Why Only A-Rod?

February 11, 2009

Let me get back to a question I asked the other day about the latest steroids scandal: Why Alex Rodriguez? Why only him? What was the motive for releasing his name and his alone when there are 103 other players who also allegedly failed the test for steroids. Why weren’t other names leaked? Something is clearly wrong here. As a former journalist and current journalism instructor, I’m hard-pressed to criticize Selena Roberts and Sports Illustrated for reporting this juicy exclusive leak. This is what reporters do – report. But I have to wonder does Ms. Roberts know some of the other names? And if not, did she question why leakers only gave her the name of a single, albeit superstar, player? Keep in mind there were three other sources who corroborated the exclusive leak. Did Sports Illustrated even consider the implicit unfairness of it’s explosive tip? Did the magazine care about the ramifications?

For now, and I say this carefully, because I absolutely don’t know for sure, it appears that Alex Rodriguez’ name was probably leaked by someone connected to the Federal prosecution of the BALCO case. Only Sports Illustrated knows exactly where this leak came from. And the magazine is not obligated to reveal it’s sources. But we should ask: what’s really going on in this now years old investigation that would cause someone to leak the name of Alex Rodriguez? Did the government try to pressure A-Rod into revealing what he knows about steroids and then toss his reputation to the wind when he didn’t cooperate? Are pressure tactics being applied to other players on the list? Yes, I’m speculating, but the motives behind A-Rod’s outing need to be discussed and examined.

The egregious way in which the Feds have pursued the BALCO case and Barry Bonds in particular has clearly sullied its investigation of steroids in sports. The Feds have recklessly pursued players like Bonds in its quest for headlines, when if they really cared should be going after the creators and distributors of these illegal performance enhancing drugs. The way I see it, traffickers are getting a relative pass and high profile athletes are getting embarrassed and in some cases prosecuted. Again, I am absolutely not excusing the actions of drug cheating athletes, but if we only look at Alex Rodriguez and his forced admission of steroid use and his now tarnished reputation, we are probably missing the big picture – and the real story.


The Steroid Cops: No Justice at All

December 29, 2006

A ruling by a US Court of Appeals panel will now open up a can of worms that was promised to be sealed. The names of more than 100 or so major league baseball players who apparently tested positive for steroids may eventually be publicly revealed despite a promise that the test results of all of those who participated in the voluntary steroid testing program several years ago would remain anonymous.

It makes you wonder what or who is it that federal prosecutors are really after. Are they really pursuing justice? Do they really want to stamp out steroids in baseball and other sports? Or are they simply conducting a witch hunt that they hope will lead to an indictment of Barry Bonds in particular and other players in general? In prosecutors’ apparent quest for Bonds, dozens of players who expected privacy have now been betrayed. As of this writing the players union, as expected, is appealing this ruling, but the message is clear. Promises mean nothing. If that promise meant anything baseball commissioner Bud Selig would join the union in objecting to this ruling. After all it was MLB, i.e. the commissioner, that had promised secrecy. As things stand now, why should players ever trust the commissioner and the baseball establishment again?

Troubling to me are the many other silent voices besides the commissioners office. Where is the outrage? It appears to me we are fast becoming a people who seemingly tolerate anything and refuse to stand up to injustice if it suits our objectives. It should not matter where you stand on the steroid problem in sports. In America there is a right and a wrong way to do things and this is wrong!

Our legal system mandates that evidence obtained illegally is thrown out, even if it means the accused goes free. It is a founding principle of our justice system. In this case the seizing of the annoymous test results are the equivalent of illegally obtained evidence. And as such the test results should not be used. Prosecutors should try something else within bonafide legal bounds to make their case.

We can only hope that in pursuit of whatever it is they are after, prosecutors and judges refrain from any abuse of power. So called justice sought and obtained illegally is not justice at all.