It's always great when the NYT makes an appearance here on the blog. Provides a nice break from photos of a dog humping another dog wearing a Mike Vick jersey.
Anyway, the paper of record has a story that I don't really think will surprise anyone, but it speaks to the problems still facing baseball. Apparently MLB has continued to employ a drug-testing procedure that may allow players time to mask their use of performance-enhancing drugs. May allow? Oh, it allows, no question.
Drug testers contracted by the league routinely alert team officials a day or more before their arrival at ballparks for what is supposed to be random, unannounced testing of players. By eliminating the surprise factor, antidoping experts say the practice undermines the integrity of the testing program.
Something tells me those antidoping experts might be on to something.
Advance notice of only a few hours can provide the opportunity for a player to dilute their urine, use a masking agent or employ a device that allows them to fill their bladders with drug-free urine. Or if they're really pressed for time, they can use the Wizzinator.
The way this alert system works is that the night before testers arrive at major league stadiums to take urine samples from players, officials for the home team receive a call from the testing company requesting stadium and parking passes for the drug testers. This procedure is not outlined in the league’s 48-page testing policy, which baseball promotes as one of the toughest in sports.
That doesn't exactly sound real tough to me. In fact, in sounds like the testing companies and MLB teams are in cahoots.
According to Robert Manfred, baseball’s vice president for labor relations and the official who oversees the sport’s drug-testing programs, team officials are not supposed to tell players that tests will be conducted. But naturally that rarely happens. Multiple anonymous sources from MLB teams told the NYT they receive notice often as early as two days before a test and pass on the info.
Frankly, I don't care if guys are on performance-enhancing drugs or not, because sports are merely entertainment for the masses. But since I'm in the minority on that opinion, I guess I should advise MLB to get a little tougher and close this massive, glaring loophole. I think giving testers year round parking passes so they, you know, don't have to "wink, wink" call in advance for them would be a decent start.