Skip to content

In focusing on Braun, Major League Baseball is abandoning the principles of its drug testing/enforcement program

Mar 20, 2013, 12:00 PM EST

ryan braun wide getty Getty Images

Been doing some more thinking about the story this morning about how Major League Baseball is laser-focused on Ryan Braun in the Biogenesis investigation, to the point where it is considering giving players immunity in an effort to nab him and some of the bigger fish.

As a basic premise, I don’t have a real problem with that. This is how police work is usually done: get the small fish to flip on the big fish and so forth. I think this differs from the organized crime analogy in that here the “big fish” is only one player whose violation is no different in kind or magnitude than that of any other person cheating — and, as such, going after Braun like this is likely to cause MLB to overlook multiple more cheaters who collectively represent a greater ill to baseball than one more famous cheater — but that’s their prerogative. If they get the goods on Braun and punish him, fine, he’s punished.

All of that said, in pursuing things in such a way it’s inescapable that Major League Baseball is abandoning some of the core principles of the drug program as currently constructed.

For one thing: zero tolerance. The most adamant anti-PED folks on the planet, including WADA and USADA have spent decades telling us that zero tolerance is critical to any drug testing regime and that only through zero tolerance can you have a level competitive landscape. In singling out Braun, however, and standing willing to grant immunity to some players in order to get him, Major League Baseball is abandoning that principle. It is saying that some cheaters are more important than others. Which is the same as saying that some cheating will, in effect, be tolerated and will go unpunished.

And maybe Major League Baseball is fine with that. If so, they should say so. And if so they should cease selectively applying the standards of zero tolerance. I mean, if MLB is satisfied that it can weigh the words and determine the truthfulness of one player’s word over another’s and that it can mete out differential enforcement like this and not harm the very essence of the Joint Drug Agreement, surely it can listen to defenses of inadvertent contamination and accidental ingestion of various stimulants and PEDs, can it not? Now Bud Selig says that it can’t do that for risk of imperiling zero tolerance principles. But if the Biogenesis investigation throws such principles over the side, what is left to protect?

Also being abandoned right now: the anonymity of the testing and enforcement process.  Major League Baseball’s fixation on Braun is of such a high pitch, it appears, that it was deemed unique and newsworthy by someone privy to the process and thus was leaked to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Since when is that acceptable? The last time news of a drug investigation/enforcement proceeding was made public it led to MLB being publicly embarrassed when that outfielder from Milwaukee beat the rap. How did that turn out for you, Mr. Selig? And how has it turned out for that outfielder, whose name will always be mud to some folks regardless of what the future holds?

If Ryan Braun cheated — and if Major League Baseball can prove it — yes, he should absolutely be punished. And at this point, if what Nightengale is reporting is true, I’d lay better odds on Braun getting popped than him getting off.  But in getting that head on a platter it’s inescapable that Major League Baseball is transforming its drug testing and enforcement regime from a clinically-based program into a police operation.  And in doing so, it appears willing to abandon zero tolerance, anonymity, uniform enforcement and everything the league tells us is so good about the Joint Drug Agreement in the first place.

Hope it’s worth it, guys.

Latest Posts
  1. Derek Jeter went golfing with President Obama

    Nov 22, 2014, 8:25 PM EST

    Derek Jeter AP AP

    Are they looking to hire a caddie?

  2. Rockies sign John Lannan to a minor league deal

    Nov 22, 2014, 7:20 PM EST

    John Lannan Getty Getty Images

    The Rockies added a bit of pitching depth, signing John Lannan to a minor league deal.

  3. If Giants can’t bring back Pablo Sandoval, they’re expected to bid on Yasmany Tomas

    Nov 22, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    yasmany tomas getty Getty Images

    The Giants have a Plan B if they can’t bring back Pablo Sandoval.

  4. Reds sign Josh Satin

    Nov 22, 2014, 1:13 PM EST

    Josh Satin Mets Getty Images

    Satin spent parts of the past four seasons in the majors with the Mets.

  5. Henry Blanco leaves Diamondbacks for Cubs coaching staff

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:12 PM EST

    Henry Blanco Getty Getty Images

    Blanco played for the Cubs from 2005-2008.

  6. Report: Twins win bidding for Korean pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:14 AM EST

    hyeon-jong yang Getty Images

    Yang won the Korean equivalent of the Cy Young award this season and the 26-year-old tops out at 92-95 miles per hour.

  7. Angels acquire Daniel Robertson from Rangers

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:15 AM EST

    Daniel Robertson Rangers Getty Images

    He figures to get a look as a backup outfielder for the Angels.

  8. Report: Red Sox make $95 million offer to Pablo Sandoval

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:10 AM EST

    Pablo Sandoval AP

    Boston is competing with San Francisco and San Diego for Sandoval.

  9. Mariners gain another option year on Danny Hultzen

    Nov 21, 2014, 10:55 PM EST

    Danny Hultzen AP AP

    The Mariners get an extra year to do whatever they want with Danny Hultzen.

  10. Jason Grilli a potential option for the Yankees

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:45 PM EST

    jason grilli getty Getty Images

    If the Yankees can’t bring back David Robertson, Jason Grilli could be one option the club could look at.

  11. Orioles sign Paul Janish to a minor league deal

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:40 PM EST

    Paul Janish AP

    The Orioles bolstered their organizational depth by signing Paul Janish on Friday.

  12. White Sox sign Adam LaRoche to two-year, $25 million deal

    Nov 21, 2014, 7:35 PM EST

    adam laroche getty Getty Images

    The White Sox have signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25 million deal.

  13. Torii Hunter a back-burner option for Orioles, Giants

    Nov 21, 2014, 7:05 PM EST

    Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Indians Getty Images

    The interest in free agent outfielder Torii Hunter has been lukewarm, but he represents a decent Plan B or C for a handful of teams.

  14. Andrew Miller already has multiple three-year offers

    Nov 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    Andrew Miller Andrew Miller

    Andrew Miller is drawing significant interest in the free agent market, and he could even fetch a four-year deal.

  15. The Padres are making an offer to Pablo Sandoval today

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EST

    sandoval getty Getty Images

    Can you see that happening? I have a hard time seeing that happen.

  16. Rays have made Matt Joyce “available” for trade

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Matt Joyce AP

    Joyce has been a productive regular for the Rays since 2010.

  17. Wanna see the agreement between Major League Baseball and Anthony Bosch?

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:34 PM EST

    Anthony Bosch

    It was attached to a motion filed in court yesterday. Let us gawk at it, shall we?

  18. Red Sox promote Raquel Ferreira to vice president of baseball administration

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    red sox logo

    She’s just the third woman at the level of vice president or above in baseball operations in major league baseball.

Featured video

Maddon has high hopes for Cubs
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. P. Sandoval (4590)
  2. G. Stanton (3711)
  3. J. Lester (3248)
  4. R. Martin (3018)
  5. Y. Tomas (3006)
  1. J. Heyward (2575)
  2. M. Scherzer (2477)
  3. T. Hunter (2267)
  4. A. LaRoche (2180)
  5. B. Butler (2034)