MLB Commissioner Bud Selig didn’t follow through with his threat to ban Yankee’s third baseman Alex Rodriguez from baseball for life, but his 211 game suspension without pay is certainly the most severe punishment ever sought by baseball for doping allegations. Rodriguez has denied any wrongdoing (of coarse) and is appealing his suspension. Meanwhile, the other MLB players, including All-Stars Nelson Cruz and Johnny Peralta, who are caught up in the Biogenesis scandal are quietly taking their 50 game suspensions.
Much has come out about the Biogenesis scandal since the story first broke in early January by the Miami New Times. Biogenesis was an anti-aging clinic that supplied HGH to MLB players and has been linked to NBA, NCAA, boxing and tennis players as well, although no formal actions have been taken in those sports yet. Most of MLB’s evidence linking athletes like Rodriguez to the clinic comes from a suit brought on by MLB against Biogenesis in which the names of several players, including Rodriquez, were disclosed. Rodriguez is getting hammered especially hard because he allegedly paid people to destroy evidence of his involvement in the clinic.
In addition to his connection to Biogenesis, Rodriguez also consulted BALCO founder Victor Conte for what both parties say were for legal nutritional supplements. Although some may raise their eyebrows as to what really transpired between baseball’s most infamous steroid supplier and Rodriguez, it makes sense that if Rodriguez were taking HGH or other PEDs, he would seek the advice of Conte on what nutrition and supplements work best with the drugs. But either way, this new revelation can’t look good in the eyes of MLB investigators who will paint a portrait of Rodriguez as someone who carouses with the steroid sect of sports.
Although much of the athletic world has condemned Rodriguez and the other players for their involvement with Biogenesis (fans have been booing Rodriguez at nearly every at bat he’s had since his appeal let him play ball again until final sentencing), there are a growing number of people who think it is time for baseball, and sports in general, to ease up on steroid restrictions. Steroid drugs can be seen as either a performance enhancing drug that helps players cheat their way to success, or as a useful medication to give strength back to a body damaged by injury and exertion.
It is fairly obvious by Selig’s harsh suspension given to Rodriguez which camp he is in. However, baseball has seen punishments come down before – denial of Hall of Fame status, lawsuits, game suspensions without pay, etc. – and yet players still take the risk of getting caught and take steroid drugs. It makes me wonder whether competitive advantage is the only motivation or if longevity in a sport that ravishes the muscles, joints and ligaments is a greater incentive. But until sports see the use of steroids as a medical tool to heal aging players and regulate their use by doctors, we can expect Selig and MLB to grow more and more angst over the steroid problem in baseball.