(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


Not much to tell.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

What Will Baseball's Reaction Be To This?

It's a report about a football player, too.

Normally, baseball wouldn't notice.

Except this time, the story is about the football player and his "elaborate" kit to beat drug tests.

The plot gets thicker.

I hope, of course, that this is an isolated incident, that Onterrio Smith will get the help he needs, and that will be the end of it.

But you know, of course, that there are some players out there, in all sports, who will be very interested in the kit and where they can get it. My guess is that the unregulated chemists out there who trade in performance-enhancing drugs (and recreation drugs, for that matter) probably sell their wares in combination with the test kit. That would make sense.

One would hope that the reason that no "big" names have turned up in baseball's drug testing thus far is because of abstention. One would hope that once the new rules came into effect, former users decided to stop using. One would guess that this is precisely what happened; a report I read the other day indicated that home run totals were down 9% from a year ago. That could mean a) that certain power hitters have laid off the stuff and b) that because of a), pitchers are now emboldened and battling hitters more.

Of course, the 9% drop could be a coincidence, and it could be that pitching overall is better. And it could well be that certain players are still using, because their "elaborate kits" make detection of their transgressions very difficult.

I harken back to Jim Bouton's line in Ball Four, that if someone invented a pill that would guarantee a pitcher a 20-win season even if it would take five years off his life, he'd take it. Bouton was a pitcher; the same logic holds true for hitters. The temptation to use is great, even with new testing, if the "elaborate kits" can do what their hawkers claim.

All that said, while it had to be a case that a significant number of players used some form of now-banned substance (my rough estimates are between 10-25%) or else why the public furor and the roll-over by a usually feisty players' union on the issue, I won't go into speculation as to who might have used because there's a risk you could finger the wrong person. (I have blogged that is was lamentable that despite the agreements between management and ownership, the owners, players and the media were still closing ranks regarding who might have used what when and how prevalent the usage was). It also may be the case that some players are still using. Whatever the case, the Onterrio Smith matter is a sad one, and hopefully it will give the drug testers the insight they need to create tests that are not beatable.

At least for a while.

At least until the next "elaborate" kit comes around.


Blogger Amateur said...

I don't have any first-hand knowledge of the NFL's testing procedure, but I can comment from first-hand experience that it would be extremely difficult to beat an IOC-style drug test by passing substitute urine through a fake penis. I would guess that this product is meant for cheating on drug tests in the workplace.

Unless the NFL testing program is a complete joke, I seriously doubt that Smith ever successfully used this thing to cheat a test.

9:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home