As Brochu states, owners knew about steroids

March, 20, 2009
Ex-Expos owner Claude Brochu, not worried about offending any of his ex-colleagues, has some interesting things to say about drugs in baseball. From (I think) a translation:

    (CKAC) -- Expos former owner Claude Brochu was the guest of Jacques Thériault on CKAC Sports on Friday morning. Among other subjects, he discussed the beginning of the steroid era in the early '90s. He admitted owners were aware of the situation but did nothing about it. He's the first MLB owner to admit such knowledge.

    "At first, of course we were scratching our heads about it. When you think of former Expos like F.P. Santangelo, of course we knew, but we were powerless. The union had decided they would not allow us to test players. There was nothing to do. They argued this practice didn't exist in other labour worlds and they would not subject their players to such tests. But of course we knew, and we did nothing."

    According to Brochu, owners tried their best to get rid of the problem.

    "We tried to give them advice because we were worried about injuries that come with steroid use."

    According to Brochu, there was an unwritten law that steroid talk had to remain hidden.

    "Nobody spoke about it because at the time it was not illegal in baseball. We knew about cocaine and recreational drugs but we really didn't know anything about performance enhancing drugs. Because of the huge salaries given to star players, they tried everything they could in order to get better. We felt like we had no control so we just kept quiet."

    According to Brochu, major league baseball had a lot to do with the owners' silence.

    "I think the commissioner's office had little interest in getting rid of steroids. The 1995 and 1996 seasons, following the lockout, were financially saved. Fans just wanted a winning team. According to me, they didn't really care about steroid use."

Again, this is a translation, and so I'm reluctant to take anything here too literally. But Brochu's all over the map here. First he says the owners did nothing about it, then he says they couldn't do anything about it, and then he says they tried to convince the players to stop doing it.

It's not clear what the owners could have done, short of a public-relations campaign that might have led to all sorts of ugly labor strife. That said, when Brochu refers to "the commissioner's office" -- we should remember that the commissioner is employed by … the owners. The commissioner can do nothing without the support of the owners, and usually it's more like a supermajority of the owners.

All that said, of course the owners knew what was happening. They -- and the general managers and the managers and the writers and everyone else close to the game -- may plausibly deny intimate knowledge of details about what was happening. But it's simply not credible for the owners or anyone else to suggest they didn't know players were using steroids.



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