Friday, July 31, 2009

Stop With the PED Leaks!

So, this is the first post that really combines the two big subjects of this blog. While it hasn't been all that big in the news, at least here in L.A., it came out today that both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are allegedly among the 104 players who tested positive for some sort of performance enhancer back in 2003.

This is the same group that includes Alex Rodriguez, as released by New York Times "journalist" and lover of the unnamed "source" Selena Roberts in an attempt to sell her book.

Here is my take: I don't care where one falls on the issue of steroids in baseball (I personally take the stance that steroids have little, if anything to do with hitting a home run) this is really a legal matter.

Remember, the 2003 testing was done pursuant to a contract with the MLBPA (baseball's player's union) that all positive tests and the players who tested positive would be kept completely confidential. The whole point of the 2003 testing was to see just how bad the problem was (it wasn't as bad as the late, troubled slugger Ken Caminiti or all-time rat Jose Canseco said). That is the reason the contract was to keep testing confidential, to prevent the players who were voluntarily coming forward to be tested from facing sanction in the public eye.

Now, apparently "unidentified" lawyers have come forward saying that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez appeared on the list. By and large, the general public has no idea what lawyers do or how the law actually works, but I think people get what contracts are and understand that if you don't live up to the contract, that is a breach. Since this contractually confidential list is being leaked, albeit slowly like air from my car's left rear tire during the summer, that means Major League Baseball has breached their contract to keep these test results confidential and the players are being damaged. One can argue that Manny really won't suffer more damage given his suspension for the use of hCG (which is not only used as a "female fertility drug" or a post-steroid cycle kick start as made up by the media), but Ortiz and Rodriguez have taken huge hits.

Now, I don't really care much about Alex Rodriguez. I have personally thought the guy is an asshole since I met him at the 2003 Mr. Olympia contest. Still, a contract is a contract. Ortiz, however, is the kind of guy I do feel sorry for. He has done nothing but work hard at his craft, do great things for the Boston community and help bring those long suffering fans two World Series' titles (though Manny probably deserves more credit). Not only has his reputation been destroyed, but he may not have tested positive for anything in particular.

See, Ortiz came forward and issued a statement that shows that he both didn't know till now that he tested positive, and he has no idea what for. That is quite interesting, given that "steroid tests" really aren't tests for specific steroids. They are either tests for a lopsided testosterone/epitestosterone ratio (generally accepted outlier is 4:1, though some will naturally produce levels at or higher than this, especially very athletic people) or for metabolites of a specific anabolic steroid. The former generally are used to detect the use of some direct testosterone use, the latter for things like Nandrolone Decanoate (famously marketed as Deca Durobolin) which isn't actually testosterone and isn't often used by tested athletes because metabolites remain up to 18 months after cessation. False positives for Nandrolone are also alarmingly common, as noted here and can be caused by both the consumption of legal and healthy creatine monohydrate (or whatever form one may take) and the amino acid lysine, which is both a vital branched chain amino acid and indicated for fighting cold sores. It is entirely possible that Ortiz may have give a false positive, given that no athlete in their right mind would use nandrolone under the threat of testing.

In any case, I don't care if any of these guys tested positive. This is particularly true because if a fat drunk like Babe Ruth or a pipsqueak like Mel Ott could hit home runs with a higher mound and fewer teams, it is reasonable to think there is far more to clobbering a baseball than being a 'roid head. My issue is that this testing was intended to both protect players and allows baseball to tackle an issue it needed to in the public eye. The players did this under the impression, legally and morally, that they would be protected from garbage like this. If people are allowed to willy nilly breach contracts simply because the public has some unhealthy need to break down baseball players because they are rich and more athletically gifted, imagine what other rationale could be given? Airlines telling you to piss off at the gate because they overbooked and not giving you any compensation? Landlords breaking leases because they feel like it? The government ignoring the Constitution because it is inconvenient (oh wait, they already did that)?

Shame on the people who leaked this. I hope Ortiz, Ramirez, and even A-Rod sue the pants off these "lawyers" and Major League Baseball. Shame on the public for feasting on it.

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