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…. Where we’re at

MLB and the Players Association have come to terms on a revised drug testing program, as reported in this SF Chronicle article. It’s important to note that amphetamines aren’t on the list of drugs being tested for; meaning that the people responsible for putting this thing together have their eye on two things, punishment for offenders stupid enough to get caught; and public relations. Murray Chass also chimes in, and this Daily News piece notes that …. World Anti-Doping Agency board member Gary Wadler called the lack of action on amphetamines, “ridiculous. The most classic of all studies ever done in doping was on amphetamines. It clearly is performance enhancing.”

Noted steroids expert Charles Yesalis had this to say about the new policy:

I’m actually bothered by this. I’m not bothered by what baseball’s doing, but by how it will be perceived. I think it could do a lot of damage, depending on how many people buy into the facade. I fear journalists will write about this as if it’s a cure-all and won’t be critical about it, and that will hurt the overall effort. If BALCO has taught anybody anything, it’s that there are huge, gaping loopholes in testing programs. People are going to think baseball’s clean again, and I think that would be utter nonsense.

Dr. Yesalis and experts like Mr. Wadler feel that the only fair way to police the sport would be to monitor the athletes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So that’s where we’re at. It’s not enough, again. It wasn’t enough that 80% of all players surveyed said that they wanted testing (a sure sign that the so-called rampant performance-enhancing scandal was much less of a problem then we were led to believe by noted researchers Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco). It wasn’t enough that the union and baseball came up with a drug program that sought to handle any failed drug tests in private (an outrageous affront to sportswriters, writers who, interestingly enough, don’t have to publicize their own drug and alcohol issues). And now, it’s not enough that first-time offenders get suspensions and testing is year-round and there are more drugs on the list.

It’ll never be enough. It’ll never be enough, until every single thing ingested, drunk or inhaled is videotaped, analyzed and monitored by every single athlete in the sport, every single day they are involved with the sport. The hell with the baseball players Constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy or to be held as innocent until proven guilty. The sport must be cleaned up! You get the torches, I’ll get the pitchforks, let’s get ‘em!

I’ll tell you what. This slippery slope involves way more than baseball players, or athletes, or sports. We, living in a country that looks at itself as the leader of the free world, seem to have lost our way. So much time and energy is wasted on finding and punishing tiny little transgressions; while so many more important problems are ignored. The War on Drugs is but one, highly publicized example, but more and more, it seems to me that it’s all a big smokescreen; that the powers that be are actively distracting us from noticing what they’re involved in, what they’re doing. We must find and punish baseball players who sacrifice and risk their lives for a sport. I mean, talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

The notion that you can control people’s lives and decisions to that degree is absurd. You can’t, and you will never be able to unless all of us are willing to give up an enormous amount of our personal freedom. Are you ready to do that? I sure as hell aren’t.

Update: Here’s the ESPN report. It’s quite a bit more detailed. And here’s a sanctimonious and quite frankly, ridiculous column by Buster Olney, suggesting that the players deserve an apology from union leaders Gene Orza and Donald Fehr. Unbelievable.


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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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