The most damning aspect of the “60 Minutes” report Sunday night was not that Tony Bosch claimed to have injected Alex Rodriguez, not that an associate of A-Rod’s allegedly threatened Bosch’s life, not that baseball confirmed doing business with Bosch and other shady characters.
No, the most damning aspect is something we already knew – or at least should have known, if we were paying attention.
That drug testing is essentially futile.
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That baseball’s claim of running the toughest testing program in North American professional sports may be true but still rings hollow.
This isn’t only a problem for baseball, mind you. This is a problem for the NFL, NBA and NHL – and every other sports entity trying to ensure clean, fair play.
For years, experts have said that only fools test positive. That the cheaters always are ahead of the testers. That shrewd athletes can use performance-enhancing drugs with little fear of getting caught.
Tony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis, was a self-styled hustler, not a doctor, scientist or chemist. Yet there he was on “60 Minutes,” saying that it was “almost a cakewalk” for him to help major league players such as A-Rod to avoid testing positive.
Maybe Cabrera, Colon and Grandal were indeed fools, failing to follow Bosch’s “protocols.” Or maybe Bosch isn’t as clever at beating tests as he portrayed himself to CBS’ Scott Pelley.
Bosch detailed the proper time before a game for players to swallow testosterone tablets – and the precise moment while getting tested for a player to catch his urine in a receptacle afterward. He said players trusted him because of his track record, knowledge and experience.
Well, Rodriguez and the others must have been some kind of desperate; Bosch caught A-Rod’s attention by “helping” Manny Ramirez, but he essentially was a nobody, lacking credentials.
Players surely had – and have – access to actual experts, rogue chemists, scientists and doctors who are willing to sell their souls to aid and abet PED use … and do it even more effectively than Bosch.
Which is not to say that Bosch was clueless; far from it. Remember, none of Bosch’s 13 clients who accepted suspensions tested positive. And remember, this scandal erupted only because a former Bosch employee was angry over a $4,000 investment that went sour and turned over Biogenesis documents to the Miami New Times.
Baseball cannot give up, cannot condone PED use the way it did when the sport had no policy at all; fans would scream, Congress would howl and the message would be appalling. No, baseball must continue fighting the good fight, if only because it has no other choice.
Some experts suggest that drug testing is little more than public relations, a way for each sport to demonstrate that it is at least trying to keep its athletes clean. That is probably too harsh; testing surely deters some. But in the end, a player who wants to cheat will cheat – and avoid getting caught.
Only fools test positive. The cheaters always are ahead of the testers. The cycle never ends.