For the past ten years, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has gone to great lengths trying to convince everyone that the “Steroid Era” is over and that it is now nothing more than a painful memory and a black eye on baseball history.
For that exact same ten years, I have argued and will continue to argue that not only is the Steroid Era not over, it never will be – at least not if things remain as they are.
Why do I feel this way, you ask?
Because no matter how many new tests that the MLB uses to detect PEDs, and because of how long it takes to get these new tests approved by the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA), they (the MLB and the MLBPA) will always be at least one step behind the advances in not only the development of new performance enhancing substances, but in the procedures to test for them.
Let’s face the cold hard facts here - today’s PEDs are nothing more designer drugs with two very specific purposes: one – to enhance performance; and two – to avoid detection. And because there is so very much money to be made by companies (and individuals) that develop these designer drugs, don’t look for them to stop doing so just because Bud Selig or MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner say so.
Before I continue, please understand that I respect the MLB and the MLBPA for taking steps to make using PEDS far more difficult than ever before, I sincerely do. But if both entities honestly believe that these steps are going to eliminate PED use in the MLB (and MiLB), they are only kidding themselves.
With the recent and devastating revelation that seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong cheated by using these designer PEDs, this in spite of him looking straight into the eyes of the American people and lying to them about it, I have to ask you a question: Are you surprised, I mean really surprised?
Armstrong’s great American lie is nothing more than yet another example (in its simplest form) that it’s ALL about the money in the form of risk versus reward, just as it is in major league and minor league baseball. Granted, the amount of that reward is far more transparent in the MLB because of the publicity that MLB players receive when they sign their multi-million dollar contracts and because of websites such as Cot’s; but I’d be willing to bet that the amount of money that Lance Armstrong received over his career (primarily through sponsorship endorsements) would probably rival the contract of Andre Ethier and perhaps even those of Matt Kemp and Zack Greinke. In other words, the reward far outweighed the risk for Lance Armstrong.
No sooner had I put this Lance Armstrong/Oprah Winfrey crap behind me when, boom! – here we go again.
On Sunday morning, ESPN.com reported that “Major League Baseball is investigating multiple wellness clinics in South Florida, as well as individuals with potential ties to players, armed with the belief that the region stretching 50 miles south from Boca Raton to Miami is “ground zero” for performance-enhancing drugs still filtering into the game.”
The ESPN.com report even named a few names, something that both the MLB and the MLBPA are unwilling to do (yet another reason why the Steroid Era will never end). The report claims that “Anthony Bosch, a self-described biochemist who most recently ran Biogenesis of America in Coral Gables. He long has had ties to the loosely regulated South Florida wellness industry, which pitches the promise of drugs to turn the scrawny to muscular and bring vitality to the tired and aged. ESPN reported in 2009 that Bosch, whose father, Dr. Pedro Publio Bosch, is a Coral Gables physician, wrote a prescription for a substance that led to the suspension for baseball star Manny Ramirez – an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the time.”
The ESPN report also stated that “The New York Daily News on Saturday first reported that MLB is investigating Bosch, whom the newspaper said had been an adviser to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.”
And here’s the kicker, folks – the worst is yet to come: “Because of the number of clinics, the MLB investigation is looking into several potential drug suppliers or networks, not a single source. The ongoing investigation could take well into the upcoming baseball season to complete, sources said, and officials remain unclear of the number of players that eventually may be involved.”
Until the MLB and the MLBPA impose penalties that actually deter players from even considering putting the rewards ahead of the risks, there will always be PEDs in professional baseball; penalties such as a one-year ban for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second, AND the immediate revocation of that player’s contract. The player should also receive the MLB minimum salary (which will only be $500,000 beginning in 2014) for a period of two years upon returning to the game after serving their one-year suspension. They should also be forced to renegotiate a new contract with the full understanding that they will not receive a penny should they test positive for a second (and final) time. In other words, the risk would become greater than the reward, as it should be.
The bottom line here is that contrary to the sunshine that Bud Selig and Michael Weiner are trying to shove up our… noses, the Steroid Era is NOT over, nor will it ever be unless changes such as these are in place.