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.    

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