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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Proposed Three-Prong Anti-Steriod Strategy for Baseball

University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt has a good post over on Freakonomics that discusses a plan by Aaron Zelinsky (who last week on our blog wrote a guest piece on steroids in baseball) for a three-prong anti-steroid strategy for Major League Baseball.

Here is an excerpt from Professor Levitt's post discussing Aaron's idea;
Aaron Zelinsky, a student at Yale Law School, recently proposed an interesting three-prong anti-steroid strategy for Major League Baseball:

1) An independent laboratory stores urine and blood samples for all players, and tests these blood samples 10 years, 20 years, and 30 years later using the most up-to-date technology available.

2) Player salaries are paid over a 30-year interval.

3) A player’s remaining salary would be voided entirely if a drug test ever came back positive.

I’m not sure about points 2 and 3, but there is no question that point 1 is essential to any serious attempt to combat the use of illegal performance enhancers. The state-of-the-art in performance enhancement is the best set of techniques that cannot be detected using current technology. So, by definition, the most sophisticated dopers will evade detection, unless they are unlucky or make a mistake.

For the rest of the post, click here.


As usual, the punishments fall entirely on the players, leaving owners, managers, trainers, and teammates, many of whom might have been enablers or at least consciously ignorant of the problem, untouched.

That's not to say that a team that has a PED user should be automatically punished, but it is to point out that there's more culpability here than just on the individual users. The story of how PEDs were tacitly accepted by the owners to help baseball's recovery from the 1994/95 strike has been told before, but it seems that some are forgetting it (or, like Aaron Zelinsky, are perhaps too young to remember).

Blogger Jason Wojciechowski -- 1/24/2008 10:28 AM  

Here is an alternative thought.

How about a forward-looking policy where MLB club owners agree to fine any club a certain amount of money each time one of that club's players tests positive for performance-enhancing drug use.

This approach shifts the burden from the players to club owners to deter performance-enhancing drug use. It also is a forward-looking policy in the sense that rather than punish past behavior, it enocurages club owners to make independent hiring decisions based on their perceived belief that individual players will follow the anti-drug policy.

In the ideal world, the money collected in fines from team owners would then be used to fund costs of drug education programs, both within MLB and the broader baseball world.

Blogger Marc Edelman -- 1/24/2008 12:42 PM  

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