Performance Enhancing Drugs and the MLB
by, 06-05-2013 at 11:22 AM (303 Views)
With all the recent developments in the latest PED scandal, it remains to be seen which players (if any) will receive suspensions and how those penalties may or may not impact the Minnesota Twins.
While MLB is busy trying to procure documents, names and testimonies from now-defunct Biogenesis and its shady former owner Tony Bosch, countless athletes such as Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez are once again finding their names in the headlines for suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Winning Bosch as an ally in the fight against PEDs doesn't exactly help MLB here. Make no mistake, these players and many others may have cheated, but without any new evidence, positive tests or further proof linking these players to PEDs, MLB may be no closer to identifying and punishing the guilty parties. By relying on documents and testimony instead of positive tests to dole out suspensions, the players union will have legal grounds to contest every penalty. Furthermore, instead of convincing the public and media that MLB has a handle on its generation-long war against PEDs, the ever-growing list of suspected players may have the opposite effect. The question must be asked: is it possible that MLB's anti-drug policy isn't working?
Take the case of Melky Cabrera, for example. After testing positive for a banned substance and serving a 50-game suspension in the 2012 season, the Blue Jays rewarded Cabrera this past off-season with a 2-year, $16-million contract. There's no doubt he would have earned even more money as a free agent had he not been caught cheating, but it stands to reason that countless athletes (and the general sports-watching public, if given the opportunity) will continue to risk public scorn and temporary penalties for long-term financial security. For teams that sign these players, increased revenue and great on-field performances continue outweigh the risks and redeem players of even the worst offenses.
It is clear that 50-game suspensions (or the threat of 100-game suspensions and lifetime bans for 2nd and 3rd-time offenders, respectively) are not discouraging players from using drugs to gain a competitive edge. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that MLB is no closer to identifying how or why players cheat, nor have they been able to get ahead of the science that allows cheaters to fool drug tests. The MLB anti-drug policy is solely reactionary and, as a scare tactic and perhaps nothing more, it isn't succeeding at preventing the use of PEDs. So long as athletes can count on 8-figure salaries even after having been caught cheating, they will continue to look for the competitive advantage, regardless of the other (relatively minor) consequences.