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Baseball is testing DNA in the D.R. We cool with this?

Jul 22, 2009, 8:21 AM EST

I understand the problem, but this solution seems rather troublesome to me:

Confronted with cases of identity and age falsification by Latin
American baseball prospects, Major League Baseball is conducting
genetic testing on some promising young players and their parents.

Many experts in genetics consider such testing a violation of
personal privacy. Federal legislation, signed into law last year and
scheduled to take effect Nov. 21, prohibits companies based in the
United States from asking an employee, a potential employee or a family
member of an employee for a sample of their DNA . . . Last week the
Yankees voided the signing of an amateur from the Dominican Republic
after a DNA test conducted by Major League Baseball’s department of
investigations showed that the player had misrepresented his identity.

As explained in the article, this is an area of science and medicine
fraught with ethical landmines. This may be the best quote: “The funny
thing about this all is that the most famous baseball player with a
genetic disorder was Lou Gehrig. Would they have signed him if they
knew he was predisposed to A.L.S.?” Not sure if that’s as big a concern
as it would be in an office setting — baseball is generally done with
its people by the time they reach the age genetic diseases start to
affect them — but it’s not as if there aren’t other concerns.

What happens when a team, looking to verify someone’s biological
information, finds out that their shortstop prospect isn’t really the
son of the man he thought was his father? What happens later, when a
player reaches free agency and the team who signed him knows X about
his predisposition to bone or ligament injury because they conducted
the tests out of the country while other teams — presumably subject to
the new law — do not and cannot?

I’m sympathetic to the teams in all of this because they’re paying
out huge amounts of money to players who are quite often lying to them
and, unlike any other kind of business transaction, it’s not as if they
can easily sue to get their money back if fraud is discovered. Absent
testing, that signing bonus is going to be long gone by the time a
guy’s true age comes to light, and the courts in the Dominican Republic
may not be too terribly welcoming to the teams. Once a player reaches
Miguel Tejada’s age suing becomes impractical for numerous reasons,
both legal and otherwise.

But are we cool with this? I’ll take argument on either side of it, but it gives me some vaguely Orwellian chills.

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