Daid Pinto points out what all of the major media outlets have conviently forgotten: Drug testing is an inexact science.
…. Let’s take testosterone as an example. It’s a banned substance under the CBA (see page 160 of the CBA, page 171 of the PDF). Here’s a research paper on the subject of developing a new way of testing for exogenous testosterone use. You see, you can’t test for testosterone (T) directly, because we all make testosterone naturally. The standard test looks at the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone (E). The ratio (T/E) should be about 1.0. The IOC used a cut off of 6.0 for the Los Angeles Olympic games. But, as the paper reports:
The overall incidence of urinary T/E in the general population of healthy males not abusing steroids is <0.8%
In other words, .8% is the upper bound of how many people are going to test positive for testosterone abuse falsely. In other words, if you test 1000 baseball players using this criteria, 8 may come up positive, even if no one is using steroids!
And then what’s gonna happen? Which sportswriter will defend a player who claims he is clean? How will any player who tests positive ever clear his name? Think about this for a second.
Let’s say, for instance, that Barry Bonds just happens to have super testosterone levels. Would you be that surpised that a super athlete has elevated levels of testosterone? I wouldn’t. How will this issue be handled? Who will have the authority to review the drug tests and decide if a player has violated the policy? What manner of controls will be used?
It is a widely-recognized fact that in international cycling, EPO (a doping agent that increases the blood’s ability to carry oxygen) is used by just about everyone, because of just this kind of problem. In this paper on the subject, the writer explains that the same type of problem exists with these tests; that there is no way to determine whether a person has higher levels of (in the case of EPO) hematocrit than the tests allow for. Consequently, most cyclists manage their hematocrit levels to keep them just below the threshold. Otherwise, they cannot compete.
Steoids are a different type of performance-enhancer, understood. But the fallibility of the tests is what we’re talking about. How will MLB handle this problem? I can almost hear Orza and Fehr telling the players, “Are you sure this is what you want? Because there ain’t no do-overs here?” If things went the way Buster Olney likes to think they did, this is one of those situations when the lawyer is over-ruled by the mis-informed client.
Slippery slope? We’re just getting started. Wait until some player Mike Lupica thinks is the epitome of class and integrity tests positive. Think along the lines of a Derek Jeter or an Alex Rdoriguez. Wait’ll something like that happens.