Alex Rodriguez May Prove How Pointless Baseball’s Drug Testing Program Really Is

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(Credit: AP)

(Credit: AP)

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is still using the threat of a lifetime ban as a carrot to bring Alex Rodriguez to the table to negotiate a suspension for his ties to Biogenesis, the Miami anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied at least 20 players with performance enhancing drugs. But even if it’s a negotiating tactic right now, Selig may eventually pursue a lifetime ban for Rodriguez, and baseball has a trove of evidence against him, including that he was using performance enhancing drugs for at least three seasons, the New York Daily News reported today:

MLB is believed to have hundreds of emails, text messages and phone records that show Rodriguez engaged in performance-enhancing drug use in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and possibly longer, and that he and his representatives impeded Selig’s investigation.

I’ve written before why fans and the MLB Players Association shouldn’t want a lifetime suspension for A-Rod, but for now, let’s focus on the fact that Alex Rodriguez, at least according to MLB’s supposed evidence, used performance enhancing drugs for at least three seasons without failing a single drug test. If that’s true (Rodriguez denies that he’s used PEDs since 2003), it would seem to render baseball’s drug testing program rather pointless. If a player like A-Rod can juice for three years and pass every test, don’t we have to ask how many other guys have been using for that long without failing but weren’t dumb enough to get their drugs from a crank doctor who wrote every transaction down in a notepad? Don’t we have to ask how many are still using drugs that aren’t detectable in baseball’s urine and blood tests and therefore passing the two scheduled tests and the other random tests they undergo each season?

That’s the nut of this entire episode: baseball can try to rid the game of Alex Rodriguez if it really wants to, and it and the union can set due process and collective bargaining aside in the process if that’s really what they want to do too. But none of that is going to rid the game of drugs, and none of it is going to answer any of the questions posed above. Rather, it’s going to convince Selig, the players, the media, and the fans — all of whom spent at least a decade ignoring rampant steroid use before this testing program started — that the game is cleaner. It’ll make everyone feel good, but if baseball actually cares about a clean game, it might try to find a solution that will accomplish more than good feelings. Otherwise, we can just continue with the charade and keep feigning shock every time one of these scandals breaks.