Sunday, December 19, 2010

PED cloud will forever hang over baseball

The baseball players union finally prevailed in its long battle to force the government to destroy the list of more than 100 dirty players it has in its possession. Does this mean that the cloud of performance-enhancing drug usage is starting to dissipate for baseball? Not quite.

As the court battle dragged on, the list was well preserved as potential state's evidence, which means that at least a few government employees have seen it. Names have already leaked, including Alex Rodriguez, in what has been a slow, painful release of supposedly confidential information. And even though the government is giving up its legal fight, the employees already know who else is on the list. Could they be motivated to leak other names since they no longer have any hope that the list will come out through legitimate legal proceedings? Possibly. I wouldn't be surprised if we see some more names leaked in 2011.

Barry Bonds was already outed as a steroids user and his upcoming trial for obstruction of justice and perjury will bring a fresh round of PED revelations, especially if the government succeeds in putting other players such as Jason Giambi on the stand. Roger Clemens will also go on trial for perjury and obstruction of justice related to his 2008 Congressional testimony. Bonds' trial is set to begin on March 21, 10 days before the first regular-season game of the 2011 baseball season, with Clemens' trial due to begin in April. Can you imagine worse timing? Perhaps a postponement of either the Bonds or the Clemens trial that drags it through the 2011 postseason, overshadowing the best time of the year for the sport.

Moreover, as guys such as Bonds and Clemens become eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, the PED debate will resurface again and again as baseball writers, fans and critics all debate their candidacies. For me, there is no gray area on the PED issue. If a player has been caught using PEDs, there is no room for him in the Hall. It's not as black and white for other observers so the debate will rage on, bringing the PED story front and center for years to come.

So unfortunately, the dark cloud of PED use will continue to linger over baseball, with attempts to move on constantly disrupted by fresh revelations. It's something that baseball fans and officials will just have to find a way to live with.

Thanks to Kevin Rushforth via Wikipedia for the photo.

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