Friday, July 31, 2009

Andro Rears Its Ugly Head...Again

And to think this all started 11 years ago when a sports reporter saw a container in Mark McGwire's locker labeled "Andro." Now, after all the allegations, revelations and disappointments, we are back to where we started.

In a story in the Boston Herald, Cincinnati pitcher Bronson Arroyo, a member of the 2004 Red Sox, said he wouldn't be surprised if he were on the list as well. And why? You guessed it...

Arroyo, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2003 to 2005, said he took androstenedione, which was banned in 2004, as well as amphetamines, which were banned in 2006, according to the Herald report. He said he gave up taking andro, a steroid precursor, when a rumor spread through baseball that due to lax production standards, some of it was laced with steroids.

Mandatory testing for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball began in 2004.

"Before 2004, none of us paid any attention to anything we took," he said, according to the Herald. "Now they don't want us to take anything unless it's approved. But back then, who knows what was in stuff? The FDA wasn't regulating stuff, not unless it was killing people or people were dying from it."

Even after the storm that arose from McGwire's use of andro, players used it for six more years before MLB finally grew a pair and banned the stuff. And Arroyo's claim that the andro was tainted is not some pie-in-the-sky claim. Hell, just last week in the New York Times there was an article on two dietary supplements that contained illegal steroids.

The supplements, Tren Xtreme and Mass Xtreme, are manufactured by American Cellular Labs and marketed as a “potent legal alternative to” steroids. But authorities alleged in search warrants executed on Thursday that the supplements contain illegal man-made steroids, also known as designer steroids. One of the substances is Madol, which was first identified six years ago during the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative.

Six years ago...that would be 2003, right?

And these charges come at a time of enhanced scrutiny when it comes to health supplements. Compared to now, the time period between 1998-2003 was akin to the Wild West.

None of this, none of it, is to make excuses for David Ortiz, A-Rod or any other athlete who tested positive. It is your responsibility to know what goes into your body. And if Ortiz's source of a positive test was tainted andro, then shame on him. After the McGwire flap, every ballplayer should have known better than to mess with that crap. And should have known taking andro was cheating, plain and simple.

I guess what is stunning to me in all of this is how cavalier all the players sound about taking these things. Arroyo is completely unapologetic for taking Andro. Ortiz theorizes his positive test was linked to a protein drink he had in the Dominican Republic. A-Rod concocted that fairy tale about his cousin getting him "boli" and not knowing what it was.

I said yesterday that ballplayers aren't - and shouldn't be - heroes. But the hard truth is that they are to a lot of kids. My son idolizes Ortiz. Aviv's son likes Jeter (who, thank god, appears to be clean so far). Other kids idolize other players. And the players have a responsibility to recognize that. It comes part and parcel with the uniform, the glove and the big, fat check.

I'm glad that Arroyo is being honest and Papi is facing the music...but would a little damn contrition hurt? You cheated. Parse it any way you want but that is still the bottom line. Do kids really need to hear that "I took it. I loved it. I stopped because I heard it contained something that would get me in trouble."? The implication is that if it wasn't for the rumor of steroids, Arroyo would have merrily continued taking Andro.

The entire period of 1997-2007 should be a wash. I don't know what should be done about it. Maybe a special room needs to be built in the Hall of Fame. In the basement. With only one bare light bulb illuminating the room.

And in the room lining the walls will be the plaques of every player tainted with PEDs who was voted into the HoF. But they get no ceremony and no speech. They just get a plaque hung in a dingy room in the basement.

It's more than they deserve.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I guess it's foolish to hope that by the time Jack is old enough to ask about players using PEDs that the sport will have been cleaned up. Dave, let me know what you tell Davey so I can use that when Jack asks his questions.