Baseball Teams Secretly Monitor Players v Drug Tests--NY Times
What few, if any, of them reporting to their training camp in Tampa knew was that the Yankees — and every other major league team — had assigned someone in the organization to monitor them discreetly from the time they were notified of a test until they produced a urine sample, sometimes hours later. This behind-the-scenes procedure is not listed in Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. It was quietly put in place in July 2005, during the season that baseball was embarrassed by Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for a steroid after declaring to Congress that he had never used such drugs. The policy was introduced because top baseball officials perceived that some players had too much freedom on testing days.
It is with this revised system that all 1,200 players on the 30 major league rosters were tested for performance-enhancing drugs within five days of arriving at spring training."
- (MLB, Inc. can say it's working since only 14 major leaguers have tested positive since the current drug program was installed in 2005).
"In interviews, more than a dozen players explained what happened on the day that they showed up at the ballpark to find a urine collector waiting for them. Under the testing program, negotiated by the players union and Major League Baseball, which has been toughened twice in recent years, a player has leeway when he is being tested. If he cannot quickly produce a urine sample, he has up to an hour to participate in baseball activities before returning to the collector. If he is still unable to give a sample, he can wait up to an hour after that day’s game ends.
“If a guy can’t do it, he comes back in an hour?” said Dr. Gary I. Wadler, an associate professor of medicine at New York University and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency. “Comes back in an hour? Give me a break. They should say that he will be chaperoned from the moment of notification. It shouldn’t even be 30 seconds later.”
During any time that players are not chaperoned, antidoping experts said, they could drink a lot of water to try to dilute their urine, use masking agents or use devices that allow them to fill their bladders with someone else’s drug-free urine."
- (One general manager felt there were loopholes).
"The general manager, who was granted anonymity to discuss the testing procedure, said that during the season the collectors routinely showed up four and a half hours before a night game — about 2:30 p.m. in most cities.
After a player spotted the collector, the general manager said, he could alert teammates who had not yet arrived at the ballpark that testing was taking place that day. If a player planned to use amphetamines, the general manager said, he would know not to do so until he found out if he was going to be tested that day.
Like baseball players, National Football League players are notified on the day of their tests. If a player cannot produce a sample, he is free to work out or attend meetings without being chaperoned. But he must remain at the team facility.
Three of the 30 baseball player monitors are general managers, 18 are assistant general managers, 4 are vice presidents, 4 are directors of baseball operations and the title of the other one was not disclosed.
If a monitor is unable to observe a player or players, a preapproved designee can take over, a fairly common occurrence. Still, the general manager who spoke of the loopholes said, some teams consider it more of the collector’s responsibility to watch the players than it is the club’s.
Chris Capuano, a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, said that players were asked to produce a sample as soon as they arrived and that he had never encountered a problem doing so. Capuano added: “Some guys take their time, get changed, whatever. There’s not someone with you the whole time, certainly.”
- But Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players union, insisted that players were chaperoned."
- (Which is fine with me, but he must be very special to know this). sm
"“There is absolutely no evidence that a player scheduled for a test is left unattended for a period of time that permits him to defeat the purposes of the test,” Orza said in an e-mail message. “Absolutely none. From the moment the player is designated for a test, he is under observation by the team coordinator.”
Beyond the questions about supervision, baseball’s policy — like those in other sports — still has a notable blemish because it does not test for human growth hormone, even though it is banned. Players realize that, for now, human growth hormone use will go undetected.
Orza said the union and Major League Baseball “didn’t trade one substance for another.” He said the longer agency list of banned substances included some found in over-the-counter drugs, like cold medications. It would be unfair, he said, for a player to be suspended for 50 games, the punishment for a first-time offense, for using a product that anyone could legally buy.
Manfred and Orza are on baseball’s four-member Health Policy Advisory Committee, which oversees the testing regimen. It has two representatives from management and two from the union.
Wadler questioned the committee’s effectiveness, saying he doubted it could act as an independent group like WADA or the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Because the committee has a financial interest in the sport’s success, he said, there are potential conflicts of interest.
“The real question is, why the reluctance to farm it out to an independent, transparent and accountable agency and get out of the business in which you don’t belong?” he said.
Manfred strenuously maintained that the baseball panel had an independent administrator, Dr. Bryan Smith. Smith is paid by baseball, but another entity would also have to be paid."
- (Why does anyone listen to these people?) sm
The United States Anti-Doping Agency “doesn’t do things for free, either,” Manfred said."
Portions of the NY Times article by Jack Curry, 4/1/07, "To Tighten Drug Tests, Baseball Teams Secretly Monitor Players."Tweet Stumbleupon StumbleUpon