Choosing to skip the Democratic debate, I caught some of George Mitchell’s press conference on steroid use in baseball. Unsurprisingly, Mitchell found that use of steroids was “widespread,” and that MLB was slow to react, but that after it instituted random testing in 2002, steroid use dropped. The problem is, players then shifted to human growth harmone, which is undetectable in urine tests. He said that all 30 baseball teams had players who used steroids or other performance enhancing drugs at some point. He didn’t name names in the part of the press conference that I saw, but did in the report, and they’re already starting to trickle out.
Mitchell advised against disciplining the players unless their actions were very serious and doing nothing would hurt the integrity of the game. His reasoning was that many of the infractions detailed in the report are old news–from 2 to 9 years ago. Getting caught up in high-profile battles over disciplanary actions would complicate efforts to forge an agreement between players and owners to reform baseball’s steroid policy going forward. His recomendations have three parts: 1) Create a “Department of Investigations” that would look into allegations of use, especially because some substances remain undetectable. 2) Improve education as to the harmful effects of steroid use. 3) Extend the drug testing agreement, which gets trickier because it requires the approval of the Player’s Association.
All in all, a sad day for baseball, but hopefully it will create an oppourtunity to address this alarming problem.
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