governance issues in the sport. Stay on topic or prepare for death, Mr. Dutrow, because Congress will be looking for blood.

"MLB has "done it once again" by appearing to be less than forthright in their 2005 Congressional testimony. Both MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the head of the players union, Donald Fehr appear to have contradicted the Mitchell Report findings when they testified in 2005.

The issue at the center of the controversy is MLB's claim that positive PED test results were dramatically reduced from 2003 to 2004 (from more than 100 to 12). What MLB and the players union failed to disclose in their testimony was drug testing in 2004 was suspended for a portion of the season. Congress wants to know, if the program was suspended, why this information was not disclosed in their testimony. Congress also asked whether some players were given advance notice of upcoming tests and if this was the case, why this information was not disclosed in their testimony.

In the Mitchell Report, it was uncovered and confirmed by baseball and union officials that the random drug testing program was suspended for a large part of the 2004 season. Also in the report, at least one player was informed by Gene Orza, the chief operating officer for the players union, that he would be tested within two weeks.

Donald Fehr and MLB were both on the same page regarding the integrity of the testing program in 2005. Fehr said, "no player knew when he was going to be tested" and Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, wrote to the Congressional committee in 2005 "no notice was provided to players prior to testing."

The testing was suspended in 2004 after the 2003 positive results were seized as part of the BALCO investigation in April 2004. For the players who tested positive in 2003, they were not tested until the end of the 2004 season. It was determined that those players were not to be tested until they had been notified that their results had been seized. Orza did not notify the players until late in the season, leaving little time for the annual test to occur.

It doesn't take an average IQ MLB'er, who still thinks the pie in the face is high hilarity, to know when it's time to cycle off the juice. This group of 100 players who were being notified late in the season, already tested positive in 2003 and more than likely were still using. Orza already advised one player that he would be tested in two weeks, how many other players did he notify?

Gene Orza declined to provide additional details to George Mitchell when he declined Mitchell's interview request. Nice work on the transparency and legitimatizing your constituency Mr. Orza. You served your people well.

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