A shift in the players' view of PEDs
TAMPA, Fla. -- Imagine the player who won his appeal of a positive drug test last week was named John Doe, or Ray Kinsella, or Crash Davis. Because there's something that we've learned about this generation of players that really doesn't have anything to do with Ryan Braun or Dino Laurenzi or Shyam Das.
After a week of talking with players around baseball on background, and the agents and executives and managers who speak with them, this fact is evident: There are a lot of players who are furious about last week's decision.
"It's a joke," said one longtime National Leaguer.
"This really hurts," said one pitcher.
They are not mad at the fact that they are subject to drug testing. They aren't complaining about Big Brother. They aren't mad at Major League Baseball.
They are furious that a player who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs won by challenging the administration of his test rather than contesting the presence of synthetic testosterone in the urine. (Although we haven't seen the official written decision from the arbitrator.)
I'm guessing I've had 30 to 40 conversations with different folks around the sport, a small sample for sure. But a decade ago you might have found three or four players among those 40 who criticized a fellow player. Rather, the vast majority would've recited the strong words from their union meetings about their privacy rights, about the pitfalls of testing, about how any suggestion of drug testing by the owners was really designed to undermine their livelihood.
But if this recent straw poll of players is a proper reflection of the union as a whole, there has been a dramatic shift of thought among the brethren. I'm guessing 80 to 90 percent of the players I spoke with expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome of last week's case, in varying degrees. Some agents and executives say they've drawn the same responses in their conversations with players.
For a lot of the players -- most of whom have been subject to testing since they first played in professional baseball -- the peers who choose to take performance-enhancing drugs are viewed as a significant threat.
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