The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Are we supposed to be impressed?

The best thing that's come out of MLB's new steroid policy is that Senators like John McCain and Jim Bunning can actually go back to being Senators. The grandstanding, at least with regards to baseball, should now be over. Or at least it will be over soon, once they're all done patting each other on the back.

Yes, the penalties are stiffer. Great. Yes, they're going to test for amphetamines. That's good - they have been a problem for decades.

There's a lot not to be excited about though, and that's not being talked about. We're still dealing with urine based tests here and the samples aren't being kept. Many performance enhancing drugs can't be detected through today's urine tests. The threat of athletes circumventing this could be solved in one of two ways: either retaining the urine for future testing or using something more sophisticated than a urine test (i.e. a blood sample). The players union isn't going to agree to either of those things.

That means that players can continue to use substances like human growth hormone and the future generations of The Cream and The Clear (of Victor Conte fame). About a year ago, Conte said that the drugs involved in his Balco scandal were at least two generations old. At this point, the drugs that they have tests to detect are even more outdated. The athletes are well ahead of the testing. At this point, anyone who gets caught testing positive for steroids is an idiot and should be suspended, if only for their stupidity.

Regardless, don't get worked up or start feeling good about the new testing policy. Baseball isn't any cleaner today than it was yesterday. This is a little bit (granted, this is going to be a weak analogy) like regulating guns. Those that don't really know what they're doing or who want to abide by the rules, won't due steroids (or posess guns illegally). Those that know what they're doing will continue to use more powerful and less detectable performance enhancing drugs (just like criminals will continue to have whatever kinds of guns they want - regardless of the laws and potential repurcussions). Don't kid yourself.


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