Sports Law Blog
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Thursday, December 13, 2007
OVERHYPED AND UNDERWHELMED
After all that, this is what the fuss was about? Let’s take a deep breath and consider this Report by George Mitchell which ESPN headlined “Culture Shock.” A few facts would be nice.
First, despite what Mitchell says, baseball had no policy or regulation expressly banning steroids until September 2002, did not have testing with penalties until 2004 and did not ban HGH until 2005. Should Mark McGwire, for example, be vilified for taking androstenedione, a supplement that produced testosterone, when it could have been bought at the time over the counter by anyone and, of course, did not violate MLB rules?
Second, Mitchell did not test anyone, relied mostly on the word of New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski and hearsay from anonymous sources, and yet accused dozens of players by name of taking or using these drugs. Can you imagine any other professional endeavor or class of individuals subjected to such treatment? It is one thing if a player tests positive under rules he knows about and quite another to accept the unsworn testimony of a clubhouse staffer no one had the opportunity to cross examine.
Third, does anyone believe any player has made it to the major leagues who would not have if he had not taken such substances or that anyone is not in the professional ranks because he chose to abstain? Would Bonds have been passed over for any of his MVP awards without Balco’s products; would ARod have hit in the playoffs if he had used them?
Fourth, while the multi-million dollar Report provided a few big names such as Clemens, Pettitte and Tejada, most of the names were fairly mediocre players no longer in baseball. What good did it do to sully the reputation and integrity of these guys? What a low class shot for Mitchell and his law firm to take at athletes who played a few years, made a few bucks, and retired. Can we survey the associates at DLA Piper and see whether they have ever taken performance enhancing drugs to stay up for an all nighter or to party into the night?
Why does the public and the media continue to impose standards and rules on professional and college athletes no one else would stand for?
The hypocrisy is deafening.
Between innings, we listen to advertisements selling drugs to help us sleep, be less depressed, concentrate in school, have better sex, and degrunge our toe nails.
Colleges make millions off the sweat and hard work of their athletes in an archaic system that makes the Confederacy look like the beacon of free enterprise, all on the overstated promise that if they improve their performance they have a good shot at making millions themselves.
And now we are to be shocked and up in arms that a small minority of professional baseball players may have used artificial means to perform better.