Fresh from not having any players inducted into the MLB Hall of fame, another scandal has rocked the baseball world. As if the first year of no living inductees since 1965 was not bad enough for our national pastime, a report from the Miami New Times which indicated several players received performance enhancing drugs from an anti-aging clinic in Florida.
Names such as Gio Gonzales, and Melky Cabrera were reported to have appeared on the list, as well as Alex Rodriquez. As if this was not bad enough 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun has appeared on the list as well. Braun who was successful in his appeal of a positive test for elevated testosterone is now claiming that he only went to the clinic for help fighting his positive drug test. A test which many believe he appealed successfully on a technicality.
Rather than dwell on the did he or didn’t he aspects of the story, I wanted to look at it from a larger perspective. On one hand, people say if Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and others played during an era when PEDs were rampant in baseball and not illegal under the games rules at the time, then why should they not be in the Hall of Fame?
Others such as myself take the stance that regardless of baseball’s rules, steroids were and are illegal in the country outside of a prescription so not only where players who used them cheating, they were possibly breaking the law as well.
Many debate just how much of a benefit using PEDs actually gives players but I think there is sufficient evidence that the boosts in strength and other benefits are sufficient enough to warrant their use and continued use for many players despite their risk to their health, career, and reputation should they be discovered as users.
Baseball has said they want to be tough on this subject, and to their credit they have done a better job with testing and suspensions for players after turning a blind eye to the issue for over a decade.
I think that if any of the players, especially Rodriquez are found to be guilty, then it is time to make a stance once and for all. Terminate their contracts, ban them from the game and leave them open to prosecution from local authorities as well as their teams who may wish to recoup monies paid to players while they were using.
I know this sounds drastic but look at it like this. Players who make millions do not fear a 50-100 game suspension as much as others lower down the salary list would. If your income is in excess of $20 million, losing half will not have the same impact as a player earning less than $5 million especially is said player has had years of upper income earnings and can receive income from investments and endorsement deals.
If you are paid to play a game at a clean level and you are found to have cheated, then you broke your contract. I know this is a simplification of what armies of lawyers will undoubtedly fight over in the coming months should the New York Yankees try to void the remaining money owned to Rodriquez.
If baseball is serious over this matter, then players need to know that the penalties for continued use and deception must go beyond suspension for repeated violators but include banishment.