As the Alex Rodriguez saga continues to play out in the courtroom and the media, it appears that there is much more to the story. This week documents were leaked that implicated Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers) and Francisco Cervelli (New York Yankees) in the Biogenesis steroid scandal. While it is laudable for Major League Baseball to try to clean up a sport which has been dirty for years, it is also apparent that the problem is deep and troubling.
Alex Rodriguez or “A-Rod” as he is called by his fans and the media, is the highest paid baseball player in the world. Rodriguez signed a $275 million contract in 2007 leaving him with four more years or approximately $86 million in additional income through 2017. If suspended from Major League Baseball, he faces the loss of the income and as a result he will vigorously defend his position with the best attorneys money can buy. However, this does not negate the fact that Major League Baseball has a huge problem. Their biggest superstar and a fan favorite for many years, is a dirty player.
This is nothing new to Major League Baseball. Several years ago Rafael Palmiero, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and others were implicated in a pervasive performance enhancing drug use scandal. Since that time all has seemingly been quiet in baseball. However, the way the game works is that laboratories such as Biogenesis find new ways to combine drugs for which there is no current test. There are literally thousands of combinations of drugs which will enhance performance in athletes. However, there are only a handful (approximately 500) tests for known drug combinations.
What do you do when the highest profile players in a billion dollar sport turns out to be cheating? The answer depends on who is providing the answer. Fans and some media continue to promote the deceit by supporting A-Rod’s appeal process. Some fans still buy A-Rod merchandise and cheer loudly when we steps up to the plate. (He is still playing pending the outcome of his appeal.)
Others in the media call a spade a spade and report the facts as they seem to be. Steroid use is and has always been a problem and it appears in many sports……..track & field, football, cycling and more. But with America’s favorite sport permeating the airwaves from April until October, it is impossible to ignore the impact of superstars using performance drugs.
As an athlete, I can understand that you want to perform at your highest possible level, especially when there are millions of dollars on the line (think Lance Armstrong). However, rules are rules and laws are laws. Sadly, many athletes think the rules do not apply to them (think O.J. Simpson) and they continue to search for chemists who will help them beat the drug tests so they can perform at higher levels.
No matter which side you take in the current saga, it is painfully apparent that the A-Rod story is a black eye for Major League Baseball and will be for a long time. Thousands of young players and adoring fans will have to face the reality that A-Rod is dirty and there are likely more athletes who have not yet been caught.
Kudos to Major League Baseball but shame on A-Rod for breaking the rules and lying about it. There are plenty of black eyes to go around.