Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Timing of the Donald Fehr announcement

It was announced yesterday that the head of the baseball players' association, Donald Fehr, will be stepping down from the post no later than the end of March. His legacy and what that announcement means to the role of PEDs in baseball has already started to be debated.

The timing of the announcement is suspect. Normally, an announcement would take place at the end of the season. The next collective bargaining agreement is in 2011 so there will be plenty of time for his successor, Michael Weiner, to get acclimated with the process.

Most speculation about the timing of his resignation has to do with last week's leak of Sammy Sosa's positive test in 2003 to the survey test results. Those results were to be anonymous. However, all 104 positive test results from the 2003 survey tests were seized by the government. The union, under Fehr's leadership failed it's membership by not destroying the results. Is it possible more names will leaked? Will there be pressure for the other 102 names to be released rather than have a small trickle of information every couple of months?

The reason why the results were not destroyed was Fehr was trying to protect his membership. If he was able to find false positives amongst the 104, he could possibly lower the number of positive results to below the 5% threshold. Under the agreement reached between the union and baseball, if more than 5% tested positive in 2003, mandatory testing would be implemented with penalties for positives. Looking back, this all seems relatively straightforward and common sense, but the union argued that drug testing violated a player's right to privacy.

It's too early to tell if Fehr's resignation had anything to do with the recent Sosa leak, but it would immensely clear up the air if they were able to state for certain that the union has any knowledge where the leak is coming from. Time will tell.    

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


DWM – Driving while on meth? Reportedly that is what Jeremy Mayfield tested positive for and resulted in his suspension according to ESPN the Magazine.

Previously, Mayfield and NASCAR had two very different stories explaining the failed drug test. Mayfield stuck to his mixture of a prescription drug with over-the-counter allergy medication Claritin-D defense. NASCAR’s drug testing administrator rejected that explanation.

Reading between the lines, this story was not going to end with a fairy tale ending: prescription drugs combined with Claritin? How many possibilities are there that one would test positive for with that combination? However, Mayfield can salvage his reputation with NASCAR fans by owning it, making some amends and promising to be a better man. It’s a country song cliché, but those themes are universal and appealing to most people.

Denying and lying just make you look sleazy and any hopes of a future career in the sport have officially come to a screeching halt if Mayfield continues this course of action.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baseball Fans Taking a Moral Stand?

With the release of the fans’ current NL All Star standings yesterday, Manny Ramirez is slipping fast. He is now sixth. When these rankings were first released in late May, he was fourth. Only the top three vote getters will start the All Star Game.

Why the change of heart? Are MLB fans tired of players roiding out of their minds and cheating to get ahead? It’s possible, but highly unlikely. Some players including Jimmy Rollins and even Ramirez’s manager, Joe Torre, came out against Ramirez being an All-Star since he tested positive for a banned substance. The substance he tested positive for was a woman’s fertility drug, human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG. HCG is used by roiders to regulate their testosterone levels after coming off a steroid cycle.

Respective parties involved in this dispute will fight for their positions such as the Player’s Association will rightfully say that they have a collectively bargained agreement that allows Ramirez the right to participate in the game, but let’s use some common sense. Using banned substances and cheating the game whether intentional or not should not be rewarded with a trip to the All-Star Game. It’s that simple. The longer the fans vote and reward this behavior, the union fights for their right and MLB remains passive on this issue, the more likely fans will start to drift away and parents will look elsewhere for true role models to show their children right from wrong.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Player v. Blogger

This week saw a new trend emerge in sports: a player responding to a blogger.

Earlier this week, Midwest Sports Fans blogger Jerod Morris, questioned how 37-year old Raul Ibanez was able to get off to such a hot start after flying under the radar for most of his career. At the time of Morris’ post, Ibanez had 19 HR, 54 RBI, 46 R and .329 BA through 55 games. In 2006, Ibanez had a career best 33 HR, with the Seattle Mariners.

Morris analyzed factors such as home ballparks, quality of pitching faced and the new lineup in Philadelphia. He then went on to “acknowledge the elephant in the room.” The elephant being that when an aging player comes out of nowhere to put up unusual numbers, doubts are raised…especially after all the repeated denials of players past and present later to be found out to have cheated.

Ibanez was not a fan of the insinuation, looking into the possibility of taking legal action. Taking a page from the roider’s handbook, he came out firing saying, "I'll give back every dime I've ever made.”

I have endorsed that idea in the past. Contracts need to be tied to the athletes behaving ethically. If you are caught using you PED’s you would need to return all monies earned in your current contract. These guys are still role models, right? If you’re cheating, you shouldn’t be rewarded. A change the incentives will lead to a change in behavior.

As faith should have it, Ibanez hit a 3 run home run in the 10th inning to beat the Mets last night. It’s his 21st of the season, one behind MLB leader Adrian Gonzalez with 22.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another Call for Manny to Sit Out the All-Star Game

Bill Rhoden of The New York Times is calling for MLB and the players union (MLBPA) to change the rules of the All Star Game in light of Manny Ramirez’s 50 game suspension of using a banned substance. Sentiments that were first echoed here at Beef Roids 9 days earlier.

Rhoden takes his ban one step further to include any postseason award. Ramirez’s manager, Joe Torre, has publicly said Ramirez should not be allowed to play in the game even though he is entitled to play based on the current collective bargaining agreement between baseball and the players union. Other current players feel strongly that it sends the wrong message. Jimmy Rollins said it best: “If you get caught in the first half of the season, no matter who you are, what you mean to the game, you shouldn’t be an All-Star. It shouldn’t really be a question. Even if he’s leading in the voting or is second, he’s basically taking a spot for somebody else who is more deserving.”

It should be noted that other sports have similar rules preventing athletes who test positive for banned substances from participating in postseason awards or all-star type events.

Rhoden was also able to speak with the executive director of the MLBPA, Donald Fehr, to get his opinion on the topic. “We have an agreement. This situation was considered during the time the agreement was negotiated. If the suspension takes place during the time the All-Star Game is played, the player is not eligible. If it’s over, and he has completed the penalty, then he’s like any other player.”

An amendment to the current contract will only be added at the time of the next agreement. I’m all for two parties collectively bargaining an agreement. What I’m against is idiotic behavior and baseball is once again going down that path. What both sides fail to realize that clinging to the “agreement” argument is that it turns off fans. There was an “agreement” collectively bargained for that allowed baseball to dope and roid out of their minds (even though it was illegal to have without a prescription) until Congress intervened and forced both sides to reopen the “agreement.”

Commissioner Selig and Donald Fehr: Do the right thing and use some common sense before you alienate even more fans.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Next Radomski?

Late last month, a central Florida man was arrested with thousands of steroid pills and other PED's in his home. Upon his arrest, he was eager to speak to the police.

Richard Thomas said he sold PED's to professional football, hockey and baseball players before he was arrested last month. He specifically mentioned the teams Washington Capitals of the NHL and the Washington Nationals of MLB. Authorities do not have any information to verify these claims.

Thomas said, "You name the sport, and I've sold steroids to athletes who play it."

What's interesting about these allegations involving the Capitals is that the team passed three rounds of drug tests during the past two seasons. Either the drug dealer Thomas is lying or the drug testing program in the NHL needs a major overhaul. Should be interesting to see how this development plays out.

Just when one thinks the issue of PED's in professional sports hits a lull, a major story breaks alleging teams from multiple professional leagues. Now, it's a matter of time to see who is lying: arrested drug dealer or members of the alleged teams.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dara Torres Tested for PED's

According to Dara Torres' Twitter page, she was subjected to an unannounced drug test by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) yesterday. In her words, “Nothing like getn ready 2 jump in the pool and USADA (drug testing) shows up! Tried to hold it all practice, got 3/4 of the way!!”

At least we know USADA is doing their job and are apparently making unannounced visits to athletes out of competition. If Torres is still taking her medications, the test will come back positive, but she has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for asthma, so it’s all good. Athletes without the TUE would come up positive and be subject the sport’s governing body regarding violation of their doping rules.

For Torres to be all bubbly about testing seems a bit insincere. An examination of the facts reveals that she was diagnosed with asthma a little over two years ago. She spends over $100,000 on support for her training and supervision of her child, benefits that younger swimmers do not have. Again, it begs the question, someone with the financial wherewithal to see the best doctors and trainers being diagnosed with asthma at 39 seems strange. After being the recipient of the TUE, she then goes on to post times that were faster than when she swam 20 years ago. We have learned that some of the explanation comes from changes in swimsuit design, but using drugs that would have a teammate suspended does not seem that noble. If she was experiencing significant health problems without taking the prohibited substance, how come this issue was not discovered at an earlier time?

While it’s a great story that she was able to come back and break records, a closer look reveals some questionable actions taken on her part to achieve those results.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fallout from Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick's comments to Dan Patrick regarding PED's have drawn some heat.

Now Danica says she was "joking" when she said that using PED's would only be cheating if caught. She also said she would take an undetectable PED if it would allow her to win the Indy 500.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) wasn't buying it calling her comments "totally irresponsible." USADA CEO Travis Tygart said, "In one interview, she undercut what millions of parents try their best to teach their kids everyday in this country, that winners never cheat and cheaters never win."

Danica Patrick said in an interview with USA Today, "It was a bad joke. There is a lot of sensitivity in our culture about (performance-enhancing drugs). With all the baseball stuff, I've followed it and this is a real problem. It's a shame kids think they have to do this to get ahead. It's very dangerous."

The USADA reaction is a typical knee jerk one. However, we can't have it both ways; we're disappointed when the athletes let us in like Danica did and then we're disappointed when players don't own it like Mark McGwire. If anything, the USADA should use this as a learning opportunity and address the issue at hand: she admitted she would cheat if she knew she wouldn't be caught. Therefore, improve testing and impose stricter penalties such as a one and done policy. If the penalties are so great, the chances of people taking the risks to cheat will diminish substantially.