There's a good chance you watched the "60 Minutes" report on Alex Rodriguez and the Biogenesis clinic (or read a recap of it) and were left feeling disgusted about all parties involved — from clinic owner turned whistle blower Tony Bosch to MLB and its any-means-necessary investigation tactics.
There's another thing you should have lost some faith in: MLB's drug-testing system.
Despite Commissioner Bud Selig's repeated proclamations that baseball has the best and most stringent testing program in all of pro sports, the underlying message in the "60 Minutes" report was that MLB's drug-patrolling system is flawed on numerous levels. This wasn't at the center of the report like the sexier details of A-Rod's PED use and the scary lengths to which his camp would allegedly go to protect him, but it was hard to ignore.
Alex Rodriguez never tested positive for anything, because he and Bosch — who isn't even a real doctor, mind you — worked out precise plans to beat MLB's drug tests. A majority of the players suspended in the Biogenesis scandal never failed a test either. Bosch told Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes" that it was "almost a cake walk" to beat MLB's system.
An even harsher reality: This man, Tony Bosch, was an MLB-aided witness going on national TV and undermining its drug program. MLB got into bed with Bosch because it wanted so badly to bust A-Rod. The league trotted him out on "60 Minutes" — on the night after an NFL playoff game on CBS, no less — to air this dirty laundry. Presumably we were all supposed to scoff at what a horrible human being A-Rod is and gloss over how MLB's drug testing system wasn't able to stop him. Only a paid-off witness and purchased documents were able to stop him. This is something MLB now has to own, because Bosch made it painfully evident and he's their guy. This is the league's collateral damage.
How are you, the average baseball fan, supposed to look at what's happened in the Biogenesis saga and believe that the game is getting cleaned up? Because that's what all this is about, right, cleaning up the game? It's not about nailing a couple of players that the Commissioner's Office had grown tired of being shown up by? (We haven't forgotten about you, Ryan Braun). This was all for the good of the game, right?
Many of us are waiting for the next shoe to drop in A-Rod's personal fall from grace. There's the federal court appeal, the will-he-or-won't-he talk about spring training. We're already sizing up where A-Rod's legacy ranks next to tarnished legends such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. But what's next for MLB's drug-testing program? Does it even have a chance? Or is it like a 12-year-old trying to hit an Aroldis Chapman fastball?
Even the fans naive enough to believe the tests were working before Bosch and "60 Minutes," now have to see the seedy part of baseball for what it is — an industry where authorities will constantly be playing catch-up to the cheaters. It's a lot like the war to stop online piracy of music and movies. The people doing the policing are always a step or two behind and by the time they figure it out, the culprits have moved on to the next thing that's harder to detect and tougher to stop.
A-Rod was able to take testosterone-boosting "gummies" before games, Bosch alleges, and be "clean" by the time the game was over. If that's true, we can't have 100% faith that anyone is clean anymore, no matter how many tests they've passed. You thought instant replay was going to slow down the game. We're going to have to test players before and after each at-bat, then hope they don't pop a "gummie" in their mouth while they're rounding second.
Do you find yourself wondering what would happen if baseball went the marijuana route, throwing up its hands like Washington and Colorado did, and saying the better way is to legalize and scrutinize? That, surely, would never happen in the foreseeable future. MLB is far too proud, its history far too important, to bow to the will of PEDs. And while there are a number of fans who might say, "just legalize everything," this isn't a democracy.
On FoxSports.com, Ken Rosental writes:
Baseball cannot give up, cannot condone PED use the way it did when the sport had no policy at all; fans would scream, Congress would howl and the message would be appalling.
No, baseball must continue fighting the good fight, just as it did after the 2012 season when it made significant changes to its testing program, implementing testing for human growth hormone and addressing fast-acting testosterone. There simply is no other choice.
Some experts suggest that drug testing is little more than public relations, a way for each sport to demonstrate that it is at least trying to keep its athletes clean. That is probably too harsh; testing surely deters some. But in the end, a player who wants to cheat will cheat – and avoid getting caught.
There are a lot of "what's going to happen to?" questions right now about the people at the center of the Biogenesis scandal. But what's going to happen to A-Rod or Bosch isn't anywhere close to as interesting (or important, really) as what's going to happen to drug testing in MLB — both the practices of it and the perceptions of it.
When the spectacle of this has gone away, that may wind up being A-Rod's legacy.
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