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SBD/Issue 100/Leagues & Governing Bodies
A-Rod Admission: Fehr Says Union Unlikely To Release More Names
Published February 11, 2009
|Fehr Says Anonymity Promised To Participants
In '03 Drugs Tests Should Be Honored
TUG OF WAR: In N.Y., Michael Schmidt reports the "most likely way more of those ... names will come out is if the federal government prevails in its legal battle to keep possession of the seized positive tests." If the government is allowed to keep the tests, prosecutors "plan to summon everyone, active and retired, who had positive samples in 2003 and ask them where they obtained the substances that they used." That information would "allow the prosecutors to go after their consistent target -- the distributors." And if testimony from those players is "used in government documents to obtain search warrants or charge individuals, their identities could become public." Those players "could also be called as witnesses at trials." The fact that this is a possibility "has created misgivings between" MLB and the MLBPA, and those misgivings have "come into focus in the days since it was disclosed that Rodriguez tested positive" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11). Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt said, "We need to find a way to clear the air on this because we have a new system in place and moving forward I think we’re in good shape. But, we can’t have this drip, drip, drip of everyday another piece of news that really soils the game" ("Hot Stove," MLB Network, 2/10). An MLB exec described the MLB-MLBPA relationship as "like a marriage." The exec: "You have rough patches, but you get through them." FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal writes this is "maybe the roughest [patch] since the 2002 labor negotiations." There is "mounting distrust between the two sides over baseball's free-agent market and drug-testing program, issues that were sources of contention in past labor disputes" (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/11).
NAMES NOT LIKELY ANYTIME SOON: Fehr said of the possibility of the remaining names becoming public, "There's a legally binding mandate that would prevent people from disclosing (the list). I would hope that people adhere to that." Fehr "expressed confidence that this issue wouldn't contribute to a future work stoppage." The CBA runs through the '11 MLB season, and Fehr said, "If we do (have tension in the next CBA negotiations), it's far more likely going to be over economic issues than drug-testing ones" (NEWSDAY, 2/11). SI.com's Michael McCann wrote it is unlikely the remaining names will be made public "for the foreseeable future," as for the MLBPA to "now release the remaining 103 names would violate the trust placed by players in union executives." Such a violation would "possibly expose the MLBPA to liability for breach of its duties," as the players "could suffer serious reputational damage if identified as a steroids user." While there are "multiple rationales for the MLBPA to preserve the confidentiality of the 103 names, there is at least one justification for it to release the information: Doing so would cease the skepticism directed toward numerous players who, over the last 48 hours, have become the undeserving targets of Internet and sports radio speculation as to whether they are among the 103." Along those lines, a player or group of players "could attempt to persuade, even force, the MLBPA to release the list." It also is "possible that players could pursue direct legal channels to force the MLBPA to reveal the names" (SI.com, 2/10).
Cashman Says Players Promised Anonymity
Should Not Have Their Rights Violated
PLACING BLAME: In Toronto, Richard Griffin writes under the header, "Positive Tests Shouldn't Come As A Surprise To Fans." The "biggest internal culprit" is MLBPA COO Gene Orza, who was "supposed to destroy all of the player samples after the numbers had been compiled and the agreement fulfilled." If Orza had done that, Rodriguez "would have remained merely a number," but Orza "always thought himself smarter than the rest." Orza "saved the samples, hoping to use any 'false positive' as the means to the end of drug testing" (TORONTO STAR, 2/11). In Philadelphia, Sam Donnellon writes Orza and Fehr "facilitated so much of this in the wild late-1980s and '90s, shielded the cheaters by blocking every attempt to institute a credible drug-testing policy, made them feel immune even from the kind of week that A-Rod is now having." Orza and Fehr "think they protected their constituency all those years," but "in truth, they damned them all" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 2/11). In Newark, Jerry Izenberg writes under the header, "MLB Players' Union Deserves To Take A Big Hit." Izenberg: "This is about ... Donald Fehr and Gene Orza from the players union. A union that is not a union but an insult to the uphill battle Marvin Miller waged against the baseball owners' plantation mentality. ... Maybe I'm missing something here, but unions are really supposed to protect their members" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/11).
Writer Says Execs Like Fehr (l) And Selig (r)
Don't Deserve Walks On Steroid Era
BLAST FROM THE PAST: ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick noted Miller has "defended the union's conduct and accused the federal government and major drug testing bodies of engaging in a 'witch hunt' against prominent athletes." Miller yesterday said that MLBPA leaders are "now paying for their biggest mistake -- the decision to bow to public and Congressional pressure and enter into an agreement with [MLB] to institute mandatory testing" in '04. Miller: "Everything I've read in the last few days is unfair and anti-union. But that does not mean I agree that (union officials) are without blame. When they agreed on a testing program, I said, 'They're going to regret this, because you're going to see players going to jail.' ... I would never have agreed to any testing program in the first place. There's no evidence that's plausible to justify testing people indiscriminately." Miller said of the government's involvement, "It's a witch hunt in baseball, for sure, but it also extends to cycling and the Olympics. And the victims are the athletes. They're obviously the ones being hunted down here." Miller added, "The media, without evidence, keep telling young people all over the country, 'All you have to do to be a famous athlete with lots of money is take steroids.' The media are the greatest merchants of encouraging this that I've ever seen" (ESPN.com, 2/10).
Writer Notes Boras' Biggest
Clients Have Been Sluggers