Fixing baseball’s embarrassing problem

August 7, 2009

bondsaster“The cat – mmrrrooowwwrr – is out of the bag!” – Seinfeld’s Cosmo Kramer upon the realization that his first name had finally been revealed.

Alex Rodriguez (click link for video), Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are among the players linked to performance enhancing drugs. The cat, is most definitely out of the bag.

When MLB players agreed to participate in a 2003 test survey to see if baseball did indeed have a PED problem, the players were assured that the results would be kept confidential. However, after the results were seized by federal agents during the BALCO investigation, some of the names that tested positive have been outed.

The question now, is what to do? Instead of a new name being leaked every few months followed by the inevitable, ensuing debate on what needs to be done to fix the problem, it’s time for baseball to deal with this once and for all.

How about this for a solution — after the conclusion of the 2009 World Series, Major League Baseball needs to hold a one-week grace period. Any player who has ever taken a banned substance during their professional career is allowed to come forward, admit to their foolish behavior and all will be forgiven. The ‘guilty’ will not have their records erased, or even asterisked. Their past indiscretions will not affect Hall of Fame eligibility. Their status will not be questioned by the media after this date. One week of hell for the player and then it’s over.

Too easy, you say. Why would any player admit to this when they’ve been able to skate by so far?

Here’s the catch. At the end of this grace period any player found using PED’s in the future, or if a positive test from the past surfaces, that is it. LIFE TIME BAN! No exceptions, no reprieves. You lose all rights as a ball player. The offending person is banned from ever playing, coaching or even being the team’s mascot.

To make this work, MLB will have to set-up special PED division. It will have an up-to-the minute list of banned substances and experts on hand for consultation. If a player wants to take cold medication or some form of creatine powder, they should be able to contact this office at any time and get an immediate ruling on a product. If this PED division ok’s a substance, a player can take it knowing that they’ll be fine. No more excuses from players saying they took a banned substance unknowingly.

Is this solution perfect? Of course not. But baseball has to act, and act quickly.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Barry Bonds was Crucified by the so called baseball purist and Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, are Welcomed with open arms.

Barry was Insulted, Threatened and his Family’s Lives Threatened, Needles Thrown at him while playing.

Security for Barry went to an all time high and most of you low life’s said everybody else was Clean, including Roger The Roids Ranger Clemens.

MLB is Hypocritical, MLB Writers, MLB Fans and MLB Owners & CEO’s are [Terrible] and they all should be [Banned For Life]

Posted by Omni-Present:101 | Report as abusive

Hora De Hacer Algo En Beisbol (Time For MLB To Play Hardball) – Major League Baseball recently held its annual midsummer celebration of the game of hardball and, as usual, Dominicans were well represented on the All Star teams selected as the best of the best. The numbers are testament to the contribution the Dominican Republic makes to baseball, providing it with many of the top stars today.

But amidst the All-Star hoopla, the dark side of Dominican baseball continues to fester. Around the same time baseball was celebrating in St. Louis, the Yankees were voiding the contract of a young Dominican prospect who lied about both his age and his identity, and no fewer than 10 Dominican Summer League players were suspended for using performance enhancing drugs. Even Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig took note of the age falsifications during an All-Star address, saying, “That’s one of the areas we’ve got to get a lot better handle on. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the Dominican Republic. And we’re doing it.”

But not doing near enough. Now is time for Commissioner Selig to take action or Dominican baseball is going to crumble under its own weight; it is already a crisis in development, with the latest developments only adding fuel to the fire lit by Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez – and now David Ortiz – as well as the additional accusations of age and identify falsification by Dominican players.

Understand, baseball is a natural resource for the Dominican Republic, doing as much or more for the country than tourism, the leading industry. In fact, tourism feeds off the publicity generated by baseball. People who had never heard of the Dominican Republic know of the country because some of their favorite baseball players hail from here; many of them visit the country as a result. Baseball and the Dominican Republic cannot allow a public relations plus to turn into a nightmare.

Signings of players in the Dominican Republic have been slowed or put on hold by the questions about the legitimate age and identity of some players. Teams are conducting bone density scans to verify the age of some players and DNA testing is being ordered for others, with the players forced to bear the cost of testing unless results vindicate them.

The DNA testing itself raises ethical questions on a horrific scale. Ask yourself the question what might have happened if baseball had had DNA testing available when a young Lou Gehrig was coming up. What would the Yankees have done with the talented player if they had been able to determine he was predisposed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis? Once DNA information is obtained, no one can guarantee how is it used and by whom. That alone is dangerous.

But the ethics of DNA testing aside, baseball has already taken several to the head with regards to Dominican baseball players and, from what I understand, this is just the tip of the iceberg as scrutiny intensifies; that more age/identity falsification will be uncovered and more steroid users exposed, further undermining the integrity of Dominican baseball and the exceptional players it produces. I predicted several months ago that there was going to be a slow trickle of names made public from a 2003 steroids test, a test that was supposed to remain confidential. Sammy Sosa’s name recently popped up, and now both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are named.

Commissioner Selig needs to act now, appointing a high level commission, much as he did with the steroid issue, to study the problems and develop solutions. The Mitchell Report led to substantial changes in the way baseball addresses the use of performance enhancing drugs, but the problem is epidemic among Dominican players and will continue unless addressed head on, as will lying about age and identity.

A few years back, a group of Olympic athletes was asked if they would take steroids to assure Olympic glory even though it would result in certain death. Over 60 percent said yes. In a country where baseball is viewed by many as the only opportunity to escape poverty, I am willing to bet that the percentage of those willing to exchange baseball success for death would be even higher.

The commission Selig needs to announce today, and appoint within the next 30 days, should include people from Major League Baseball and Dominican baseball, as well as players (current and former), doctors, educators and representatives of the Dominican government whose role would be to protect the country’s natural resource of baseball. And part of the commission’s charge should be to promote and develop opportunities for the players for a life outside of and beyond baseball. If players realize that baseball is a single opportunity but other opportunities are available, they might realize that risking their lives by taking steroids, or getting caught up in the lies of age and identity falsification, are just not worth it.

The Dominican Republic gets so much from baseball and baseball gets too much from the Dominican Republic to allow the situation to deteriorate further; at some point it becomes irreparable. Commissioner, you have the power to see that that does not happen. Time to step up to the plate.

Posted by Charles S. Farrell | Report as abusive

Call me the liberal of all MLB rules. I think its just ridiculous for anyone to believe that none of the players at one time or another “juiced up”. However, so be it, consider yourself lucky. But all MLB has to do now is create a policy and make sure that the players adhere to it. Should we crucify every player who gets caught on a first offense? Everyone wants to talk about Manny, well he served his punishment, admitted to it, so let it go now! On the other hand, Barry knew what was going on and “denied” he ever took anything. Thats the difference!

Posted by Gil Garcia | Report as abusive

Hey Omni, the reason Bonds was given such a hard time is because he’s a jerk first and a ‘roid user second.

Posted by Biff | Report as abusive

I think it’s now painfully obvious that, despite your contention that baseball will have to act “fast,” baseball does not intend to act at all. Whatever the fans do about players who cheated — boo them, disregard their teams, stop paying exorbitant prices for tickets, turn off their TVs — will be all that happens. Baseball will continue to pretend that NOTHING has happened.

Posted by NatetheGrate | Report as abusive

how can i compete when i have come to find out that it seems all athletes use some sort of steroid and i dont believe in that. I do use HGH though

Posted by princelandon | Report as abusive