MLB drug policy fatally flawed

MLB drug policy fatally flawed
August 23, 2012, 7:58 pm
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Departing from yesterday's theme of reveling in the Bay Area's reclaimed place atop the performance enhancers' throne, let us today tackle the slightly serious question of whether baseballs drugs policy is working in the wreckage of the Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon suspensions.And so you don't have to work too hard at it, let us use this handy catch-all answer:Its never worked, It will never work. It's not designed to work. The wrong people are implementing it, therefore it cannot work.And most importantly, lets provide the real reason it cannot work because nobody knows what works means.Does it mean no more positive tests ever? No, because there will always be players who look for the envelope to see the best way to push it. If there are no more positive tests, that means baseball has essentially stopped caring, and that will happen the next time there is a fiscal or artistic crisis in the sport.Does it mean hundreds of positive tests? No, because there will never be hundreds of positive tests as long as baseball is in charge of the results. Without independence and transparency as provided by an outside agency, any testing regime is flawed on its face, can be used to punish players as well as help them, and always is controlled by management, whose own responsibility in this area is conveniently forgotten or ignored.RELATED: Positive tests -- A look at the five players caught in 2012 using PEDs
Drug testing will work when players and teams fear the punishment more than crave the reward, and right now the punishments are insignificant in comparison to the rewards. Take Cabrera: He bet a one-year contract against a possible five-year contract and 4 million to make 70 million. The pot odds alone are too good not to keep playing the hand.But while we hear a great to-do about increasing the penalties on players, the notion of punishing organizations to negate the benefits of PEDs is never brought up. Ever. Its like we want to think theyre just victims in a cruel game set up by the athletes, which is an idiocy of the first magnitude.Put another way, did you ever hear about the team that returned a percentage of its profits from the steroid era of the late 90s? No, because it never happened. The teams kept every dime you gave them, and the prices they jacked up to meet the demand meant they kept every dime and then some.Now if you really truly want to know when the drug policy in baseball will work, get the correct answers to these questions (and because were swell folks here, weve given you the answers to help you study for the test):1. Are the people in charge of doing the test and releasing the results independent, and devoted to transparency? Chances of this happening are minimal if for no more compelling reason than someone has to pay for the tests, or if the results arent to their liking, stop paying for the tests. But lets go with the fantasy.2. Do the people in baseball understand that the drug fight will go on forever, because chemists always have the home-court advantage? Some, maybe, but many would be just as fine with ignoring it completely because drug detection costs more money than drug ignorance.3. Will the players be suspended for not games but years? Lots of tub-thumpers and moralists like this a lot because its easy to understand and provides a nutritious and delicious scapegoat on a slow news day. Plus, it can be negotiated inside a collective bargaining agreement even while the CBA is in force.4. Will the owners be fined in the millions for each player they employ who tests positive, seeing as how they benefit from the deeds the drugs allegedly enhance? This has never been mentioned because, well, because rich folks in suits work very hard to stay out of that particular debate. But if drugs are the scourge they are purported to be, all the ill-gotten gains should be seized, should they not?Until these conditions are met, the drug policy is not a success except as a way to cure a slow news day. A lot of people get to call athletes dumb for getting caught. A few people get a moment of notoriety for suggesting that Derek Jeter should be suspected of drug use based on the fact that he exists. And fans of teams whose chances for glory were impaired by rivals drug-enriched players get to complain over that fourth beer.In other words, this isnt really a drug policy at all. Its entertainment, and grist for the mill, and something to kill time with until something more salacious comes along.And something always does.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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