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Update: March 28, 2013

Arod benched

With half of the 2013 baseball season behind us, players and diehard fans should typically spend latter days of a baseball season closely following the performance of their division leaders. Instead, another scandal looms over the world of sport which threatens to further blemish the reputation of American athletes.

In previous articles, we discussed Major League Baseball’s steroid era and accusations of doping that involved high-profile athletes such as Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Pettite, Ramirez, and Alex Rodriguez. At that time, we feared that steroid use was being legitimized by allowing questionable players to remain active; thereby, establishing a precedent that would alter the integrity of ‘fair play’ in amateur & professional sport.

During the Mitchell Report, we spoke in terms of Conte, Bonds, and Balco Labs but today’s news involves a staggering number of athletes and sophisticated pharmaceutical supply chains. The concept of the clean/noble/upright athlete is fading as we learn more details from Biogenesis founder – Anthony Bosch.

Bosch street interview 3

Last year, we got hints of this train wreck when ESPN and Fox Sports reported about a Miami anti-aging clinic that had been providing testosterone and HGH injections to professional athletes. Vague references to Alex Rodriguez were being tossed around in social media without much evidence to substantiate the claims. Whereas journalists and fans ignored these headlines over the winter months, Major League Baseball was hard at work with an investigation that began with one brave clinical employee.

Perhaps, the New Times of Miami had the closest proximity to the story and felt that key factors contained enough credibility to make the pursuit worthwhile. One of those factors was whistleblower Porter Fischer – a marketing director for Biogenesis. The information that he copied is proving disastrous for Biogenesis but so vital to the ongoing investigation that he was reportedly paid for his information.

2012 Braun 2

New to MLB are clauses and other modified terms that enable sanctions to be imposed on players for reasons other than positive test results. In fact, players may be issued sanctions for ‘less than concrete’ reasons including (a) evidence of PED possession or (b) association with known PED providers to the extent that it would be plausible to determine said players as likely end-users.

These new terms are a collective ‘work-in-progress’ and require agents and attorneys to carefully weigh their options. Worrisome for players is one wrong selection that may severely alter or completely invalidate contracts. Problematic for the league are existing terms that have not expired but may compensate players though they’ve been proven guilty. The Bosch scandal is still in the process of unfolding and we’ve already learned of revolutionary penalties that the sport has never seen. The scope of doping conspiracies are so colossal that a ‘too big to fail’ scenario may emerge with all sides having so much to lose. There is a risk of fatigue whereby the investigation is abandoned and the status quo is maintained.
Ryan Braun was the first casualty of 2013 after being ‘outed’ for doping in 2012. Recall that the league attempted to address his doping habits last year but could not seal the deal due to the actions of an imperfect testing laboratory. By failing to handle samples in a timely fashion, Milwaukee Brewer – Ryan Braun was able to escape the bite of justice on a technicality.

With the rare opportunity given to Ryan Braun, it puzzles critics why the Brewer continued to dope given the elevated scrutiny that he’d be under. During a February 2012 press conference, Braun spoke boldly about his ordeal; thanking his family and friends who supported him. Amazingly, he redefined the series of events; equating a ‘dropped case’ to apparent innocence. Certainly, we all know that an abandoned case is NOT necessarily a declaration of innocence but merely a tactical calculation on the part of investigators. Nonetheless, Ryan flew quite close to his personal flame but continued to dance about the fire — only to become entangled in his own web of lies and steroid dependence. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewer franchise is scrambling to salvage the team and its playoff prospects without one of its productive stars.

AROD 2012

Alex Rodriguez is another icon heavily mentioned in the Biogenesis affair. The New York Yankees Third Baseman’s name was first mentioned last year. In his case, there were even implications of hormone injections that occurred at the slugger’s residence. We can’t help but to note this resemblance to allegations of Roger Clemens who reportedly received injections, along with his wife, at their residence.

Alex still has approx. $114 remaining on his contract though his business relationship with Yankee management has deteriorated to ’sub zero’ status. Media has shown angry tweets exchanged between Yankee management and A-Rod that were fueled by last year’s poor field performance. There are questions whether a full suspension is required to nullify A-Rod’s contract or whether a partial suspension would suffice.

Scandals are truly messy and the rehabilitative process may be overload for fans, players, and regulatory bodies to sit through. Major League Baseball, and other pro sports around the globe, face this ongoing problem of PEDs. Frankly, it took too long for league officials of baseball, American and international football (futbol), cycling, tennis, swimming, etc… to acknowledge that their star players were addicted to performance enhancing drugs. Supporters of PED use claim that the public does NOT care whether their players juice. To the contrary, we find that the public still wants a truly exceptional athlete and not a player who’d become mediocre without his/her steroid fix.

Administrator
Courtesy ESPN and FOX Sports

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