Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez suspensions are witch hunt by MLB

Once again, MLB is completely botching the PED situation

6/5/13 in MLB   |   Pat   |   5232 respect

May 17, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun (8) bats against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. St. Louis defeated Milwaukee 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsThe latest bombshell surrounding performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball has been met with a mixed reaction. Some, like USA Today's Christine Brennan, are applauding MLB for taking a hard line on PED use.

Others are a bit more skeptical, like David Radcliffe of Yahoo!, who refers to MLB's latest actions as a witch hunt that they will eventually regret.

I tend to side with Radcliffe on this one. Major League Baseball has a pretty clear agenda, and it's not just cleaning up the game. They have made it clear that they intend to take down Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun by any means necessary.

Braun and Rodriguez have already been the subject of MLB investigations, and have both tested positive for banned in the past. Rodriguez's failed test occurred before the league had set up a proper punishment system, and Braun successfully appealed his suspension thanks to a mishandled urine sample.

MLB is clearly trying to nail these guys, since they view them as the poster boys of the latest wave of performance enhancing drugs.

Once again, MLB is completely botching it, just like they botched the PED epidemic almost two decades ago. Ironically, they're doing it the exact opposite way this time.

Aug 24, 2011; San Francisco CA, USA; San Francisco Giants former player Barry Bonds in attendance before the game against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIREWhen Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Brady Anderson, Barry Bonds and a plethora of others were hitting home runs at alarmingly high rates, MLB sat back and enjoyed the increased attendance. They completely ignored the obvious signs of PED abuse. Players were injecting anabolic steroids and the league did absolutely nothing about it.

Now, there's a new wave of performance enhancing drugs. In reality, the "steroid era" is over. Technically, that is. The PED Era has only just begun, however. Instead of the relatively common and well-known steroids of the past, players are now resorting to blood doping, testosterone enhancement, and other complicated methods of performance enhancement.

In her USA Today column, Christine Brennan says "History will judge this move as one of the most positive and aggressive yet in the fight against doping in sports."

Brennan's rose-colored outlook couldn't be further from the truth.

When Ryan Braun avoided his suspension for elevated testosterone levels due to a technicality, MLB had egg on their face and looked ridiculous. It brought into question every single step of their drug enforcement system, from testing to public relations. When they swung and missed on suspending Braun, they looked like a kangaroo court.

This latest circus will be no different.

This time, MLB is relying on testimony from Tony Bosch, the owner of a Miami wellness center. He has records linking many MLB players to the purchase of various banned substances. The problem, as spelled out by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, is whether or not Bosch's testimony will be credible enough to warrant suspensions.

Nov 10, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Former major league baseball pitcher Roger Clemens watches a game between the Texas Longhorns and Iowa State Cyclones in the first quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY SportsRosenthal points out that Braun, Bonds, and Roger Clemens all successfully fought allegations of PEDs and/or lying about them. In Clemens' case, much of the proof against him was brought forth by Brain McNamee. Bosch seems like McNamee v2.0, which doesn't bode well for MLB's side.

Major League Baseball has a pretty extensive drug testing program now, and their suspension system relies heavily on those tests. The fact that they're about to attempt to suspend up to 20 players without a single positive drug test among them (aside from Braun's already nullified test) speaks volumes about the ineffectiveness about their testing program.

If the MLB testing program wasn't able to nab these guys, how guilty could they possibly be? Should handwritten receipts with code names from a strip mall drug store owner be enough to suspend guys for 50-100 games and take away millions of dollars in salary?

You can be sure that the players will fight this tooth and nail, and it's going to be extremely difficult for Major League Baseball to carry through with their plans of suspending players.

More from Brennan's column:
"If MLB ends up suspending Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other players for performance-enhancing drug use due to its aggressive action against Tony Bosch, head of a South Florida wellness clinic, spectators in every ballpark should welcome the news.

Parents with teenagers in sports, boys and girls who studies show are already trying PEDs to play better, should be thankful that their kids will see the news of more athletes being disgraced by doping.
"

Again, I strongly disagree. No one should be thrilled at the news of Ryan Braun, one of the game's most exciting players, being suspended in a witch hunt by a bitter MLB. No one should welcome news that Alex Rodriguez, already rendered virtually irrelevant by injuries and declining skills, will have to sit out even more games. Hell, as far as Rodriguez goes, no one should even care at all.

Parents with teenagers in sports shouldn't celebrate the news that Major League Baseball is circumventing their own established drug enforcement program and using a shady drug dealer to go after their employees. There's no honor in that.

This is starting to become reminiscent of cycling, as referenced in a comment by Gearhead on this post, which is certainly not a good thing for MLB.

They've failed themselves before in the war on PEDs, and they're setting themselves up to fail again. This is going to get ugly.
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6/6/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

kobe_lova wrote:
I'm starting to think they do this on purpose ever season to attract even more attention to baseball. Why, I don't know since it saturates sports news already, but also does any fan care at all about PED use in baseball?

Great thought.....Americans are cynical right now. But Selig will make a mess out of this..

6/6/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

Do we want to equate these drugs to a cortisone shot that players get ie espinosa...

6/6/13   |   kobe_lova   |   61971 respect

(Edited by kobe_lova)

I'm starting to think they do this on purpose ever season to attract even more attention to baseball. Why, I don't know since it saturates sports news already, but also does any fan care at all about PED use in baseball?

6/6/13   |   Scott   |   53843 respect

Bud Selig and Major League Baseball are embarrassed that their drug testing has not completely taken PED's out of the game of baseball and by selling their souls to the devil that is Tony Bosch, they are looking to make an example out of these 20+ players.  Unfortunately, all this is going to do is wage an all out war with the union in a battle that neither side will win

6/5/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Yeah, that same players union that collectively bargained the only blood test for HGH in major American sports is covering up drug use! Who needs facts when union bashing anyway?

I am not backing down. Drug use is rampant in MLB. Period...Testing is ridiculous and easy to mask... Also there are other product available... Just as we see in the Biogenesis story.. So intimidation will not work...maybe you should read up on the union....better yet read up about the specific drugs that are used by today MLB players and how the drugs are masked...

6/5/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

(Edited by Eric_)

In all seriousness, of course we all want MLB, and every sport, to at least make an effort to curb PEDs. It's probably not as rampant as it was in the "Steroid Era," as the offensive numbers suggests. But look at this situation. MLB has:

1.) Purchased some flimsy evidence, that clearly didn't do it.
2.) Sued Bosch under shaky ground, but enough to tie him up financially, giving him an incentive to...
3.) Cut a deal between MLB and Bosch, making a guy desperate to avoid the feds and lawsuits the key witness.
4.) All to nail more of the biggest names in the sport.

Does this make any sense to anyone? I know there's a way to be suspended without a positive test, and if the evidence is overwhelmingly titled toward someone using, that's fine. This sure looks a lot more shaky than that. The result is going to be a mess that makes baseball look bad, thus my cycling comparison.

The way I see it:

1.) It's not as bad it was, but PEDs will never fully go away. Not in baseball, not in any sport.
2.) Baseball actually has one of the tougher testing programs (with the support of the union). It could be better, but it's a tough thing to stay anywhere close to.
3.) PEDs aren't as big a deal anymore as baseball thinks it is. Only sportswriters and a small percentage of fans get real worked up over it anymore.
4.) If any of that bothers you, I suggest you get over it.

6/5/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

orangemen90 wrote:
To me its the players union and the players that are all for covering up and drug use.. It appears that drug use in MLB is at an all time high..There is a huge upside with little risk.. The players are covering for each other each and every game,,,

Yeah, that same players union that collectively bargained the only blood test for HGH in major American sports is covering up drug use! Who needs facts when union bashing anyway?

6/5/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

To me its the players union and the players that are all for covering up and drug use.. It appears that drug use in MLB is at an all time high..There is a huge upside with little risk.. The players are covering for each other each and every game,,,

6/5/13   |   Trokspot   |   65 respect

food for thought (wrote this several months ago, but this seems especially relevant now):
http://trokspot.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/peds-the-big-picture/