Major League Baseball Executive Vice President of Labor Relations Rob Manfred issued the following statement today regarding today’s Sports Illustrated news story:
“We are disturbed by the allegations contained in the Sports Illustrated news story which was posted online this morning. Because the survey testing that took place in 2003 was intended to be non-disciplinary and anonymous, we can not make any comment on the accuracy of this report as it pertains to the player named.
“Based on the results of the 2003 tests, Major League Baseball was able to institute a mandatory random-testing program with penalties in 2004. Major League Baseball and the Players Association have improved the drug testing program on several occasions so that it is now the toughest program in professional sports. The program bans stimulants, such as amphetamines, as well as steroids.
“Any allegation of tipping that took place under prior iterations of the program is of grave concern to Major League Baseball, as such behavior would constitute a serious breach of our agreement.
“Under Commissioner Selig’s leadership, Major League Baseball remains fully committed to the elimination of the use of performance enhancing substances from baseball. As the Commissioner has said, we will continue to do everything within our power to eliminate the use of such drugs and to protect the integrity of the program.”
The tipping issue is a particularly-scandalous aspect of this entire story, essentially implying that there was a cover-up in place to keep high-profile players from testing positive. Who knows how often Orza or other union members were helping players get a heads-up on when tests were coming? It will be interesting to see both how MLB reacts to that (remember, MLB and the Players’ Association are two different and opposing organizations), as well as the players themselves. If you’re a player who DIDN’T get tipped, aren’t you a little angry right now?
Also, for anyone interested, here’s a link to the CBS page that has clips from the “60 Minutes” interview A-Rod did after the Mitchell Report came out. Bear in mind, this is one of numerous times when Rodriguez flat-out denied ever using any PEDs.
UPDATE, 3:23 p.m.: The MLBPA had this response:
“Information and documents relating to the results of the 2003 MLB testing program are both confidential and under seal by court orders. We are prohibited from confirming or denying any allegation about the test results of any particular player(s) by the collective bargaining agreement and by court orders. Anyone with knowledge of such documents who discloses their contents may be in violation of those court orders.
“As we have explained previously, in detail and in public (see http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20080703114405.pdf ), there was no improper tipping of players in 2004 about the timing of drug tests. As set forth in our letter to Chairman Waxman of the House Government Reform Committee, in September 2004 MLBPA attorneys met with certain players, but we are not able to confirm or deny the names of any of the players with whom we met.”