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How long will players be under suspicion for PED use because they fought testing in the 90s?

May 13, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

David Ortiz Reuters Reuters

Gregg Doyel has a column up at CBS talking about that whole David Ortiz-Dan Shaughnessy flap from last week in which Shaughnessy basically said it was cool to assume Ortiz was on PEDs because he was hitting well at the time. Doyel’s not a big fan of how Shaughnessy raised the issue — he said he did it “clumsily” — but he thinks it is fair game to make such assumptions/accusations of baseball players.


This is the players’ fault.

They’re the ones who cheated their ass off in the 1990s, injecting steroids like insulin because owners were digging the long ball. They’re the ones whose union fought against drug-testing for years. Hell, one of Ortiz’s former teammates in Boston will tell you that.

Players are the ones who even now are finding new ways to cheat, because a drug test catches only what it’s looking for. And since chemists keep creating new drugs that the testers know nothing about, well, you see the problem.

The cheaters win. The smart ones, anyway.

Does that mean David Ortiz, already linked to PEDs once in his career, is dirty this year? Nope. Not at all.

But it’s not stupid to wonder. Given the history here—not just of David Ortiz, but of baseball in general—it would be stupid not to.

We’ve had a testing system in baseball now for many years. Close to a decade, actually. While I sorta guess I can see why Ortiz gets this stuff thrown on him — he tested positive once a long time ago — I feel like Doyel’s defense of PED accusations is way more open-ended than just accusing David Ortiz. He’s saying “baseball in general” is under suspicion despite the fact that the guys who were leading the union back when drug testing was being resisted are retired now. And despite the fact that guys who are active in the game now were children when that went down. Are we stupid not to suspect them too?

Bryce Harper. Is it fair to ask him if he’s taking PEDs? Reading Doyel’s column, one would assume he thinks it’s OK. Baseball players cheat and back in the 1990s they didn’t want testing, so it’s cool to ask Bryce Harper to prove he didn’t, yes? How about Matt Harvey? How about anyone else?

Or perhaps we can start treating PEDs in baseball the way we treat any transgression in life: we make accusations where there is reason to do so, and not before. And those who make accusations without basis for doing so are the ones who should feel shame, not the ones who are baselessly accused.

Or am I just being naive again?

  1. braddavery - May 13, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    More underlying pro-PED talk from Craig… it never ends. Every time he posts anything about PEDs it’s either siding with someone who supports them in some way, shape or form or trashes someone who doesn’t.

    • manute - May 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM


    • paperlions - May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      Ah yes, because saying baseless accusation are bad is the same thing as defending the suggested transgression.

      Tell me, have you learned anything about steroids yet, or are you still just blindly hating them while dismissing everything else?

    • kjericho43 - May 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      I believe Craig’s point is: have faith in the system. (Ryan Braun sure does)

      • braddavery - May 13, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        I believe his point is “Let me post yet another article linking to someone talking bad about PEDs and PED users so I can counterpoint it like I do with everyone that talks bad about PEDs and PED users.”

    • scoocha - May 13, 2013 at 5:25 PM

      Craig loves steroids. He probably peddles them outside of HS once he finishes work as well.

    • braddavery - May 13, 2013 at 5:31 PM

      My point is, Craig relentlessly supports those who take a “who cares” approach to full-on support of PEDs in baseball while simultaneously and rigorously counterpointing those who actually talk bad about PEDs and PED users in baseball. If it wasn’t a post or two a day, it wouldn’t even bother me. But it’s like watching someone use relentless propaganda to hammer home their point. It gets annoying.

      • paperlions - May 13, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        Can I get some links to support the “Craig relentlessly supports those who take a “who cares” approach to full-on support of PEDs in baseball”? Thanks.

      • snowbirdgothic - May 13, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        Reading comprehension. It’s not what it…ooh, shiny!

      • braddavery - May 13, 2013 at 9:21 PM

        All you have to do is read the 2 posts a day he makes about PEDs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out his angle.

  2. bronsonshore - May 13, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    Every single Calcaterra post on every single subject ever:

    “[Insert name] wrote a column on [insert subject]. [Insert name] seems to think [insert straw man]:

    [insert excerpt]

    [insert name] is missing all of the nuance and complexity of [insert subject]. Let me obtusely explain all of that nuance. Thank God I’m here.

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      Is Craig holding a gun to your head? Do I need to call the cops?

      Let me know, Bro. I’m about to sit down for some Mickie Ds, but if I’ve got to save your life, I’m willing to do it.

      • badintent - May 14, 2013 at 12:47 AM

        Is that Mickie D’s khosher?? The RFP(Rabbi Food Police are at decon 5 )

  3. koufaxmitzvah - May 13, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    I’m not pro-PED like I’m not pro-abortion. I don’t demand that fetuses be eliminated from the mother womb, but I understand wholeheartedly why it’s a medical procedure that needs to be protected.

    Athletes are amazing specimen. They have giant limbs, huge lung capacity, and can follow a spinning ball with amazing accuracy. Well, the best ones can, and the one drug I’m thinking of that helps with that sort of concentration is called Speed, which is illegal.

    Except when Speed is listed as Amphetamines and they are given to every ballplayer like candy from the start of competitive play till, oh I don’t know, five years ago?

    Perspective, people. Please.

  4. snowbirdgothic - May 13, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    As Papi himself has asked, what exactly did he test positive for? His name appeared on an illegally leaked list that contained far more names than there were actual positive test results, and to this day nobody can actually say what he allegedly tested positive for.

    • bigharold - May 13, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      “As Papi himself has asked, what exactly did he test positive for? ”

      Yeah he asked that, .. he also said he find out what it was and share it with te club and public so as to explain his supposed minor transgression. Yet, after he said that he never followed up. Perhaps he engaged the same investigative team that OJ used to find his wife’s killer?

      ” .. list that contained far more names than there were actual positive test results ..”

      Everybody on the list had an “actual positive test” result.

      • snowbirdgothic - May 13, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        Actually, they didn’t. To quote the MLBPA’s statement:

        “First, the number of players on the so-called “government list” meaningfully exceeds the number of players agreed by the bargaining parties to have tested positive in 2003. Accordingly, the presence of a player’s name on any such list does not necessarily mean that the player used a prohibited substance or that the player tested positive under our collectively bargained program.”

      • bigharold - May 14, 2013 at 12:05 AM

        Hey I can read English too.

        First of all that quote, assuming it’s accurate, it’s a legalize non-debial denial. What they are saying is that the CBA had yet to define what was or wasn’t considered banned. In other words, if we didn’t have an agreement so who’s to say what is a PED. And, basically it wasn’t testing for PEDs it was a “survey” to see if testing was warranted. That non-sense doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

        Secondly, it was reported in the NY Times that Ortiz tested positive and that information was verified to him by the Players Association according to SI;

        “David Ortiz acknowledged that a New York Times report that said he was one of the players to have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 was accurate.” Get it?? “.. he was one of the players to have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs..”. Doesn’t sound like a minor transgression to me.

        Furthermore, Ortiz’ statement went on;

        “I have already contacted the Players Association to confirm if this report is true. I have just been told that the report is true,” Ortiz’s statement read in part.”

        So let recap, the Times reported that he tested positive, SI covered his press conference where he admitted that the Players Association confirmed the he in fact tested positive. And, that was the same press conference where he stated;

        “.. I will find out what I tested positive for. And, …, based on whatever I learn, I will share this information with my club and the public.”

        And, that was the end of that! He never mentioned it again and was hoping that nobody else would either apparently.

        The only thing that is unfair in this entire episode is that there are players that did not and do not take PEDs but at this point, since its impossible to prove a negative, there will always be a certain amount of suspicion. David Ortiz getting asked awkward questions over PEDs, .. well he earned that one. He’s hardly an innocent bystander. He, and anyone else that’s tested positive will have to take responsibility for their actions, .. just like normal people. And, Ortiz would be doing himself a favor and stop whining about it.

        Lest you think I exaggerated or misquoted, read it for yourself;

      • badintent - May 14, 2013 at 12:51 AM

        I just saw that OJ is coming up for a parole hearing soon.Two of his crack lawyer team are dead,Cochrane and Kardashian(mybad, so is F. Lee Bailey).So I think the juice goes with Gloria Allred, she defends every sports hoe.

  5. scoocha - May 13, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Let’s see – he was on the 2003 list, he commented that he may have taken something while in DR (check Baseball Almanac quotes from Ortiz), and now he has a resurgence without spring training. I know how this ends, he’ll be protected for the rest of his career but we all know what he has done.
    People defending Ortiz also defending Ramirez and how many times did he fail 3 – without including the 2003 list?

    • snowbirdgothic - May 13, 2013 at 6:10 PM

      That’s the sort of logical construction that makes a man want to yell “JENGA!”

  6. 18thstreet - May 13, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    I think it’s obvious that my own team’s players are being hounded unfairly and no one talks about how the players on our rivals used steroids.


    • bigharold - May 13, 2013 at 6:37 PM

      No no no, .. my guys are taking heat while your guys are getting a free ride.

      Who are your guys again? And, .. your guys now, were they my guys then, or are my guys your old guys? That part I have a hard time with too.

      • 18thstreet - May 14, 2013 at 9:15 AM

        My guys used to be jerks when they played for a different team. Now they play the game the right way. They all learned their lessons.

      • bigharold - May 14, 2013 at 12:50 PM


        He may be an SOB but now he’s OUR SOB!!

  7. charlutes - May 13, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    No, you nailed it.

  8. joerevs300 - May 13, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    It’s obvious to everyone except Mr. CC that most MLB players were juicing in the 90’s, period.

    And there are guys doing it now, for sure.

    In the NFL, it’s even a bigger problem as there’s no test for HGH agreed upon.

    Maybe he’s just an old-school writer who loves the game of baseball, is sad for what its become and so now feels like he’s got to be the world’s biggest defense lawyer for all the players who are doing things that baseball went DECADES along and never had anyone come close to achieving.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 13, 2013 at 7:53 PM

      It’s obvious to everyone except Mr. CC that most MLB players were juicing in the 90′s, period.

      And it’s pretty obvious to the rest of us that: A, PEDs have been openly used in baseball for decades, well before the so called “Steroid’s Era” and no one cared then, B, that while we know steroids were heavily used in the 90s and 00s, there’s testing now so either you think the testing is working or it’s not, but you can’t have it both ways, and C, that a 14 game sample size produces weird results. For instance, let’s copy what I posted in the other Ortiz/CHB thread:
      [Ortiz was batting .381/.412/.714 thru 16 games*]And again, let’s wait until at least half the games are played before spouting off these numbers. I mean, Vernon Wells was hitting .317/.394/.619 through the first 16 games of the season, and Travis Hafner was hitting .319/.429/.702.

      *note, he’s down to .333/.370/.613 as of today’s date

  9. ghostofjimlindeman - May 13, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Wow who do I root for in this little tiff, a known PED user who has NEVER come clean accurately and honestly about getting caught or how? Or a self serving crappy sports writer who is miserable when Boston teams win, and who loves to write trashy anti Boston athlete articles as a religion, soooo torn here. Truly can’t stand either one of these clowns, throw them in the Thunderdome! Two men enter one man leaves, now that’s entertainment!!

    • badintent - May 14, 2013 at 12:54 AM

      “Hello Dana, you got time in UFC 246 for two bums to fight to the death ?”
      Dana; “OK, but the winner gotta fight Dennis Rodman to the death”

  10. ghostofjimlindeman - May 13, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Personally I’ll never forgive Ortiz for yelling at Tito during a press conference over not getting a freakin RBI. It still grinds my gears. Showed his true colors right there, me me me, all I ever hear outta this guy.

  11. mornelithe - May 13, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    “And those who make accusations without basis for doing so are the ones who should feel shame, not the ones who are baselessly accused.”

    The problem is Craig, while this SHOULD be how it works. Those who report in this fashion haven’t exhibited any capacity to feel shame. Ultimately, the writer becomes more popular from hate and from those who agree, and the player innocent or guilty, is the one who then becomes stigmatized, because of a groundless accusation based upon no evidence whatsoever.

    As far as the leagues drug policy, it needs to be more random than it is now for it to ever have a chance at even moderate success. As you said, new drugs are being created everyday, there are also ways to flush your system if you’ve got any kind of advance warning. Additionally, what about the off-season? From what I read, this only covers when players report to spring training and then unspecified dates throughout for random players. And if a player is suspected of abuse, it requires a meeting of the Health Policy Advisory committee, and if they feel there’s due cause, they’ll setup a time no more than 48 hours later. Many PED’s would be ineffective during the regular season, but provide a great deal during the off-season.

    Forgive me for being a bit conspiracy theorist here, but that’s an awful lot of time for a player to put a fix in. Consider how Lance Armstrong carried out his charade for years….you think that’s so far-fetched for a baseball player?

    • jwbiii - May 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      Some players are tested in the off season for PEDs. It’s on page 11.

      • mornelithe - May 16, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        All players need to be tested, randomly, not just a few. If they’re truly going to crack down on this, they have to test them all.

  12. bigharold - May 13, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    ” .. we make accusations where there is reason to do so, and not before. And those who make accusations without basis for doing so are the ones who should feel shame, not the ones who are baselessly accused.”

    Then the question boils down to whether or not to it’s fair to ask somebody that has already tested positive, like Ortiz, ever? In my opinion yes. Anybody that has tested positive have wantonly subjected themselves to that kind of scrutiny forever. What isn’t fair is the cloud of suspicion that hangs over all players. I don’t care who they are or what team they play for one will never be able to conclusively prove that they haven’t ever used PEDs. Prime example, .. Lance Armstrong. In a sport that has much more stringent and sophisticated testing, he never tested positive. He wasn’t caught until just about everybody he ever rode with ratted him out.

    That all players are subject to some degree of suspicion is unfortunate but hey if you want to blame somebody blame the players union. They were so intent on protecting players from owners that it didn’t occur to the to protect clean players from cheaters, .. let alone protect cheaters from themselves.

    I think Doyel is right on the money. Players brought this on themselves. They’ll have to just deal with it. It’s unfortunate but that’s OK, .. they get paid well for the “abuse” being heaped on them.

  13. Kevin Gillman - May 13, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Craig, what about the football players that have cheated, and still are? What about the basketball players? Hockey players, and hell, I am sure even NASCAR drivers are taking something. So why doesn’t the medai write about that topic? Why is it such a surprise when a NFL player does get caught using something, when in football more than baseball, you need strength to keep your job, especially if you’re a lineman. Shaunessey likes to write thought provoking things, yet he never touches on other sports, and neither do the media, for that part.

    • badintent - May 14, 2013 at 12:58 AM

      I think the rodeo Bull riders use everything and I don’t blame them. Imagine trying to ride on 4Shaqs pissed off at Barkely on TNT halftime !!! No amount of drugs or money(OK, I will take a tax free $ 1 million ) to ride that bull for 12 seconds.

      • Kevin Gillman - May 14, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        You could be right, so why doesn’t the media go after rodeo, or other sports? My question still hasn’t been answered. I think we as viewers just hear what media says, and don’t want to believe it’s in other sports, but it is. And even if a player took it once, and was busted, he will forever be thought of as a cheater. I just suggest we should think of football players as cheaters too, or any other sports. But it is what it is, I guess.

    • louhudson23 - May 14, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      Because the record books in those sports were not shredded .

      • Kevin Gillman - May 14, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        Yes they were, come on, you don’t think some of these players who went after records in the NFL has not taken something??? It’s not JUST in baseball, it’s in sports.

  14. billybawl - May 13, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    I blame the players for using and condoning their teammates’ use of steroids, Selig and the MLB for encouraging and rewarding their use and the media for burying their heads in the sand while they oohed and ahhed as HR records were obliterated. So, yeah, if you are associated with the steroid era, you’re going to have questions hanging over you. There’s a lot of blame to be shared. I’m ok with that. But someone should also ask how so many baseball reporters ignored the story until Bonds closed in on Aaron.

  15. hockeyflow33 - May 14, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    Wait, how many guys from the 90’s are still playing?

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