Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reason #1,235 to Hate Baseball

I have written previously about the time waste that sports has become. As an ex-athlete, it was not a pleasant thing to face that I was nothing but an entertainment tool, but that is what it has always been, going back to the days of the coliseums.

Still, it must be said for the gladiators that if nothing else they were at least honest killers who looked the way they did naturally. Here is my old sport of baseball, showing us resoundingly, yet again, why it is a brothel for millionaire cheats and drug addicts.

Sources tell SI Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003

By Selena Roberts and David Epstein

In 2003, when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated.

Rodriguez's name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball's '03 survey testing, SI's sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.

When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. "You'll have to talk to the union," said Rodriguez, the Yankees' third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, "I'm not saying anything."

Phone messages left by SI for players' union executive director Donald Fehr were not returned.

Though MLB's drug policy has expressly prohibited the use of steroids without a valid prescription since 1991, there were no penalties for a positive test in 2003. The results of that year's survey testing of 1,198 players were meant to be anonymous under the agreement between the commissioner's office and the players association. Rodriguez's testing information was found, however, after federal agents, armed with search warrants, seized the '03 test results from Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc., of Long Beach, Calif., one of two labs used by MLB in connection with that year's survey testing. The seizure took place in April 2004 as part of the government's investigation into 10 major league players linked to the BALCO scandal -- though Rodriguez himself has never been connected to BALCO.

The list of the 104 players whose urine samples tested positive is under seal in California. However, two sources familiar with the evidence that the government has gathered in its investigation of steroid use in baseball and two other sources with knowledge of the testing results have told Sports Illustrated that Rodriguez is one of the 104 players identified as having tested positive, in his case for testosterone and an anabolic steroid known by the brand name Primobolan. All four sources spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the evidence.

Primobolan, which is also known by the chemical name methenolone, is an injected or orally administered drug that is more expensive than most steroids. (A 12-week cycle can cost $500.) It improves strength and maintains lean muscle with minimal bulk development, according to steroid experts, and has relatively few side effects. Kirk Radomski, the former New York Mets clubhouse employee who in 2007 pleaded guilty to illegal distribution of steroids to numerous major league players, described in his recent book, Bases Loaded: The Inside Story of the Steroid Era in Baseball by the Central Figure in the Mitchell Report, how players increasingly turned to drugs such as Primobolan in 2003, in part to avoid detection in testing. Primobolan is detectable for a shorter period of time than the steroid previously favored by players, Deca-Durabolin. According to a search of FDA records, Primobolan is not an approved prescription drug in the United States, nor was it in 2003. (Testosterone can be taken legally with an appropriate medical prescription.)

Rodriguez finished the 2003 season by winning his third straight league home run title (with 47) and the first of his three MVP awards.

Because more than 5% of big leaguers had tested positive in 2003, baseball instituted a mandatory random-testing program, with penalties, in '04. According to the 2007 Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball, in September 2004, Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players' union, violated an agreement with MLB by tipping off a player (not named in the report) about an upcoming, supposedly unannounced drug test. Three major league players who spoke to SI said that Rodriguez was also tipped by Orza in early September 2004 that he would be tested later that month. Rodriguez declined to respond on Thursday when asked about the warning Orza provided him.

When Orza was asked on Friday in the union's New York City office about the tipping allegations, he told a reporter, "I'm not interested in discussing this information with you."

Anticipating that the 33-year-old Rodriguez, who has 553 career home runs, could become the game's alltime home run king, the Yankees signed him in November 2007 to a 10-year, incentive-laden deal that could be worth as much as $305 million. Rodriguez is reportedly guaranteed $275 million and could receive a $6 million bonus each time he ties one of the four players at the top of the list: Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank AaronBarry Bonds (762), and an additional $6 million for passing Bonds. In order to receive the incentive money, the contract reportedly requires Rodriguez to make extra promotional appearances and sign memorabilia for the Yankees as part of a marketing plan surrounding his pursuit of Bonds's record. Two sources familiar with Rodriguez's contract told SI that there is no language about steroids in the contract that would put Rodriguez at risk of losing money. (755) and

Arguments before an 11-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena are ongoing between government prosecutors and the players' association over the government's seizure of the test results from the Long Beach lab. The agents who collected the material had a search warrant only for the results for the 10 BALCO-linked players. Attorneys from the union argue that the government is entitled only to the results for those players, not the entire list. If the court sides with the union, federal authorities may be barred from using the positive survey test results of non-BALCO players such as Rodriguez in their ongoing investigations.

A-Rod is not the only one (there are over a hundred of them just in 2003). Most of the big sluggers are still on steroids. They are avoiding detection by taking human growth hormone because they know there is no reliable test for it. Look at the sluggers with measurements that resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger's when he was winning his Mr. Olympias (and taking steroids the whole time), and you will see why these people do not deserve to be gracing any field. Remember when Pete was kicked out of baseball for gambling on baseball? What people like A-Rod, Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, Palmiero, et al., have done is a hundred times worse. They have bastardized the very legitimacy of the product, undermining its purpose and value for anyone who believes in the sanctity of the game, assuming one could be naive or foolish enough to think there are any redeeming qualities in Major League Baseball.

The saddest part will be the manifestation of this cultural worship of wanton wealth and cheating in about two months time when thousands of Yankees fans are cheering A-Rod after he hits his first home run, much in the same way Giants fans cheered so wildly when Bonds stole Aaron's career home run record. The same fans, media propagandists, and players who savaged Jose Canseco as a self-serving opportunist for daring to say that A-Rod was probably abusing performance enhancement drugs on account of his physical appearance (and Jose is one to know, since he used steroids for over two decades). How is it that a convict and woman beater, as well as admitted steroid user, could be one of the few people in baseball who has stated the truth on this issue?

I hope I am wrong and people finally become fed up and leave. I sincerely hope people stop frequenting these sports and just let them die. The overpaid players (the only people less in need of a union than the owners), the owners (who live off our dollar in publicly-financed stadiums that they are charging increasingly outrageous prices to allow the taxpayers into), and the memory of people like Hank Aaron who played with nothing more than the natural talent they were born with. There is no group of athletes more deserving of the worst than this.

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