The Latest Steroid Scandal in Baseball: Does it Matter?
Major League Baseball is being rocked by yet another scandal involving its players using illegal substances.
The latest episode centers around an anti-aging clinic in Miami, Florida called Biogenesis. The scandal broke in a Miami New Times investigative report on January 31, 2013, when the free weekly newspaper received confidential records from a former Biogenesis employee.
Biogenesis is linked to 20 current players including past MVPs Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and 2012 NL Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals. MLB has been marred by the prevalent use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) since the Mitchell Report issued on December 13, 2007 exposed the problem in MLB.
The league has since brought about sweeping changes including random drug testing and stiffer penalties for offenders. This latest incident has the potential to put a major dent in the issue of PED use in MLB for a variety of reasons.
The Biogenesis event differs from the Mitchell Report in a couple of ways.
First Biogenesis is current, meaning that all of the players are currently on MLB rosters. The big names in the Mitchell Report, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were in their 40s and arguably their careers were over as were many of the players named. Alex Rodriguez’ contract runs through the 2017 and he is still owed roughly $104 million. Braun is 29 years old and in the prime of his career and is signed with the Brewers until 2020. MLB is currently seeking 50 to 100 game suspensions which would involve both loss of game and loss of income penalties for the alleged offenders.
Secondly, many of the players mentioned, including Rodriguez, Gonzalez and Braun have not failed a drug test. MLB is seeking the suspensions based upon the testimony in a civil lawsuit of Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch. MLB is using this lawsuit to compel Bosch to testify against the current players.
This point is crucial. MLB is asserting its legal and financial muscle to expose the shadow figures that aid and abet players seeking an advantage. Unless a player has the ability to manufacture the product, players must rely on seedy characters to carry out the process of using PEDs. By cutting the head off of the snake, MLB is saying to players that they will use their muscle to eradicate this problem.
MLB fans have grown accustomed to players cheating the game, but still seem to support their favorite baseball jerseys regardless.
While the current Biogenesis issue does not have the shock value of the Mitchell Report, it does pose a major problem for current players named in the testimony. However this plays out, players cannot feel comfortable going down this path. Someone always seems to be willing to talk whether compelled by mounting legal issues or whether just to seek their 15 minutes of fame. Look for the game to continue to evolve, and the problem of PEDs to become less and less of a problem.