SBD/Issue 98/Leagues & Governing Bodies

The A-Rod Story: Is Union To Blame For Not Destroying Old Tests?

Many Feel MLBPA To Blame For Rodriguez'
Being Linked To Positive Tests In '03
The MLBPA is "to blame" for allowing Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez’ name to be leaked to Sports Illustrated as one of the 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in ’03, as the union “could have destroyed the tests,” according to Jeff Passan of YAHOO SPORTS (2/7). In N.Y., Michael Schmidt writes Rodriguez' test sample from '03 "could have been legally destroyed late that year" by the MLBPA, along with "all other anonymous samples from that season." And the '04 testing "continues to be the subject of questions about whether some players were given notice by the union that they were about to be tested" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/9).The AP's Tim Dahlberg noted the tests were "supposed to be destroyed, and the players never named." But two of the biggest names in baseball -- Barry Bonds and Rodriguez -- "have now been outed, and you can only wonder how nervous some current and former players are as the battle over the samples is waged in court" (AP, 2/7). Former MLBer Todd Jones wrote, "This was supposed to be a 'totally anonymous' test. MLB told us this was a fact-finding test only. The results were to be used to determine if further steps should be taken. ... Collusion is alive and well. Ask the veteran players who are fighting the stigma of being tied to the steroid era. They are losing jobs to young guys who have been around since real testing started" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 2/7). Baseball HOFer Tony Gwynn said the MLBPA is "going to have to take responsibility and come up with some answers." Gwynn: "They convinced the rank-and-file to take tests. That nobody would find out the results. Well, why didn't they get rid of the tests? Nobody would ever find out the results" (USA TODAY, 2/9).

WHAT ABOUT OTHER PLAYERS ON THE LIST? In Boston, Tony Massarotti noted there reportedly were 103 other names on the list of players who failed the '03 test in addition to Rodriguez. Massarotti: "Who are the others? Why don't we know? ... We cannot help but wonder why certain sources selected Rodriguez's name from a list of 104 and streamlined it to the nation when 103 others effectively were ignored" (BOSTON.com, 2/8). Free agent P Curt Schilling Saturday on his blog wrote, "I’d be all for the 104 positives being named, and the game moving on if that is at all possible. In my opinion, if you don’t do that, then the other 600-700 players are going to be guilty by association, forever. ... It appears that not only was it 104, but three of the greatest of our, or any, generation appear to be on top of this list" (38PITCHES.WEEI.com, 2/7). In Dallas, Evan Grant wrote MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "need to convene another emergency meeting of the minds and make all the test results from 2003 positive." The union needs to "prevail upon those players named in those reports to make public apologies," and then MLB and the MLBPA "need to get to work as soon as possible on adopting an anti-doping policy in line with the strictest in sports today" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/8).

WHO WOULD HAVE LEAKED INFO? In N.Y., Thompson & O'Keeffe write under the header, "Who Ratted Out Alex Rodriguez?" The list of people who knew Rodriguez was on the list is "short: a scorned player or teammate, a rogue union official, a vengeful prosecutor or federal agent or even somebody close to the player himself." The Rodriguez test results "could only have come from a handful of organizations and people who had knowledge of the 2003 drug testing results" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/9). N.Y. Times columnist William Rhoden said of Rodriguez' test results being released, “If I’m the (MLBPA), I am incensed, I am enraged. I want to find out who leaked it, why you leaked it, get to the bottom of this. … Here’s your classic confrontation between the media -- we want everything out -- and the people who want their rights protected, who say, ‘Who did this to me?’” He added, “This goes to the very highest reaches of baseball” ("Today," NBC, 2/8). 

COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED: FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote, "Perhaps the union is getting a bad rap, but it has been on the wrong side of this issue at every turn. For years, union officials refused to acknowledge the extent of the steroid problem. ... We should never have learned that A-Rod tested positive, but now we know. His image, the union's image and MLB's image will not easily recover, no matter how much spin they all apply" (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/8). In Denver, Terry Frei writes, "The biggest miracle in all of this is that the A-Rod results didn't leak sooner. It's a betrayal they were leaked at all" (DENVER POST, 2/9). N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said of the union, "It turns out these guys can’t protect anybody. They’re incompetent in the terms of protecting their membership after trying to throw a human shield in front of them for the entire steroid era” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 2/8).

Report States That Orza Tipped A-Rod
Off To Upcoming Drug Test
UNION JUNCTION: In N.Y., John Harper writes the negligence of Fehr and MLBPA COO Gene Orza is "ultimately responsible for outing Alex Rodriguez, and surely others to follow." Harper: "Isn't it time they pay a price for their transgressions? Isn't it time someone made them disappear? If only someone could." It is "likely to get messy again, and scary for players whose names are on that list," as players have "rarely challenged Fehr and Orza in public, or even in meetings behind closed doors." One former MLBer said, "It would take an organized movement. And players aren't going to want to get involved with something like that" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/9). In Houston, Richard Justice writes MLB players "should be angry" that Fehr "fought testing at every turn and seemed committed to allowing players to do whatever would make them the most money." Justice: "Nice going, Donald. You should be proud. Your reputation is toast, too. If you had an ounce of decency, you would get out" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/9).

TIPPING THE PITCH: The SI report claims Orza tipped Rodriguez as to when drug tests would be issued in September '04. In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell wrote by doing so, Orza was "either trying to rig the results of those 'surveys' to protect the entire flock of drug cheats in baseball or he was seeking to individually protect" Rodriguez. Instead of "trying to rid baseball of designer drugs," the MLBPA was "actively keeping the drug era alive and prospering." Orza and Fehr "can no longer be trusted, and that spells trouble for baseball's most powerful men." Burwell: "What happens now, when the tie that bound the union together for so long -- unquestioned and unshakable trust -- is now exposed as a flimsy sham?" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/8). MLB Network’s Bob Costas said of Orza tipping players, "You say what you want about the union and whether you disagreed with some of their positions, but they were always scrupulously honest. You never caught them in a lie. You never found them in any sort of impropriety in terms of the basic agreement. ... Donald Fehr and Gene Orza were always above reproach when it came to that. This is serious, not just for the particulars of this but for what it says for the union’s position overall on this issue” (MLB Network, 2/7).

DAMAGING CLAIMS: SI.com's Tom Verducci wrote the allegations that Orza tipped off Rodriguez "could be extremely damaging, threatening the gains in trust" MLB and the MLBPA "have made over the years." The report "has to be shocking to MLB, to think it thought it had a partner in good faith negotiations to clean up the game, only to read the union is actively protecting possible drug cheats." The report "potentially has enormous implications" (SI.com, 2/8). The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair writes the MLBPA "should never be in the position to play sheriff, but it damned straight ought not to be an abettor, either" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/9). CBSSPORTS.com's Scott Miller wrote the best the union could offer on the subject of performance-enhancing drugs was "ignorance ... at best, outright negligence at worst." Orza as recently as '04 "compared steroids to cigarettes." And if Orza "shouldn't have been tossed overboard for stupidity and arrogance then, he should be now with the report that he systematically was tipping players back in '03 of when the testers would arrive" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/7). On Long Island, Ken Davidoff wrote Orza should be in trouble for tipping Rodriguez. Davidoff: "Will he be? Only if the union's constituency demands change" (NEWSDAY, 2/8). In S.F., Ray Ratto wrote, "Nobody within the baseball establishment is to be trusted on this issue. Ever, in any context. Not Bud Selig or his 30 bosses. Not Don Fehr or the union hierarchy. Not the players, not the media, nobody." Ratto: "We deal here with an industry -- sports, not just baseball -- that isn't really all that keen about addressing the problem because the industry knows that such a war will never end" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/8).

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