Jeff Passan wrote one of the year’s most biting and accurate columns yesterday, discussing the World Anti-Doping Agency’s recent criticism of MLB’s reluctance to use the HGH blood test that they have developed. WADA tends to issue one of these edicts every couple of months, and anti-steroid crusaders tend to point to those proclamations as proof that MLB is still way behind most sports in their testing program. What many do not realize, and what Passan highlights, is that WADA has their own interests here that have nothing at all to do with maintaining the purity of sport:
In a press release disguised as a concerned letter, WADA president John Fahey chastised MLB and the players’ association for not using blood testing to detect human growth hormone. Nowhere did Fahey mention that the reliability of these tests remains in question six years after WADA first suggested their use. Nor did Fahey admit the organization’s real motivation: to leverage MLB into fattening WADA’s coffers with its multimillion-dollar-a-year testing program…..
Fahey lives in a fiefdom where an employer’s right to stick needles in its employees is a fait accompli. Such decisions take nuance and discussion, and they certainly shouldn’t be the domain of dogmatists who profit from the testing.
Proper drug detection in professional American sports is not done in a vacuum. Whereas most Olympic athletes lack unions and find themselves easy prey for WADA and its compadres-in-corruption at the IOC, American athletes are shielded from unilateral enforcement. It’s not all about snuffing out the cheaters, nor is it about protecting civil rights at all costs. There is a place in between, one that values a sport’s integrity as well as its athletes’…..
It’s no surprise WADA keeps attacking MLB while letting other professional leagues skate. The NBA and NHL pour tens of millions of dollars into the Olympics by allowing their athletes to participate, and the NFL plays enough pattycake with WADA to stave off public interference.
Essentially, WADA continues to sully MLB in the press because unlike the other major sports, baseball has refused to pour money into the WADA coffers. It is very easy for WADA to insist that players concede some of their basic civil liberties in order to make them richer, but the league needs to be more prudent. As Passan notes, this is a very touchy issue in which a middle ground must be found in order to protect both the athletes and the sport. Simply implementing an unreliable test that would represent a greater infringement on the privacy of players in order to satisfy the curiosity of the public and the whims of WADA would be a terrible decision. Thankfully, MLB and the MLBPA have shown no such inclination.
Major League Baseball has the most stringent testing program in all of American professional sports. Hopefully, they continue to ignore WADA and do what is best for both the sport and its players.
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