No satisfaction for PED idealists

Updated: April 12, 2008, 11:18 AM ET
Baseball's newest drug-testing agreement is never going to satisfy idealists -- count me among those -- who wish everyone in the sport wished to make the fight against performance-enhancing substances his first priority. Baseball's revised program doesn't have completely independent oversight, like there is in the Olympics, and doesn't have any form of blood retention, as there is in the Olympics. And while there is increased testing in the offseason, an individual's chances of having his door knocked on in the winter time would seem to be about 1 in 8, the kind of odds that someone bent on cheating would take. Idealists would love a completely clean sport, and would love for everyone involved in it -- from the owners to the players to the commissioner -- totally dedicated to taking every measure to make that possible.

But even idealists should recognize the long strides that Major League Baseball has made in its fight against performance-enhancing drugs. Four years ago, it was possible for a player to have stood on the pitcher's mound in the middle of Dodger Stadium and injected steroids into himself on five different occasions -- each in front of 50,000 fans -- before he were subjected to suspension. Four years ago, a player could guess with high precision when he was going to be tested, and it was probably more possible for him to be tipped off about a forthcoming test. Four years ago, there was no real structure in place for Major League Baseball to deal with a tip from a bat boy or a bullpen catcher about an odd vial in the locker of a player. Now the penalties are tougher, the testing is tougher, the list of banned substances longer.